• S. E. Burr

How to Get the Right Cover for your Novel-Update 2017

A year ago, I wrote a blog post to help new indie authors find covers for their books.

Today, I'll talk about my experiences since then and what I've learned. I'll structure this post around the covers I have used in the past year or that I plan to use soon.

I can take no credit for the cover for this picture book. The illustrator, Shad Wilde, who I collaborated with on this project, designed it. We created this book as partners in a Kickstarter project, where I wrote the story and formatted the book, and Shad did all the artwork, including the cover. It was important to me that this book showcased Shad's talent and vision just as much, if not more, than it did mine. I think it's achieved that, and the first thing I've learned this year about covers is that sometimes it's best to let go and not to try to control every aspect of a book. Occasionally, it's good to put your trust in other talented people and let them hold the reins for a bit.

These two I'll take all the credit for because I designed them and did all the artwork myself. You can judge for yourself how good a job I did. I'm no artist, and I've been told more than once that the smudge on his chin looks like a weird little beard rather than dirt. But, I'm proud of them. The colors are striking--I really struggled with that. The colors just didn't pop in the scan I did so I touched them up in Microsoft Paint. I'm sure that an artist could have done a better job and done it more quickly, but I love the graph paper look for these math tie-in books, and I love the homegrown feel. This was fun, and while they may never be huge sellers online, I've gotten a really good response locally.

Here's the one that's been the biggest learning experience (specifically about covers) for me and that I most want to talk about.

I bought this pre-made cover a long time ago. Having it to look at helped me to maintain the motivation I needed to finish the edits on this project which seemed never to end.

The edits are finished. The book is not out yet, but I finally took some advice I've heard often on podcasts about actually looking at the covers that are the best sellers in your categories and seeing how yours compares.

I found that my cover was not very similar to the others, and seriously considered changing it. I'll post a screenshot of the analysis I did below if you care to read it. But then someone suggested to me that I ask what my readers thought. I did in a Facebook post and found that most of them preferred this one to another cover which fit the current trends better.

SO, I learned two things from this experience. I learned that analyzing covers is not that hard, is kind of fun, and is worth while. I feel better about choosing this cover, because I know I'm not guessing. But also, it's OK, maybe even good, to do things a little differently sometimes. (Note: There's a slight chance I'll still change this cover. I've applied to be on a book-launch podcast and have made it to the second round. In the unlikely event that my book is chosen from among a ton of amazing books, the cover will probably change because they'll pay for a professionally designed even more awesome one.)

Book of the Week: An author friend of mine, Derek Alan Siddoway, launched a new book this week, Windsworn. It's a great read for those who like high fantasy. It's free if you have Kindle Unlimited. Here's the blurb:

An unlikely young hero. An incredible destiny.

Eva has never swung a sword. She’s never flown through the open sky on a gryphon or dreamed of being a hero. She’s content with a quiet life — two feet firmly on the ground, working in her foster-father’s forge. But that’s all about to change.

When Eva discovers a young thief hiding in her woodshed with a stolen gryphon egg, the shy, timid girl is forced to leave everything she’s ever known to become Windsworn — elite warriors who ride fierce gryphons into battle. As she struggles to learn the ways of the Windsworn, Eva finds herself caught in a plot to destroy the gryphon riders and plunge the kingdom into war, a plot that somehow involves her deceased parents.

In the face of growing danger, can Eva conquer her fears and unravel the secrets of her past in time to save the Windsworn?

Fans of Eragon, Harry Potter and the Dragonriders of Pern will love this fast-paced coming of age fantasy, set in a world of majestic gryphons and ancient magic.

Get it now!


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