Saturday, 1 September 2012


So, I've been spending a little bit of time on Smashwords lately (BTW a totally awesome site) and I've scanned through A LOT of indie published books. One of the observations that I have made is that there is a gulf between the quality of indie book covers. At one time most indie publications fell into what I will call the 'lower' end of quality. I won't show and shame (not my style) but we all know what type of cover I'm talking about. By lower end I mean;

  • Box borders.
  • Amateur photographs with no Photoshopping.
  • Crazy / word doc font use.
  • Lack of word to image balance.

Here is mock up of what I mean. (And yes, this is based on one I saw today)

 And even worse are the free cover templates on offer from publishing companies who lead some writers to believe that this will actually help aid to sell their work and make them look professional. These type of covers take less than five minutes to make and you would really think that when some hardworking indie writer has placed a rather large cheque into the hands of these self publishing companies, that they might be able to offer a slightly more professional and personal cover design. Here is a mock up of hundreds I have just seen on the web.

Increasingly indie writers/publishers are skilling themselves up. They've had to because the indie market is increasingly competitive and professional. In today's times, the Amazon top 100 bestseller list comprises both indie and traditionally published work and it's almost impossible to tell them apart on first glance. Why? Because indie writers are either teaching themselves Photoshop or paying a friend who has, in order to produce authentic, high quality covers.

And it doesn't have to be this high-tech. Photoshop is quite a tricky program to master, not to say very, very expensive to buy but programs such as the brilliant Picasa allow basic image manipulation and a broad range of fonts. It's easy but can be particularly effective when you use professional stock images as your base. I use and think they are excellent. They have a range of free downloadble images too. When you purchase an image you get all of the legal licensing needed to use the image on your webpage, bookcover and up to 50,000 print editions. NEVER BE TEMPTED TO CUT AND PASTE AN UNAUTHORISED IMAGE. Always assume that every image on Google images etc. belongs to somebody who would be quite pissed if they saw you using it.

Everybody knows the adage of 'Don't judge a book by its cover' but in today's market and media savvy world, that adage no longer cuts the mustard (yep, I never did understand that idiom) Readers do judge by the cover; it's the first point of sale and with a market saturated with new books, readers will search for a book that offers the promise of quality.
Does your book cover shout "Hey come and buy me, I'm polished, genre specific, aimed specifically for you and am full of promise?"

The following covers demonstrate what I mean by quality indie publishing and it's no coincidence that these books have been successful sellers.

What these books have in common is a really clear sense of the story within. They are evocative, atmospheric and denote the genre and style contained. They look as if they could sit on the 3 for 1 table at Waterstones and nobody would ever guess that they were 'self published' works. Ultimately that is what you are aiming for - to simutaneously blend in to the traditionally published world whilst still be individual and interesting enough to catch the reader's eye. (BTW - the images are linked to their Amazon page)

If you have a cover for your indie published book which you don't think is reflecting the quality of the story contained within the cover then hop on over to the official website of Little Bird Publishing who are offering 3 e-book covers up for grabs in their giveaway. You can find out more by following this link.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Katie. I'm flattered that you chose my cover to display.