As an author, it sometimes bugs me that a picture is worth a thousand words (cuz it’s not easy puking a thousand words onto a page!), but I can acknowledge the power of a single image. This one from the hubs Flickr stream grabbed my attention and not just because she’s a girl with a (fake) gun. That is one eye-grabbing image.
And images have been on my mind a lot since I began independently publishing my own novels. I’ve probably had more input into the cover art on my books than most authors get from their publishers. Even with my brief adventure in traditional publishing I had some input into the covers.
What I learned from my many adventures with cover art is that I don’t know jack-spam about cover art.
I know what I like.
I know what attracts me to a book by someone else.
I know what makes me pick up a book.
I am usually wrong about my own cover art.
One problem, I think, is that I’m too close to my story, but it’s more than that. Covers are art, but they are also marketing tools. It’s the marketing part that I have trouble with.
So when I went indie, and started working with a very talented designer, I was all, “Yeah, I like that” and “yeah, that looks great.”
And then I started getting real life data. I could see my daily sales. And I started to learn at the fingers (they were online, so couldn’t see their feet) of successful indie authors. There are typically three reasons why books don’t sell (besides the obvious one of no one knowing they exist):
- Cover art
For me, reading is a very personal experience, so if a reader doesn’t with my books, well, there’s nothing I can do about that. Book chemistry—the magic that occurs between words and reader—is not something any author can control. You write the books you love and hope you’ll find the readers that will love them, too.
- Cover art
So that leaves one and two that one can mess with. So in the past year or so, I’ve been playing with blurbs and cover art. To the point my wonderful designer has, um, grown a bit weary. LOL (At least she is still speaking to me.)
Enter Ed Lewis and his KD Cover Kit (introduced through Joel Friedlander of bookdesigner.com). I hemmed and hawed about buying it, because I have some pretty compelling evidence that I do NOT have even basic design skills. He promised the I could create a professional looking cover in ten minutes or less. I fought the appeal of that for several days, before succumbing. (It had some other cool stuff that I thought I could use if I failed epically at cover design. You’d be surprised how often authors need images for
Keep in mind that while I can use a pretty basic image editing program, I had never tried Photoshop. But one thing my adventure in indie publishing has taught me is that I need to at least try it. (Not your circus, not your monkeys, Yoda, so no do or die on this one!) Fear is not my friend. Nor will it help my business.
So, I tried.
Keep in mind that my goal is not to create high art covers. I lack that kind of skill. My goal was to create something that looked professional and didn’t take a lot of time, so that if it didn’t work, I could try something else.
I chose A Dangerous Dance for this experiment because it is NOT part of a series (which would require me to mess with all the covers) and because it is currently (apparently) invisible to readers. LOL
Now, just changing a cover isn’t going to make a book magically appear in front of readers. Book sites have algorithms that deliver books to readers, based for the most part, on their previous shopping habits. Amazon is legendary for its algorithms and just changing a cover won’t impact those.
But the cover is a place to start. I ended up with two options. And—don’t laugh—I went with my second choice. Because I always seem to be wrong. O.O So I figured my favorite was probably wrong, too. But I thought I’d bring both choices to you to look at and comment on. Because this is more than an exercise in marketing for me. I’m trying to learn to see further than my own preferences.
I was lucky enough to use the hub’s photos for both covers (all except the gun, which I licensed for a dollar). I should also add, that the kit creator, Ed Lewis, played with Option 1, as part of helping us all learn more about cover design and using Photoshop. So here they are:
If you’ve got time, I hope you’ll tell me which one is your favorite and why (if you know, cuz I don’t always know why something grabs my attention). Not only will I be grateful, but I’ll enter your comment into my monthly drawing for an AnaBanana gift basket ($25 value). I announce the winner the first blog post of the new month.
“Sinister and twisted individuals make this suspense thriller quite the dark and intense read. Jones cranks up the action and danger, as well as psychological suspense. Nail biting fun!” Romantic Times Magazine