Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Death of John Collins: Cover Matters

I have made a discovery. I have realised that, while book covers aren't supposed to be important to a reader, it's impossible to do a good job of platform-building without. That means that getting covers sorted for my books is going to be top priority for the next few weeks.

It sounds ridiculous to be giving such important to a cover, but bear with me. A cover is, undoubtedly, a vital part of marketing a book once it's out - it grabs the eye in bookshops and on Amazon etc, and it probably will be your first point of contact with many readers. But for an indie self-publisher, a cover has so much more work to do.

Look at any successful writer's website or blog - there will be thumbnails of their books somewhere prominent on the front page. That means if you want to look like a successful writer - and looking like success is vital for making a good first impression, in all walks of life; why else wear a suit to job interviews? - you need thumbnail cover images on your website.

Actually, given that websites which are all text generally look terrible and will turn most traffic away without a backward glance, images are vital to your web presence, and any more than one photo of you will look a little bit imposing. So there's one thing you need a cover image for.

There's more: a lot of internet marketing involves simply looking professional. That means at least looking as if someone designed every element of your web presence. It goes beyond your website; you need a custom backdrop for your blog and your Twitter profile. You also need a cover image to display prominently on things like Facebook fan pages, Goodreads and so on. You shouldn't necessarily be stuffing your cover image down everyone's throats all the time, but people need to know what your book looks like.

I recently read this excellent post by Al Boudreau about platform building. I left a comment asking what Al thought the most important elements of an author's platform should be, and he listed a Facebook Fan Page as one of them (you can check out his full answer in the comments). A cover is sort of vital for a fan page, so it needs doing now.

There are other benefits to getting a cover out of the way, too, from my point of view. For one thing, I'll be able to establish whether I can do it myself or whether I'll need to farm out the artwork. This will have serious budgeting implications for the rest of the process, because if I need to pay for two whole lots of cover art, it'll probably come to somewhere North of £500.

Plus, it will be nice to see what the book will look like. I'll be posting some thoughts on actual designs over the coming week (though not as a theme week, of course ;D), both for 'The Death of John Collins' and 'Bad Romance'. For now, though, I've had an absolutely exhausting weekend and I'm going to rest...

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