I love book covers. They conjure up all sorts of images in your head about what a book may be about. I can spend hours just perusing the shelves of Waterstones, WH Smith, in fact any book store I come across, until I see something that fires my imagination. The blurb on the back is important enough but you have to pick up the book in the first place. Admittedly, you are likely to go first to the writers you know and trust but as an Indie author setting out on the long road to creating a best seller you don’t really have that option.
Another issue has entered the equation, too, with the explosion of digital publishing. On the virtual “shelf” the front page image of your book is shrunk down to miniature so it has to be pretty striking to make an impact.
One of my biggest investments so far, after the critique, was to spend £90 last November on the annual Self-Publishing In the Digital Age Conference, staged by Writers and Artists Yearbook and Bloomsbury, and it was well worth the money. About a hundred wannabe and already-are authors gathered to hear from a variety of speakers, and importance of book covers was thrust to the forefront.
Jane ‘JD’ Smith, a member of the writers’ collective Triskele Books (I’ll talk about Collectives in a later post, having just started forming one), was fascinating on the subject. She does the book covers for all the writers in the collective as well as traditional publishers and other indie authors. JD says: “Covers are the first aspect seen alongside many other books in bricks and mortar shops, and entice people to ‘look inside’ on online retailers. It’s a key aspect of publishing where small presses and self-published authors frequently fall down, unwilling or unsure of whether to invest time and money, where it can be one of the easiest aspects to get right’. I wanted to put Jane’s talk on here but it seems the link isn’t available. Check out her website though http://www.jdsmith-design.com/.
Another person who emphasised the importance of covers was the author Mark Edwards, who does psychological thrillers like The Magpie and Because She Loves You, which have topped the digital charts. Mark showed some humorous examples of covers he found on the net, including A Billionaire Dinosaur Forced Me Gay. He admitted that his own book The Magpies didn’t feature a lost girl in the woods at any stage but admitted, tongue in cheek: “You’ve got to have some scary woods on the cover of a scary suspense thriller.” It works, too, because his psychological thrillers like The Magpies and Because She Loves You, have stormed the digital charts. He works in a partnership with Louise Voss as well as producing his own novels. Their website is: http://vossandedwards.com/
Having worked on newspapers for some time I have come across many talented people so, having finished Crossing The Whitewash, I approached my friends Adam and Mari Walker (who have their own little design business going at http://www.madamadari.com/ for a cover. I gave them the brief idea, that of a Rugby World Cup thriller, plus a synopsis, and they offered up some very imaginative designs. Here are some samples and I’ll tell you in the next post how and why I made my choice.