Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Writer Wednesday - What about covers?

Joe Konrath has been stressing the importance of having the importance of having the right cover for your e-book for years. He says, “Covers sell books. And having a consistent cover style, which can be recognized by fans by sight before they even see the book's title, is smart business.”

But many new authors just don’t have the funds to pay to have a professional create their covers. Until I started to make some money from my royalties, one of my critique partners did my covers. She has Photoshop skills and did a great job within the limitations of that program.

For my upcoming winter release I had a professional cover done, but I did it economically by purchasing a stock photo from www.romancenovelcovers.com/, the site owned by cover model, Jimmy Thomas.

Like RNC, there are other sites that sell stock covers, like http://www.hotdamndesigns.com/bookcovers.asp and http://shinycovers.com/

There are the photo sites that now offer a way to select their photos and create your cover right on their site, like http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-12-colourful-book-ebook-covers-image4290036 ;

The only problem with buying stock cover or using a stock photo is that you take the risk of seeing the same cover on someone else’s book. This happens a lot with romance and chick-it books, but apparently also with mystery. There’s an entire site dedicated to the subject: http://therapsheet.blogspot.com/search/label/Copycat%20Covers

Whichever way you decide to go, here are some things to keep in mind when creating your cover:

What is the story about and what feeling do you want the cover to evoke in the reader?

What kind of image do you want the book to have? 

Pretty and romantic
Sleek and sexy
Dark and scary
Warm and inviting
Cute and comical
Sharp and intellectual
Trendy

For instance, cartoon covers fit comedy or chick-lit books more than they do a serious romance or women’s fiction story. And even if you have a sexy story, do you want a sexy cover? That’s what I had to ask myself about my Winter 2011 release, Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.

The Real Thing (or TRT) is my second faith-based story, and it’s about a married couple. My new cover will most likely raise a few eyebrows, because it’s an inspirational story, but it’s also a sexy love story. Many readers of inspirational romance strongly dislike sexy covers. I can understand their reservations if the characters are single, but I strongly disagree if the main characters are married. I believe sex is an important part of our lives and good sex is a blessing from God.

All that being said, here are Michael and Dee Reese on the cover of The Real Thing. I know this one is going to cause a stir for more reasons than one ...

Kudos to Kimberly Matthews-Hooker and Jimmy Thomas for a great cover!

You can read the next entry in this e-book series here: http://sisterscribbler.blogspot.com/2011/10/writer-wednesday_19.html

18 comments:

Casea Major said...

That is a beautiful cover! Jimmy has so many different looks but always captures the romantic feel.

PatriciaW said...

You have a beautiful cover.

I don't like it when I see the same cover on multiple novels. I pass right by. I won't read them. Maybe not fair, but as a reader, I feel a bit cheated.

Delaney Diamond said...

I like this cover, Chicki! Good job.

Kiru Taye said...

I'm a fan of book covers. And I love yours. Jimmy is just tops. :)

Chicki said...

Thanks so much, ladies! I absolutely LOVE it. Don't know what the inspirational readers will think about it though ...

empibaryeh said...

I totally agree with you on book covers - especially for a new writer. Established authors with large fan base can get away with a less attractive cover.

Your book cover is gorgeous. I love that couple - they do very nice poses. As for your inspirational readers, I don't think they'll be too pleased ... then again, I don't read inspirational much so what do I know

Chicki said...

They probably won't be, Empi, but I say what's wrong with a married couple in a sexy pose?

Gary V. Tenuta said...

Actually, I like the covers of your other books WAY more than this one. Those other covers are really creative works of art that communicate something about the "feel" of the book.

Personally, I've never liked covers with stock photos of real people because I know those aren't the people who are in the story. They're just people who posed in a studio, collected a pay check and went home to wait for their next assignment. So, right away, I feel like the author must think I'm naive enough to fall for that.

I'll go even further and say that stock photo covers are so common (must be millions of them out there) and so lacking in creativity that my first impression is that the story probably reflects the same commonality and lack of creativity as the cover that represents it. And there's the big point:

The cover represents the story. It's the "first impression" that a potential reader gets when they see the book.

Humans are, by nature, extremely sensitive to first impressions. The corporate world has known this for a long time. That’s why they spend tens of millions of dollars every year on market surveys and research to determine the effectiveness of their product packaging.

Two important things I think an author should keep in mind:

1. A potential reader’s first impression of your book is the cover.

There is an entire psychology built around the concept of “first impressions” that should be understood by anyone whose product (a book, in this case) is just one among many in competition for the public’s attention.

2. Think of the cover of your book in terms of “product packaging” in the same way that manufacturers regard the packaging of their products.

The cover of your book is the “packaging”, the “box” (metaphorically speaking) that contains the “product”. The product is the story inside the “box”.

