Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Shine with Stellar Book Cover Design

How Smart Authors Achieve Standout Covers

The first cover I designed for a full-length book was incredibly rewarding, both in lessons and in outcome. But perhaps the most telling phase was when I got my client on the phone and suggested that we scroll through Amazon together to get a feel for which cover elements—colors, typography size and style, graphics—grabbed her attention and which ones turned her away. This exercise, I knew, would give me direction in designing a concept for her particular cover, one that would make both her and her target audience happy.

What I didn’t anticipate was how quickly her impressions would be made. Within seconds, I heard: “I hate that one,” “That one’s okay, but … (fill in the blank),” “That one’s really cool,” “That one’s BOR-ING,” and so on. Wow, I thought, I never timed my first impression of a book cover before, but I realized that for me too, it was instant. I've bought many books because I first loved the cover … then read the description to find the content appealed to me too.

Now, let’s be honest: art is subjective no matter how you slice it. Colors are subject to personal opinion; photos can delight or diminish, depending on the observer. There is no creating a piece of art that everyone will love, and a book cover is indeed a piece of art.

So how does a self-publishing author go about creating the best cover for their book?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Be Smart, not Taken: Red Flags to Heed When Seeking Self-Publishing Providers

I received a call several months ago from a potential client who wanted to discuss a possible “redo” of his book. The person who designed it claimed to know what he was doing; and editing … well, let’s just say there was virtually none. Worst of all, it was already listed on Amazon.

Upon meeting in person and seeing the book for myself, I was crestfallen that what this author had deemed acceptable—because I suppose he didn’t know any better—was nothing more than a bound first draft in book form, replete with myriad errors and every earmark of a poorly self-published book. How it got to Amazon in that stage was appalling; it honestly needed many hours of attention in every possible arena before it could be presented to readers.

To add frustration to the scenario, the people in charge of the company’s book budget on behalf of the author were reluctant to put the necessary funds into it. The money they invested badly in the blatantly amateur version impacted the budget they needed to bring it to a professional level for publication, and not knowing anything about book production, they didn’t understand why it still needed so many hours, and therefore more money to make it right. It was a true recipe for disaster, one that I wish the author—and every writer out there who wants to independently publish—had known enough to thwart.

Though this instance was extreme, it’s sadly not the first I’ve seen … or been asked to rectify.