So, I have learned a lot in the last year. When I look back and think how little I knew about self publishing when I started down the road in March 2013, it is astonishing how much has changed. I have to admit that I am still a relative newbie though and as such can make mistakes (No! I hear you cry, surely not?).
I published my first novelette ‘Paradise’ just over two weeks ago now, having spent what felt like an age getting everything right (I think). I edited, re-edited and then sent it off to a professional editor and then edited it again myself before deciding it was ready for release. I then did something very, very dumb. I decided that a book cover concept that I had been working on, which was really rather quirky (check it out for yourself here) was suitable for use when the book was released.
I pressed the publish button and congratulated myself on a job well done. I got really lucky on the first day when a reviewer purchased it and gave it a great review (check it out here). I was stupidly happy. Someone else bought the book the same day. Then…. nothing. I decided to take action and forwarded the book to a couple of reviewers. One agreed to review it and posted another great review (check it out here), again I was delighted and then…. nothing.
I know that it’s hard work to sell books as a self published author, so I took a few days off my ‘Paradise’ project and returned to the other, much larger work, I am writing called ‘Hope’ (working title).
I revisited the Amazon web page for ‘Paradise’ at the weekend and realised something for the first time. The cover I designed looks amateur in the extreme (in fact it could be described as more than a little bit naff). Could this be what is putting people off buying the book? I thought. Whilst it is only one factor amongst many (discoverability being another very important one), I decided as a point of pride (deeply embarrassed that I had been unable to make an objective assessment of the cover) that I would have to do something about it.
There followed a mad search of the internet as I looked for a design solution. There are many companies offering off the shelf book covers that you just add your own title to, but I wanted something unique and special.
I had seen the new book by author Lindsay Buroker, ‘Balanced on a blade’s edge‘ and absolutely loved the cover. I searched using the ‘look inside’ feature and couldn’t find details of the cover designer. On a whim, I Googled it and stumbled upon a discussion board that mentioned a company known as Deranged doctor design (DDD). In retrospect this was like striking oil on the first drill. I had no idea if they could be trusted, but I did love the cover for Lindsay Buroker’s book so I thought I would take a risk.
DDD have a system where, if they accept a commission (and they don’t accept them all), they send design concepts without charging you up front. They only charge you when you have approved a design. In my case it took them a couple of days to give me a concept that I was absolutely delighted with (see the cover above, what do you think?). I would highly recommend them for their professionalism and patience (not to mention their artistic skills). I have to state here that I have no financial interest in their company, I’ve never even met them.
I have now uploaded the new cover to Amazon, but sadly (and I hadn’t realised this) it takes them a few days to change the book cover in the Amazon store.
So for the next few days my old, crappy, cover will remain. I cannot wait, however, to see the new cover go up, for (I think) my pride will be restored.
What I hadn’t realised initially is that people really do judge a book by its cover. Whether it makes a difference to sales or not is another matter, but really, honestly, I don’t care. I have something I think I can be proud of (you may have noticed I have festooned my blog with banners and images of the new cover!)
The moral of this story? Get a good cover! (and don’t, ever, ever, think you’re a designer, because the odds are you aren’t!).
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