Now I'm back on the soapbox about my disastrous first book launch. So here's a tip:
Splurge on your book cover!
I didn't and came to regret it. For my first novel, I made a cover using a photograph of my daughter and the Paint program that came with my computer. I was so proud of myself for spending zero dollars. In hindsight, the cover looked completely unprofessional, but I convinced myself it was good enough. However, slow sales forced me to ask the hard question. If I think the book is only worth a zero dollar cover, what does that say to the reader about its contents?
It was truly an epiphany, but only half an epiphany. I bit the bullet and paid $15.00 for stock art, purchased online from Dreamstime or Shutterstock. Then, using Paint again, I slapped on a title and my name. Not quite as ugly as the first cover, but still unprofessional.
Just as long as the interior story was good, I was operating under the delusion that readers wouldn’t care so much about the cover. Now if you’re name is Neil Gaiman, that might hold true, but for the rest of us, looks matter. My sales continued to tank, but I remained puzzled as to why. After reading dozens of self-published books with great covers on the outside, lousy writing on the inside, and impressive sales, I begrudgingly accepted the fact that a great cover was an absolute must an author without name recognition. I know, I know, it’s such an obvious thing to an outsider. I’m a slow learner, I guess. But the obvious finally clicked. No more homemade covers for me!
God help you if you are anything like I was starting out. You’ll find a million excuses as to why you can’t afford a nice cover. But you’re wrong. What you can’t afford is a bland one that gets ignored!
Nonetheless, some of us simply don’t have a lot of spare change. Original artwork is expensive, but your cover doesn’t have to be totally original to catch a potential reader’s eye. For the pocketbook challenged, I suggest going to a site with pre-made covers, such as: http://www.selfpubbookcovers.com
. But they’re not the only game in town, so do a Google search. You can find some really cool ones for $50 to $100.
If I haven’t convinced you of the importance of a great cover, read my lame analogy. An ugly cover is like a fishing line without a dried up worm dangling on the end. Its surrounded by fishing lines with fat juicy worms. Now imagine a hungry fish that just happens to casually swim by. He’s going to ignore the skinny worm and go straight for the fat ones. In a nutshell, the less well-known you are as an author, the more spectacular your cover needs to be!
All of this being said, a great cover and grammatically perfect book doesn’t guarantee sales. So what does? Hell if I know. But I do know that both of these can be roadblocks to a novel that might have taken off to the moon. Don’t neglect them, or you’ll always wonder what might have happened if you had launched your book correctly the first time. I know I do.