• S.E. Burr

How to Get the Right Cover for your Novel

This is the cover for my newest book, Goblin Winter. I'm very happy with it. It was designed by Rebecca Berto (bertodesigns.com) for $79. I actually paid $139 because she made the paperback cover for me too. There's some debate in the indie publishing world as to whether creating a print version of a book (in addition to the ebook version) is worthwhile. It's rare that you would make money on the print version but I had my own reasons for wanting it. She got it to me in ten days, which I thought was very reasonable since I was hoping to publish by the end of the month. (That didn't happen for editing reasons, but Rebecca was very prompt and timely.)

I think it's pretty obvious what an improvement it is over the cover I used during my first foray into indie publishing. (I was using a different pen name then. I thought it was funny because of the historical figure, Aaron Burr. History nerd joke, I know.) I took the picture myself and created it using a template from Createspace. On Goodreads, someone included it in a list called diagonal cover element, which was a list of book covers that looked very similar to mine because they'd been created with the same template. Actually, most of them looked better than mine. I don't think it's ugly or anything. I was proud of it at the time, but it doesn't look professional, doesn't make anyone think, Oh! I've got to buy that book, and it doesn't have the slightly creepy feel I was going for. Before making it, I read a little about designing book covers and I tried to find a professional image for my cover on a stock images site. I was overwhelmed by the thousands and thousands of images available, most of which seemed bright and chipper, more appropriate for an ad selling produce than a book about goblins and a drug that turns people in to zombies. That's why I ended up taking my own picture, but I still didn't achieve the eeriness I was going for.

The first professional book cover I bought was this one. I wrote Time Traveling Hookers, a tongue-in-cheek time travel love story in four days at a writing seminar. Sitting next to me at that seminar was a woman who pulled out her phone and showed me the cover she had already bought for her, yet unwritten, book as a way to motivate herself. She bought it from a site that sold pre-made covers, goonwrite.com, which is where I bought this one for $45. I was very happy with it. It seemed perfect for what I wanted and browsing through hundreds of already designed covers is far less intimidating than browsing through thousands of images at a stock images site.

When I wrote the sequel to Goblin Fruit, Goblin Girl, I decided to get covers for both from goonwrite.com. He sells covers in groups for series, but that didn't work for what I wanted, so I bought two different ones and paid more to get the fonts and look matched. I also paid extra in order to get blood changed into orange-colored juice on the Goblin Girl cover. He did change the color a little, but not to the extent I wanted. It still looked like blood. I asked a photographer friend of mine and she changed it in about ten minutes and for free. Pre-made covers are great in a lot of ways (particularly cost) but if you're planning on writing a series and want to go that route, you're probably best buying all the covers as a group up front.

The lack of customization available on pre-made covers was the reason I decided to go with Rebecca Berto (I was referred by a friend) for the third book in the series, Goblin Winter. To be honest, I browsed goonwrite and other pre-made cover sites first to get an idea of what I wanted. I found the image used on the Goblin Winter cover on one of those sites and then she found it on a stock images site. She changed the eye color and added the impression of snow, so I was quite happy with it.

So, which of the covers do you like best? Where do you get your book covers? Comment below.

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