For those self-published authors, or planning to be self-published authors, or even those who are traditionally published, or wait, even readers out there…O.K., everybody: Do you judge a book by its cover?
Here’s three of my favorite authors in the fantasy genre…lovely covers (though Patricia’s don’t translate as well to digital thumb-nails because of the intricate detail).
These authors? Never read them. Maybe they are fabulous, but the covers turn me off.
I ask about your judging books by covers because I am preparing one of my novels’ e-book cover, and might like your help judging it. I say might, because I’m a tad apprehensive in general about throwing my baby out there into the world, let alone ASKING for judgement. You know how it is; you birth that first piece of writing, coddling her at first, then taking a firmer stand with strict editing. You watch her take her first steps when you give her to your test-readers, then reform her character with more edits and proper formatting for Smashwords (then do it all over again for Kindle). Finally, you cloak her in her new cover and…shove her out into the world of 1’s and 0’s to make her own way in the hurly-burly world of e-book fiction. It’s enough to make a parent-author weep.
I read all the advice, admonishments, and reprimands out there for would-be self-publishers. Don’t make your own cover; leave that to the professionals. Nothing says “self-published” like a home-made cover. People DO judge a book by its cover, and if yours is crap they won’t even look at your prose, etc. etc. Well…alright. So I looked at the professionals’ covers in my genre, and studied what makes a cover dynamite (this guy is snarky sometimes, but he had some really valid and helpful points). Then I thought, “What the hell, I’m an artist. My mother is an artist and photographer, we can do this together, right? How hard could it be?”
Well, it was hard, but really, really fun. I haven’t painted since my youngest was born seven years ago (something about having toxic, permanent paints out for little hands, and not having more than 5 consecutive minutes together for myself during daylight hours), so “painting” on the computer was a great re-connection to my two-dimensional art. Mom and I wielded our collective knowledge of design, composition, and color, and our skill with Photoshop and GIMP (the super-awesome free version of P.S.) to come up with a cover for Matchmaker of Magics (you can read the first chapter from my Novels page).
So that is where you all come in. I’d like your thoughts on whether we were able to create a cover that 1) is readable, 2) catches your eye at thumb-nail size, 3) would appeal to a Young Adult audience who reads fantasy, 4) gives you a sense of what the story might be about.
If you want, just leave a comment, or do a quick thumbs up/ down. Thank you readers!