Anatomy of an indie book cover

From the moment I decided to self-publish “Vampire Brides from Planet Hell” I knew cover design would be a significant challenge. Cover design is absolutely critical. Like it or not people do judge books by their covers. For an indie author, a solid cover demonstrates your commitment to putting out a quality product. It’s also probably the single greatest marketing material you’ll have in your arsenal. A good cover telegraphs the book’s content and style. It lets the reader know what to expect. Most importantly, if done well it will get you that all-important 5 seconds of undivided attention that can turn into a sale.

My first foray into indie publishing ended as a miserable failure. One of my major mistakes was not investing in professional cover art. I am not a graphic artist and this was transparently obvious in that product. It had a direct impact on my (lack of) sales.

This time I’m committed to doing it right.

Sounds simple, right? The problem is that good covers are expensive. Fortunately I came across selfpubbookcovers.com, which sells pre-made covers at affordable prices. It also offers a simple set of tools for customizing text over the image. Prices start at $69. Most of the covers I looked at ranged in price from $69-100. A few were over $100. I suspect the artists set prices themselves as there didn’t seem to be any reason or rhyme to the pricing.

I looked at a lot of covers but in the end it came down to these two:

possible cover for indie book

Cover Option #1 – by Santiaguete

I liked the minimalist style of this first cover. However, I was never quite happy with the text no matter how much I played with it. On top of that, I had my doubts about whether the image did a good job of conveying the content and tone of the actual story. As you can probably guess “Vampire Brides from Planet Hell” is a pulpy space adventure. I just couldn’t shake the pirate vibe that came along with this cover.

Option 2 seemed a much better fit:

indie book cover

Cover Option #2 – by Grinder13

It took a while to get the text the way I wanted it, but I think the end result positively SCREAMS pulp. It might have a bit more of a horror flavor, but I’m willing to live with that as I think this is quite the eye-catching cover. At $75 it’s a bargain, too.

So far this project is running even more smoothly than anticipated. In addition to the cover I have a converted draft of the original manuscript ready for proofing in EPUB and MOBI format. While I proof the formatting I plan to make some minor line edits as well. May as well make all the improvements I can while I have the chance. I still plan on having the finished product ready for launch in two weeks at the latest.

This week I plan to proof, read up on distribution and try and get the word out on social media.

As always, I welcome any comments from readers and writers.

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