What makes a good book cover and should we design our own or get a professional?
Well if you have money to spare and you're not bothered about seeing a return on that investment, then get a pro. A good book cover will make a big difference selling your book.
Sadly that statement is accurate, although like the saying goes, 'you can't judge a book by its cover.'
You could write a novel that has all the makings of a bestseller, but if the cover does not grab peoples attention, then it may get ignored by would be readers which would be a real shame.
Professionally designed covers are expensive and not every Independent author can afford such luxuries, so what are the cheaper options?
Well you could use a site like Canva that offer free templates and a selection of images that you can use for your book.
Although you may find something that fits your genre, I found the free options limiting, especially if you write Historical or Fantasy. Also remember, with multiple authors using the same templates and images, might mean that your book covers may share the same images and aspects that another Canva authors covers do.
However for some this might be an ideal cheap option and not one that you should rule out. Canva also has a pro version for a yearly subscription of £99 which I believe gives you the option to upload you own images, extra storage, and access to free photos, illustrations and templates. So a lot more to choose from for a reasonable charge. However how many books do you need covers for per year? And will you make that money back from sales year on year? All things to consider.
So why not design your own?
This can be great fun, challenging, frustrating, and very time consuming.
You also have to have a some understanding of the software you're using. Working with layers,
picking the best images, colours, font etc..Then putting it all together so that when you upload it to Amazon it actually fits the template and everything is in the right place.
Sounds difficult doesn't it?
Well if you have never done this kind of thing before there is a learning curve but it's not impossible.
Photo editing software can be very expensive. Photoshop is a prime example, however there are cheaper alternatives such as Lightroom £119 and Affinity photo £47.99 which have all the features you will need and more to design a unique cover that fits your book and makes it stand out from the rest. They are also one off payments, not yearly subscription.
There are free photo editing software available such as Gimp, which offers similar features to photoshop and is probably a good place to start when experimenting and practicing with your design skills and its free. You may find it is all you need and you don't need to pay for an upgrade to the others mentioned. Free is always a bonus for us skint writers.
Whatever you decide, do some research first. Look in your book case, check out book stores or libraries, and see what authors in your genre use within their designs. Colours, Backgrounds, fonts, images. that sort of thing. These designs tend to go through cycles and often designers copy one an others designs quite a bit. I have seen several thriller covers where the designers have used a combination of dark silhouettes or figures surrounded by colourful background of a landscape of buildings. Here are a few examples of this.
Finally the last thing to consider is the use of images or illustrations and Copyright status.
If you're using you own it's not an issue, but if you are looking for something specific outside of your personal collection then be careful. You can't just download something online and use it, unless it has been offered free, out of copyright, or with the permission of the artist or photographer. Also even if you get permission make sure you have something in writing with a signature if possible. Because if you do write a best seller they may come back for a cut of the profits and court cases are best avoided.
Remember to give credit within your book for images you use. It might not be needed, but it is a nice touch and a nod to the creator.
When I first tried to design my own they were not very good in truth. I had the skills and the knowhow to do it but did not fully understand what actually made a book cover appealing. So I took some time out to investigate the process. I researched it, watched videos on you tube and asked lots of questions before I tried again.
I'm happy with the couple I have done now. I have had positive feedback on the whole and my books have sold quite well overall, so that in its self is a good sign that I'm doing something right.
As you may or may not know I'm currently writing book two for my Michael Saxon series. This is set at Trafalgar and I wanted something similar to the Waterloo book cover. (Top of this blog)
I decided on a similar design to connect them both together, so used an out of copyright painting as a background. Then layered a simple arch and figure over the top, matching the colours so that it blends in nicely.
I'm happy with it and just have to add some writing to the back page to finish it off.
This took me around three weeks to do, from finding the images to final design. Like I said time consuming, but you do get a sense of achievement once it's done and if people like it that's even better.
I would be interested in your thoughts of both my attempts at book covers and any advice or other software options you have used that others may find useful.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and that it has helped you decide what's best for you and the costs involved. If you need any help designing your own cover get in touch. If I can help I will.
Please share this around for others to read. It all helps.