Book reupholstery needed

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Book Designer Gold Star awardA new publishing contact mentioned to me recently that he thought my novel covers should be redone; he told me that they were okay, technically, but they weren’t great novel sellers.

I couldn’t argue with him… it’s not like my novels are flying off the (digital) shelves, after all.  I’ve gotten some decent ratings from my books, but never compliments on my covers… and very few sales overall.  I have to consider that the quality of my covers may be a major stumbling block in selling my work.

Novel cover art is the first thing readers see… it is the upholstery that presents your novel to their eyes, and it must look good to be noticed among the walls of books alongside it.  Cover art can be a funny thing; there are a lot of things to consider.  It’s not enough to be proficient in Photoshop (which I am… well, as they say, just proficient enough to be dangerous), you need to consider whether your art fits the genre and style that fans are attracted to.  And these days, your book art may only be seen as a thumbnail image on a computer screen or cellphone, so it has to look good at almost the size of a screen icon.

All of that can be tricky to pull off, and I’ve seen my share of covers that did it badly.  I’ve tried to apply my skills to the challenge, and since my books are 100% ebooks, I’ve sided with the “good looking thumbnail” strategy.  I’ve occasionally posted my upcoming covers on Facebook, and they are all up on Pinterest, to let people see what I had to offer.  And on one occasion, I entered the cover of Sarcology in a contest and won an award from The Book Designer, a website that specializes in self-publishing and ebook design.

But that was probably the only affirmation that I ever received from my covers.  At the same time, no one ever told me they were no good… and maybe that’s where my peer review strategy failed.  I suppose I can no longer assume that no news is good news.

I’m going to have to set up a better set of art reviewers, and use them methodically, something I’ve never really done before.  I put considerable effort into my books… I don’t want an unappealing cover to turn them away before they give my work a chance.

And I may have to try to figure out a way to get some professional artists involved in the process—yeah, talking about pay.  I’ve always been proud of my ability to create ALL of my book, from start to finish; but I may have to consider passing on the creation of cover art to those better suited at it than I.

But for now, I’m going to start a process of reviewing and redoing every book cover I can, and try to do a much better job at design than I have in the past.  I’ll build my reviewers, toss concepts around, and try to get a better perspective on my own work.  Hopefully, all of this will result in improved sales and popularity.

At any rate, it sure can’t hurt.

(If you’re interested, feel free to peruse the covers and weigh in here on what you do and don’t like about them.  I’m not afraid of criticism, so be honest; how else am I going to improve?)

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