More often than not, a potential buyer’s assumption about the quality of the product is determined by their perception of the quality of the packaging.

Research has shown that people tend to make purchasing decisions within a matter of just a few seconds based on their perception of the product (that “first impression”) which is influenced by the packaging.

It’s pretty simple really:
You’re at the store. You see two products from two different manufacturers, side by side, and both products are exactly the same and so are the prices. But one is packaged very attractively with a polished, professional look and the other packaging is rather generic and boring. Which one is more likely to attract your attention? Which one are you more likely to purchase?

It's the same with books. With so many books competing for readers, the last thing you want is for your book to look like every other book.

Maybe I'm a little biased because I'm a book cover designer and I value creativity over commonality. But I'm also an avid reader and, in that sense, I hold the same values. I'm as sensitive to "first impressions" as anyone else.

Perhaps it's not fair to judge a book by its cover but the fact is, people do. :-)

Chicki said...

Wow, Gary! Thanks for the info.
Of course it's best to have a custom cover, but all authors, particularly those just starting out, don't have the funds to hire someone like you. They have no other choice but to consider other options.

Celia Yeary said...

Chicki--what can I add to Gary's statement? He almost said it all.
Yes, I do judge a book by its cover. If you're referring to the couple in a bed that might not please your Inspirational readers, maybe, maybe not. I don't write Inspirational, but I do read a few here and there--often based on the cover. I know several Inspy authors, and most of them would not care for this cover.
If you're referring to the mixed race couple not pleasing readers, that I don't know for sure, for I am slightly biased. Two of my three young grandsons are black--one all black, one biracial. And since we're all white as can be, we're a bit protective when people look twice or ask a question. So, I have a more open mind there than many others might.

Ordinarily, I don't like people on my covers. My first two have stock photos, and I have seen my cowboys from those probably a dozen times. I learned...I don't like those.

But you made an excellent point in your post--that one author's covers should be somewhat alike so the reader can recognize them. Hmmm. I've gone off the deep end on that one. With nine novels, two novellas, two anthologies, and one short, I wish now, oh, how I wish, the books had some common theme in the cover.
Live and learn.
My short has a Jimmy Thomas cover, and being somewhat behind the times...at all times..blame it on age?...I had never heard of JT. But I like it, because it's a fun thing for me, these 99 cent "dime novels," and I'll have two more with similar titles and covers. So for those three, there will definitely be a common look and theme.

What do I not like? The colors red, orange, or yellow. Blood dripping--ewwww. Weapons. Ghouls. Vampires. Wolves. Yuck.
Well, thanks for making me think so early in the morning. I enjoyed it.

Chicki said...

Thanks for dropping in, Celia. I know I'm going to get flack for both reasons, but most folks that don't like the interracial aspect won't vocalize it. You have a different outlook because of your family situation. :)

The inspy people will definitely make their thoughts known, but I think it's a beautiful picture that represents the love between the husband and wife in my book. Married people sleep together ...

Regina Duke said...

Wow, Chicki, you have the most informative and interesting blogs I've seen so far! My search for the right covers stems from feeling my way about the genres I want to represent. There's so much great info in this blog, I'll have to print it out and read it more carefully.

FWIW, I love the cover for TRT, but I probably have a thing for Jimmy. :-)

Chicki said...

Thank, Regina. I'm happy you found it useful. There's lots of other info out there, but I just post what I know.

LOL on the cover. Yeah, Jimmy is a real cutie ...

ShinyCovers said...

Just wanted to say thank you for mentioning ShinyCovers.com EBook Cover Service- we strive to make the stock selection as "custom" as we can. We understand that many authors do not have the funds to hire an ebook cover artist (nevermind a regular book cover artist) but still want something that looks polished and creates a great first impression. We also want to make the process simple and without any frustration.

I tend to agree with Gary that covers with people on them can be very difficult to do well- when it comes to using Stock, and sometimes its just not the right idea to go with Stock. It really depends on the story/theme and we hope our service can help give some of the new writers a chance to have a global audience thanks to eBook stores.

We've also come to learn from some of the authors that we have helped, that a very simplified, easy to read, and colorful cover is selling better than the rest, this _could_ be due to the thumbnail size in eBook Stores.

For additional stock, there are: shutterstock.com, istockphoto.com, dreamstime.com

Chicki said...

Thanks for your input, Shiny Covers. You provide an important service, and I hope more authors will take advantage of it.

sandra hall said...

I like the cover. That pose is nicely done. I don't read much inspirational but this cover will lead to me reading the blurb and reviews.

sandra hall said...

I like this cover for different reasons. I think it might attract readers who may not consider inspirational romance. The couple portrays a loving relationship rather than lust between an interracial couple.

Chicki said...

That's exactly what I thought, Sandra. To me it speaks of contentment and comfort, and that's a major part of what the story is about.