Today’s guest blog post is brought to you by self-published novelist Lorraine Jenkin.
The Rules for Your Self-Published Book-Cover
To me, the most daunting thing about self-publishing a novel was the cover. I am happy that I can write, I felt I could cobble my way through the technology, but for someone who’s still at the stick-man stage of artwork, sorting a cover that grabs someone by the throat and screams, “Read Me! You Know You Need To!” felt impossible. Added to that was the knowledge that it so often seemed to go badly wrong.
I was haunted by the cover of a self-published sci-fi book that appeared month after month in the classifieds of a writing magazine, (note:not a readers’ magazine for sci-fi addicts). It was clearly homemade, maybe by someone who’d had a B in Art many years ago. There was something wrong with the guy’s face, not in an alien monster kind of way, but in a “I started over here and I was meant to finish about there, but it sorted stretched to that bit” way. I can’t imagine that anyone willingly bought that book, and it sat there month after month to remind me that my own cover could seal my own fate.
My book is called Jam Tomorrow, aimed at the contemporary women’s market. I decided that my cover should be different, not be the clichéd whirl of twiddly fonts, shopping bags, high heels and cup-cakes. Mine would be strong, simple and stand out from the bookshelf. I considered a white or silver background with a simple quirky drawing with a navy marker pen. I doodled for a few evenings until I was sure I had it right. Then I got carried away and thought I DID have it right… It was quirky, amusing, the woman’s face wasn’t noticeably lop-sided and it gave the sort of image I felt I wanted. Then, mainly to reassure myself I had got it right, I did a bit of research…
The first thing that came abundantly clear was a cover NEEDS to look like the others in the genre. The genres are pretty standard and we are honed to assume what a book is like by the style of its cover, whether we like to feel we are up for being manipulated or not. Standing out from the crowd might well mean your book doesn’t appeal to the mass market of that crowd. The second thing to concede to was that the bigger publishers have spent a great deal more time and money on expertise to work out what particular people like and are prepared to buy. Rather than me thinking I know best, perhaps I should accept their wisdom and piggy-back their design concepts (see, I’m talking in design concepts now, rather than drawings…) Read the rest of this entry »