Choosing the Cover for your Self-Published Book – Follow the Crowd or Dare to be Different?

covertwitterheader.jpgAs an indie author, it’s your prerogative to do things your way, including choosing the cover design for your self-published book. While trade-published authors often dislike the covers picked by their publishers, that doesn’t mean their publishers have got it wrong. Though it may seem that all book covers in a particular genre start to look the same (take the trend for headless women on historical novels a few years ago, for example), trends are followed for good reason, and you flout them at your peril. Here I explains why it’s important to strike the right balance between pleasing yourself and conforming with common practices in your genre.

As a self-publishing author, there is one benefit which I believe gives authors a pre-conceived satisfaction, and that’s the control that they have on how their book will look in their hands at the end of the process. For many authors this is something they have dreamed of for a very long time. As a book design professional, it can sometimes be difficult to express to authors why the cover that they have visualised in their mind may not the best option.

Should You Dare to be Different?

Often the first thing a professional will hear from an author is that they want the cover to be completely different from other books on the market. Most book cover designers will tell you that this can be fatal to a book’s selling potential. This is where professional book cover designers prove their worth. They’re not just graphic designers; they should research the elements of a cover and what is working in particular areas of the market on a regular basis. The trends that are set and followed can mean the difference between your book selling or being looked over by a reader.

With this being the case, there is a fine line between being different and risking that vital connection between your book and your chosen target market.

This is because readers are naturally drawn to books that have a familiar appearance and brand to those that they have previously enjoyed.

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The Disadvantage of Difference

If your book has a very different cover, you may lose out on those sales from readers who are looking for a particular style of work. Many publishers, agents and designers insist on using the tried and tested styles of design, only testing the waters with a new trend once they know it will pick up sales. This can be frustrating for self-publishing authors who rightly feel that their work deserves to be noticed, but ironically, being different can mean your book isn’t noticed as much as it could be.

Blend In, But Don’t Camouflage

Having said this, there is also a risk that your book will blend in too much and the design may appear dull. There are, however, ways that you or your designer can make your cover stand out whilst still creating a sense of credibility through familiarity within your position in the market.

  • Take some time to look through books in your genre. What covers stand out to you and why?
  • What is selling well and gaining notice?
  • You can also look at other genres, as trends often find themselves crossing over.

Once you have accumulated some detail, use this information to cleverly better the themes and styles that have proved themselves successful. The elements to focus on can include colours, imagery, mood, typography and composition.

Get the Balance Right

Cover design is a true balancing act and something to take great care and consideration over. At the end of the day, the cover is there to perform one job, and that is to appeal and sell to your readership. Achieving this can take some thought, but there are certainly ways to make your work appeal to the genre’s regular readers, whilst standing out for the right reasons.

If you and your designer have an idea that breaks the mould, that you both feel could work then it can be worth trying to become the trendsetter, but if you don’t, there is nothing wrong with balancing familiarity and uniqueness, trusting in the market and in your readers.

 

This blog was originally posted on http://selfpublishingadvice.org/best-book-cover-design-for-self-published-books/

 

If you have any questions about cover design, feel free to comment or email me at contact@authordesignstudio.com

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Cover Design – Identifying Your Target Audience

If you are a self-publishing author, cover design as a service, is something that you will all come across at some point. Unless you do it yourself, you will no doubt research the many companies that offer cover design as a service (Author Design Studio included). Having worked with many authors, I definitely get the impression that you can all become quite disheartened at not being able to create a cover to appeal to everyone. By that I mean every book has a target audience, and this is possibly the first obstacle in the cover design process to overcome.

Every book out there has a main audience that it’s going to have to appeal to. It’s nigh on impossible to create a cover that appeals to every single reader that you believe would enjoy your book. As a cover designer, we must identify the largest part of that audience to target. It gives your book a better chance of selling if you create something to appeal to a single audience, than creating a mixed design which would only create confusion.

Now, having come to that decision, it’s not always easy to find which market you want to jump into. After all, Harry Potter covered a vast market, but if you noticed, it also had many different covers to enter into each genre. If you’re having difficulty deciding, speak to your cover designer and explain the message your book is trying to convey. It may be much clearer to someone who hasn’t spent every hour of every day for the past years thinking of this book!

Once you’ve decided on your genre and target audience, your cover designer should look into the market with you, discuss what’s selling, what’s eye-catching and how you can fit in whilst still stand out. Many covers in the same genre appear very similar, and whilst this attracts readers of similar books, your cover designer will also need to consider the balance of being different in a market that’s already potentially overcrowded.

As an author, you a more than likely a reader in the same genre that you write. Pop into a book shop and see what catches your eye, make a note and talk to your designer.

Design is in itself a creative process, and can become quite personal. Your designer should take on-board your ideas, and I’m sure they’ll offer some too, but the end result should be something that both you and your readers will love!

Why Authors Need A Website.

The question often arises of exactly why an author needs a website, and there are many reasons to consider. One of the most vital being because agents, publishers and most importantly readers expect you to. So what are you waiting for?! Not explanation enough? Read on…

‘I really wish every author had either a website or Twitter account. Makes me sad they won’t be interacting with readers.’  –          @readingGals

The above was genuinely taken from Twitter, written by a fairly disappointed reader. Whomever the author is that they’re referring to is making a dreadful mistake. Doesn’t it just say it all?

As an author, you are unknowingly losing out on a vast amount of opportunities (not just sales!) if you do not have a website. Readers take more and more time to research authors and their books online in today’s market, and you are losing out on valuable interaction and potential sales by not investing and embracing what is one on the worlds most effective promotional tools.

Displaying your work on other websites, such as your publisher or retailers simply isn’t good enough. The book market is extremely overcrowded and readers are more likely to be distracted by other works or adverts on the websites where more than your books are on offer. Needle. Haystack. Enough said.

Having your own website enables that important element of control, enabling you to brand your design to attract and engage the readers in your genre. It uses the same concept as a cover design, which your publisher or graphic designer has worked so hard to perfect. If the design of your cover isn’t carefully considered, you’re in danger of losing a sale to the book next door. In addition  your own website can be continuously updated, making it the centre of your promotion.

“Here’s a copy of my book, I hope you like it, but you may not. Probably not. Maybe?” – No success ever came from lacking confidence in your own work. If you portray yourself though your website as a professional, that confidence will also reflect on your work. A poorly designed website on the other hand, can immediately give a death sentence to your reader looking any further.

No successful author would forgo a website for the simple reason that they understand the importance of reaching out to their readership in whatever way they can. A website can be hugely successful and exciting to create. Whether you do it yourself or brief a designer, make it professional and ensure it’s worthy of displaying your work.

The process can be daunting to some authors too, but really, you braved the agents and publishers, dipping your toes into the publishing pool, you can do this too…