Well, I started this post to talk about doing your own covers, but now I’m going to talk about that, and about a story I saw over on NPR . The article laments that “the days when an artist named Chip Kidd could make us reach for a book may be gone”. First, let me start out by saying that I was a book buyer and reader long before I ever was a writer. And I honestly can’t tell you the name of a single book cover artist. I don’t know anyone else that does either. It’s not like comic book art, where not only is the whole book art, but you might pick one up because Todd Mcfarlane drew it, or Marc Sylvestri, or Michael Turner. As far as I know, nobody goes out and browses books and says, “Chip Kidd did this book, I’m totally buying it”. Feel free to correct me if I’m off base on this.
I don’t buy books for their cover, like everyone else its a combination of cover, subject matter, and review. I might occasionally overlook cover completely, but only if it’s an author I know. Cover matters more if the reader doesn’t know who you are. That’s the first thing they see, and if the cover doesn’t grab them, they might not take a look. If the cover grabs me, then I’ll take a look and see what it’s about. From there, its subject matter and reviews, or in the case of amazon, the “look inside” feature. If the writing sucks, I won’t buy it either.
That cover though, is the first hook. I think now, more than ever, books, and ebooks, require a good cover. If not, you are gonna miss out on a lot of people who might otherwise pass over it because of a crappy book cover.
On to other things.
I’m a big do-it-yourself er. In my world, money doesn’t grow on trees, and I refuse to pay someone for work I can do myself. Part of that is the satisfaction I get from completing a job, or task, or whatever it may be. It’s like writing “the end” when the novel gets done. (Even though with the novel, that just means your work is getting started)
In my world, covers are an expense I can’t afford. I know, if I want to be in a business like this I can’t afford to cut corners, can I? Well, my personal opinion is that you can, in some things. I don’t cut on editing, but being artistic means I get to stretch my creative wings now and again. Which for me, is a good thing. And before you ask, when I say cut corners, I just mean in dollars, not quality. Of course, if all depends on what you feel is within your realm of doing. If you don’t think you can churn out a good enough cover, feel free to pay someone else with the skills to do it. Using Gimp or Photoshop or whatever your preferred program is isn’t hard, just might take a little time. I like to experiment, and I like my covers to be slightly artsy, but still convey a sense of the book. With that in mind, here’s a sketch of the cover for my current WIP.
Mind you, it’s not finished, but this is a little bit of what can be done without a photo of any kind. It pops, and hopefully, grabs your attention. What about you? Any thought on covers, how important they are? feel free to let me know in the comments.