Some of you might remember this book, which I started on way back in the summer of 2013. After writing around 10,000 words I shelved the book and let it sit until December of that year. At that point I dusted it off and added 60,000 words to it over the span of a month. Those original 10,000 words? Those actually became the book’s second part, or a piece of the midsection.
Anyways, the book got finished, and like all finished books, it needed a cover. Thankfully this book’s had been made already, and it looked like this:
Currently the book has a ranking of #1,036,125…meaning its sales are shit and it’s going nowhere fast. Because I know a bit of how Amazon works, however, I have constant visibility. Yep, this puppy’s #61 in Children’s eBooks – Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, & Myths – Norse. That was the only category I could get it any visibility on, which must mean this category is darn useless.
So why haven’t I gotten a new cover for it? I mean, didn’t I just get all new covers for a few books a couple months back?
The reason is because I was holding out for Johnny Atomic to make me a cover, which he said he’d do last fall. His schedule recently opened up and now he can make me one. I’m pretty taken aback by this, because as anyone that has visited Atomic Covers will tell you, this cover designer really knows his stuff, and the big companies know it.
The thing is, however, Johnny Atomic isn’t a cover designer. After talking with him on Skype today about my book and what he does, he told me that he calls himself a cover painter.
What’s a cover painter?
To really understand what a cover painter is, we need to talk a bit about how eBook cover images are created today.
If you’re like me, you probably search out “top eBook cover designers” or something like that on Google and then go to a site, look at some samples, and then either get a premade or a custom cover package. After that you wait a bit and then get your cover over email and then upload it onto Amazon and then Voila! – you’re done.
But…what does the artist do? And don’t think for a second that they aren’t artists…and that they’re not painting. Take a look at this video of people using a Wacom Cinteq 24 HD Interactive Pen Display:
Of course I had to watch the whole thing, because who would have thought you could just paint right onto a screen using a stylus like that, and get images like you’re seeing there? I certainly didn’t, that’s for sure!
This is how your eBook covers are being made today, or at least that’s how they should be. If they’re not, you’re going to be at a serious disadvantage – you’re going to have a book like The Hirelings, one that doesn’t sell because the cover is all off.
When I was talking to Johnny today he mentioned a few things that every writer needs to remember:
- No one cares about your book;
- People buy books because they know the author or like the cover;
- For people to like your cover, it needs to evoke a powerful emotion that relates to a story.
What is that story? Your cover doesn’t necessarily need to be telling us that, and perhaps it shouldn’t. Perhaps a cover that tells the book’s story is the worst thing you can have.
But to tell an idea, to offer a feeling, an emotional connection that the reader can relate to upon first glance and that will now be embedded into not only their mind but their very soul? That is the realm of art.
I encourage you to look at my previous cover designer posts, on the Top 10 eBook Cover Design Sites as well as 16 Deviant Artists for Sci-Fi and Fantasy eBook Covers. Both have serious artists that can give you that cover that you will need to make it as a writer, and if you need to see what award-winning eBook covers look like, Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer Cover Contests are the place to look.
These cover are expensive, yes, but what are the opportunity costs of having something like you see on The Hirelings now?
- How many readers did I lose, readers that perhaps will never read a Greg Strandberg book for the rest of their days? And folks, I've got 50 others.
- How many readers will you lose if you try putting covers on your books, homemade things like I started my self-publishing journey with?
Think about these things as you start off 2015. It’s the time of year where you take stock, look back on where you’ve been, and figure out where you’re going. I’ve been a full-time writer for almost two years now, and while I scrape by most months, I get to wake up each morning, eager to do what I like to do.
That’s a great feeling, and having a great eBook cover can help you achieve it.