As far as I’m concerned, a book’s cover is one of the most important things you can have. It’s the first thing people see when they encounter your book, and it’s often one of the deciding factors in whether they buy your book or not.
- Your sales are low or non-existent;
- You made the cover yourself;
- Your cover doesn’t tell buyers what your book is about.
If you think that one or more of those 3 things might apply to your book’s cover, then it may be time for a change.
The Evolution of a Printed Novel’s Cover
When I finally decided to upload it onto Amazon I had no idea what I was doing. And I had no cover to boot. So what did I do? Go out and hire a professional graphic designer to make me a top-notch cover? No, I put out my crappy home-made map that I’d created with Microsoft Paint. Feast your eyes on this:
But would you want to buy a book with that cover? I didn’t think so. It tells you nothing of what the book is about and clearly looks homemade. I kept that cover for another few weeks before I once again got my act together. I went online, found some images I thought represented a few scenes in my book, and did some editing with Paint and PowerPoint. Here are the results:
I was violating the 3 reasons I listed earlier:
- My sales were low and if it wasn’t for family and friends, would have been non-existent;
- It’d be pretty obvious to most that I’d made the cover myself;
- And the cover didn’t do an adequate job of telling buyers what the book was about.
Getting Serious With My Cover (Sort Of)
I wanted to keep my original image of the ships mainly because I didn’t know what else to do. There’s a pivotal couple of chapters in The Jongurian Mission that take place at sea, and one ship is sunk by another. So in that regard the cover was accurate, sort of. The main problem is that I didn’t want buyers to think they were getting a book about sea battles. So what did I do with the image? Nothing, as you can see:
But do you notice anything? Take a good look at the title. See it? Yeah, that’s right, the title is misspelled. The book is called The Jongurian Mission, not The “Joungurian Mission.” I didn’t notice at all, so happy was I at getting a “professional” cover.
And do you know what I did next? I enrolled it in Amazon’s KDP Select program and set it free for 3 days with that cover. It wasn’t until someone on the Amazon KDP forum sent me an email over my website that the mistake was pointed out to me. I felt like a complete idiot!
I immediately contacted the guy in Europe and had him fix the cover, as you can see below:
The book is selling, though at a snail’s pace, although now that it’s permanently listed for free on Smashwords, with Amazon hopefully following suit on soon, I think I’ll leave it as it is. Could I get more downloads if I changed it to something better, perhaps paying someone $100 or more to really give me something great? I think so, most certainly.
But as you can see, this book has undergone many cover changes, all of them over a period of just four months. I originally published the novel in January, 2013, and put on the current cover in April of the same year.
So that’s the evolution of an eBook cover. Hopefully a few new authors can gain some insight from my experience, and not repeat my mistakes. eBook covers, just like print covers, can always change and evolve; they’re certainly not set in stone. Find what works, what doesn’t, and what ultimately makes you happy. And then set your sights on your next novel, and what its cover could be.
Update - Sept. 15, 2013
I think after awhile you start to alienate people by doing that, however, especially if you've sold enough copies of the book.
This book is now listed as perma-free on Amazon and all the other retailers, so go ahead and get a free copy if you're interested.