Each week we highlight and expound on a question or section from our Publisher Resources page on our website. The more you know, the better you can publish, so we invite you to check out the information we offer.
Last week we did a post about packaging. Before we move on, I want to take a moment to talk about one element of packaging: covers. A book could have everything else right, but a bad cover could ruin the project.
There are whole websites and blogs dedicated to bad covers. Here are a few I found quickly.
The old saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover?” It is a nice thing to teach your kids, but the real world is brutal. With thousands of books being published each year, you don’t want someone to have to look past the cover to get to good content inside. There are just to many other good books with good covers.
Most authors are word people. You are creative, obviously, but maybe your artistic eye could use a little work. Even if you think you have good taste, ask people who will be straight up with you. And the kind of people who would buy your book. I wouldn’t ask my grandma if she likes my cover for a book about coaching basketball. My grandma will think anything I do is just wonderful, and though she went to a lot of my games when I was in high school, she still doesn’t know the difference between a travel and a 3-second call.
Another trap to be aware of is the artwork produced by your beloved ____ (fill in the blank with boyfriend, kid, cousin, friend, etc.). By all means, if you have a talented acquaintance that is willing to help you, use them! But still run the book past others to see if the cover works. I’ve talked to too many publishers who brought their cover to BookMasters to evaluate, and when we suggested a change, they said, “oh no, I have to use that image, my cousin sketched it!” Or “but I wanted a picture of my son on the cover” (of a cookbook?)
Your cover is just too important to the success of the book. You need to be able to set aside your attachments to how you might like the cover to look and do the hard work of seeing what will work for the market. And you need to get opinions from people who can be objective.
You are now on the road to getting your packaging right. Check back next week for more of the p’s of publishing.
Have a book that you feel flopped because of packaging? Post a link here so others can learn from your mistakes. Let us know what you think you did well and what you would change in retrospect.