I can create my own book cover and save money!
Don’t. Yes you could. You have the software, you have some photos, you have the time and patience. But don’t. Seriously don’t.
The only caveat is if you’re a top designer, now, not then. Now. Back then you ruled, back then your skills were rocking. But now you’re not paid for it, right? There’s a reason for that. Don’t do it yourself.
You can take great photos right? Everyone says how great your photos are: still don’t. Are you being paid to photograph book covers today? No? Then don’t. Just because you have a camera and some nice pictures already, that isn’t enough to create a book cover.
Creating your own book cover is like conducting your own Job Interview: you’ll get the job every time! Congrats, you are the bomb! Not good.
The point of a book cover is to make people pick it up, read it, open it up, download a sample. A cover is not about having something pretty to look at on the shelf. The cover is functional, not a feature – remember that.
You are too close to the book. You need someone impartial, someone professional to interpret your story into a visual image. That cannot be done by you.
Maybe you know a friend who is a killer designer – you could get them to do it cheap! No. Don’t. You need a book designer – a good one. The best you can afford. Consider budgeting for at least 40-60x your retail price – and even that will be cheap!
You need someone to read your book and see the symbolism, develop new metaphors, see new colours, picture the characters for themselves and feel the emotion you created, then that same person needs to be able to present that information into a visual format. That takes talent. That takes time and skill. That takes money, and that may take more money than you were intending on spending.
You need quality artwork which ticks all the above boxes. You want people to think ‘wow’ and be drawn towards your cover because it’s amazing. You want people to hold it in their hands and stare at the cover for ages. Getting lost in its detail, its quality, its layout and its meaning. You want a cover that people want to mount, frame and hang on their wall, so everyone sees it and asks about it when they look at it. Once you have their attention, their interest will be piqued and a transaction with be so easy.
Don’t just create the cover yourself, please – even if everyone tells you how great it is. Your book is worth more than that.
About the picture. I searched for ‘terrible book covers’ and found this: shocking!
Mark Mapstone is a skateboarder, a writer, and author of the Ethan Wares Skateboard Series books.
Follow Mark on Instagram: @7plywood
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