When you daydream about writing a book, you might sometimes think about how much fun it’ll be when you get the the part when you’re instructing your cover designers, a top-notch team on the payroll of your publisher, of course, in exactly how you think the cover should look. It’s like daydreaming about baby names when you’re trying to get pregnant – there’s quite a large element of “I shouldn’t even think about this because it’s just tempting fate,” but it’s so much fun you sometimes let yourself do it anyway.
When you decide to self-publish, you have to find your own crack team of cover designers, which puts all the power in your hands, but also shows you just how much you don’t know about this part of the process. I could have found someone from Smashwords (the website through which I’m publishing the ebook) or on some other freelancing website, but I’d rather give work to friends than to strangers, and I have a lot of talented friends. (Note: I didn’t say “sponge freebies from”, I said “give work to”.)
It takes a bit of time, though, especially when you’re as vague as I am about what you actually want in a book cover. I know what I like, when I see it. I even had some ideas about what my book cover could show. I needed help brainstorming, and I needed to see lots of possibilities. It took three people and several months, but I’m finally at the point where I have a cover I love and it’s almost ready to go.
The writing inside is irrelevant if nobody buys your book because the cover put them off. It might not be a bad cover, but it might not look the way they want their books to look. It might look too twee, or too brash, or – when you’re talking about children’s books – for the wrong age group. I never noticed how age-group-specific cover design is until I had a cover I thought I liked and my seven year old said it looked like a little kids’ book. Redo, redo, redo!
And did you ever consider how much the title’s font affects your decision about a book? Not the words, just the shape of the letters – such tiny differences, and yet so vital. I spent all yesterday morning trying out different fonts until I was googly-eyed, and even though I can stop now I keep noticing them everywhere. Children especially, are massively judgmental, and unwilling to even try something that doesn’t look the way they think it should look, no matter how much it’s recommended to them. Especially if it’s recommended to them, if they’re anything like my children.
(I remember how often my mother told me to read Little Women and how long it took me to look at it, purely because she said I should. Then one day I took it off the shelf and started reading, and thought the only way out was to be about halfway through by the time she noticed. I wonder where Mabel gets her contrariness from?)
Now I have a book cover that looks modern and quirky, interesting and fun. It stands out in a crowd – or as a thumbnail on a page filled with other book cover thumbnails – and I think it will appeal to the right demographic. You’d remember noticing it before, and think “I’ve seen that before; maybe this time I’ll check it out.” I love it.
(If you want to know more about my book, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you the relevant links. I’m trying not to cross the streams, here.)