Book Covers Make the Author (and Publisher)

A few nights ago, while I was admiring the latest book covers on my web page, a voice issued from the Mylar balloons next to my office chair: “Bar-ba-ra! Bar-ba-ra!

The night before, a relative emailed me saying they wanted to buy a copy of Twilight Healer. That must have gotten the balloons’ attention. When they call me by their pet name for me, I know they’re up to something. The rustling from my balloons came next, and then the dialogue started.

Balloons: Look it this! You’re posting a book with an inferior cover and slipshod formatting. That book has enjoyed great reviews. How could you?”

Me: That was the first book I released through NTD and my first attempt at formatting. It looked pretty good to me.

Balloons: Oh, yeah? Go through that book and take a hard look at the cover. See if we’re not right.

Me, after glossing through TH’s pages and cover: You’re right. The formatting I use now looks better. So do the covers because of great artists like Teresa Tunaley, Marge Simon, and Sandy DeLuca.

Balloons: Dat’s wight, wabbit. A mediocre cover will reflect poorly on you and your company. People looking at the page might think you don’t care how your books look. Some of your authors have opted for new covers. How about following their lead?

Oh, dear, they’ve caught me, I thought, fetching a deep sigh. A book cover is the first thing people notice when they shop for books. Most people come in with limited funds, so what they get had better be worth the money. Of course, they’ll bypass a so-so looking cover. A poorly made cover and formatting might intimate that the writing needs work, too. It won’t matter if thousands of dollars went into editing the book. What’s more, if I were a publisher selling that book, people might think that all my books look bad. Appearances and first impressions count.

I thought of it this way. If I went on a job interview, I wouldn’t show up in dungarees and sneakers. I would wear a suit and good shoes. So what makes a professional book cover? The cover should communicate the book’s content to the reader. Look at other covers for books with a similar genre. What common element do the covers have? You want to use good images – at least 300 dpi (dots per inch) for good resolution. Best to hire an experienced designer. I know that now, but not when I did TH’s cover.

So I’ve begun reformatting Twilight Healer’s interior, and attempting to decide between two images what I’ll use for the new cover. Because I want what looks best. An appealing cover will reflect nicely on all the NTD books. The Mylar balloons would agree.

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