Making your own book cover? You shouldn’t.

In almost every poll of indie authors I’ve seen recently, covers are cited as the number one reason they are attracted to a book as a reader. And what I mean by that very convoluted sentence is this, readers look at a cover first when they are considering a purchase.

It’s no surprise. A proper cover will tell us a bit about the story; genre, sex and age of the protagonists, location, etc. The cover image sparks our imagination as to what the story holds. Will there be pirates or unbelievably fantastic creatures? Is that an assassin peeking out from behind that tree?

A well crafted cover also sets the expectation of the quality of work inside. And this is a very important point. A top-notch cover indicates a top-notch story. It means the author cared about the quality of their book. In other words, it won’t suck.

It’s only then, once our interest is engaged and we’ve subconsciously determined the book might be worthwhile, that we check the blurb or flip through a couple pages. But if you haven’t grabbed our interest with your cover, we won’t bother with that step. And that’s a situation that won’t make you any sales.

So why do so many indie authors make their own covers? Most of us aren’t graphic artists. We don’t have that sort of ‘eye’. We paint pictures with words not photoshop.

I completely understand the desire to see what you can do. I posted a cover I did of Night of Redemption. It didn’t turn out badly, but I still plan on letting a pro do the ‘real’ cover. Because I simply don’t know enough to finish if off and make it look, well, like a pro did it.

This website is a prime example. If you’ve visited my page at all recently then you had a firsthand view of what I’m talking about. I previously had up a background that I had made. I was very proud of this background because a.) I had made it my own self and b.) it was seamless and I MADE IT MY OWN SELF. How cool is that?

However, as proud as I was of my creation, after looking at it for a couple weeks I could see how amateurish it was. It looked like something someone relatively inexperienced with photoshop would create. So basically, any high school freshman. What I have up now is a little bit better. I’m still not happy with the look of my site, though.

Look, I get that starting out is tough. Paying for a cover, editing, formatting, promotions, more promotions, even more promotions. It feels like a money pit. But if you want to be a serious writer you need to get serious about the details.