Cover Me, I’m Going in
Yes, I’m going to resume my series of posts on covers.
No, today’s is not going to be incredibly detailed. First I’m going to give you a list of links to the previous posts. Then I’m going to do sort of a Q&A on covers, with things I keep answering over and over again (till I’m blue in the face.)
And then I’m going to let you ask for what you’d like to see that’s not already been … er…covered.To explain the hiatuses in this: in the last three months I’ve traveled more than I normally do in a year. Also, husband traveled alone for half of July, which should have been okay, but it turns out I can’t sleep when he’s not here.
So, I’m now recovering from the virus he brought home. And younger son is moving back in probably just for a month, but still requiring moving furniture around and rearranging our lives.
To explain the “let you ask for what you want”: it occurred to me I was proceeding with autistic enthusiasm to give you details on genres you were less and less interested in and how to cover same. So. You drive.
The series up to now:
Question: but Sarah, wouldn’t we be better off hiring a cover artist?
Answer: Yeah. Probably. Except a decent one starts at around $200 and can go up to 2k. Depending on how much of a following you have, this can take you years to recoup.
Also, if you don’t know what “decent” is you can end up paying a lot for something that you could frankly trick out in your backroom with Pixabay images. Heck, one of my trad published covers looks like that!
So, knowing what should be going on and what a good cover looks like is a protection for you as an art director.
Q- But why do some covers that aren’t pretty or attractive get described as “good” covers?
A – Because a selling cover has zero to do with “beautiful.”
Oh, I have nothing against beautiful. Your cover should be beautiful, breathtaking in fact, if it absolutely can. But it’s not the primary quality or the most important one. Most writers think of the cover as wrapping paper. We want it to be PRETTY or perhaps gorgeous.
But covers are an advertisement. Their job is to fit the product’s desired consumers and SELL it.
How many billboards are horrible but eye-catching? How many commercials do you remember enough to buy the product, because they were shocking or worrisome?
Your cover first must signal genre, second be intriguing enough to get you to pick the book up/click on it. The rest is gravy. Sure, if it can be BEAUTIFUL, great. If it can’t but still sells? Go for it.
Q I’ve been trying and trying and sometimes my covers are great, sometimes they suck. How can I make my work more consistent?
A practice, practice, practice. Same as with short stories. Or novels. The more you do it, the less random it is, and the higher your “low performance” is. At some point your lowest performance will be “middling” and your best performance “great.” And then higher. But there’s no way out but through. You got to practice.
Now, your turn. Tell me where if anywhere you want this series to go.