On a week when I’ve given all of the existing covers of my books an overhaul, I thought that I’d put up a piece about all of the recent changes involved with my covers, and of the importance of covers in general for the self-publisher.
“But Luke,” you may be saying, “hold it right there. If covers are so important, why did you do yours yourself?” Wellll, because it’s something I personally enjoy doing a lot, and take as much pride in creating as I do the contents. I love the idea of having a ‘uniform’ look to my covers, as well as the concept of having a different, bold single colour for each one combined with a central, minimalist figure/image; obviously, there’s no reason that I couldn’t tell a cover designer to make them that way, but I just really wanted to have a go myself. Perhaps unwise, but I felt strongly about it at the time.
HOWEVER, I also appreciate that my covers so far have looked a touch home made; there has also been a major discrepancy in sales numbers for me between the US and UK Amazon sites. So why not try and make something that looks a little more ‘published’ – but still keeping the same single colour and uniform stylings as before – and see if it affects sales overseas? Especially on a week when I have my first reasonably expensive paid promotion coming up for any of my books (more on that another time.)
And if, after a few months, THAT doesn’t work, rhen I might have to look into busting the old coffers a bit more and digging up some money to pay a professional cover designer…and if I was going to do that, I’d give it to the excellent Paddy Green (@padgrn but more on HIM shortly.)
I’m currently reading ‘Self Printed’ by Catherine Ryan Howard (@cathryanhoward) and it’s been giving me a bit of a kick up the arse on a few issues book-wise, several of which should have been kind of obvious. I don’t agree with EVERYTHING she says (my readers rather seem to respond well to me my fairly sweary and ‘unprofessional’ self, both in my afterwords and online presence, and she advises being otherwise. She’s probably right in most cases, but it doesn’t seem to be the deal in mine…I think she’d probably despise the state of this blog too, but one step at a time and all that) but the her book has, so far, been very inspiring, and I recommend it highly to anyone considering self publishing. Anyway, she makes some good points regarding covers.
After all, your cover is your shop window. The Stone Man currently has 94 reviews on Amazon UK, which is great, but if the cover lets people know that my book is self published, a lot of people out there simply won’t touch a self-published book; why reduce your potential market? The perfect timing of discovering Catherine’s book and a tweet from the excellent Paddy Green (later, later) have spurred me into action.
It may be more interesting to look at my own cover development through that of my first book, The Physics Of The Dead, as that is the only one of my books to have four different covers, three of which were all variations of themselves. Here’s the very first one, which I imagine the majority of you have never seen:
You may like it, you may hate it. Some did, some didn’t. Either way, it’s supposed to be in a very minimalist style, which always divides opinion. Or you might just think that it looks amateurish. Later, I changed it to this:
The idea, colour, and central image are all the same, but I prefer the font and the layout of the text. This is something I’d keep throughout all of my books for some time, and even when I overhauled everything, I kept the font and typesetting for my name. This styling then continued in the other covers:
I realised that TPOTD didn’t quite fit in with this, plus the white text was hard to read against such a light green when thumbnail-sized on Amazon, so I changed it again:
I have a lot of affection for these covers; but I recently realised that perhaps I’ve let that blinker me to the fact they do look home produced. So I’ve tried to do something a little more ‘published’ looking with their replacements (although, as with these, some people prefer them, some people despise them):
And, of course, The Physics Of The Dead (the only one that’s kept its original colour):
You can hopefully see the new uniform styling (text on the left, artwork on the right) and to me, it looks a lot more professional. You might disagree; I guess we’ll see if sales are affected in any way. However, there’s also another option…
You see, he excellent Paddy Green (see: earlier) got in touch via twitter to say that he enjoyed TPOTD, and that he’d discovered it as it followed a similar subject matter to his own book, The Old Terra Vitae
. It was looking at Paddy’s cover (also self-published) and realising how much more professional it looked that my own, that combined with Catherine’s book to spur me into action; I half-jokingly asked if he fancied having a crack at re-doing TPOTD. Proving that the ‘Excellent’ in his name isn’t just a clever title, he promptly sent back two conceptual covers for it that even tie in some of the elements of the story (you’ll know if you’ve read it.) And here they are:
Both great, but I particularly like the second one. I would have used it too, if it wouldn’t mean redoing all of my other covers to tie them into a similar look. But what do you think? Do you hate them all, prefer the old ones, prefer the new ones, or even think that you could do better? Why not let me know in the comments section below?
You can find more of Catherine’s self-publishing thoughts on her blog, Catherine, Caffeinated and you can follow Paddy Green @padgrn.
To learn more about MY books (Woo!) visit www.lukesmitherd.com
where you can buy them for the Kindle.