I am now one step closer to the release of my novella, My Brother, Romeo.
Today, I sent my acceptance of a quote for cover design by the talented folks at Design for Writers. This is the same firm that did the gorgeous cover for my novel, State v. Claus. If you’re an indie author looking for professionals to handle your cover, I highly recommend Design for Writers. (Note: They didn’t ask me to say this, nor are they giving me any kind of deal or perks for recommending them. I’m saying it because I remember how many hours I spent researching cover designers, and I’m hoping to save somebody else a little time.)
A lot of indie authors design their own covers. As far as I can tell, the leading reason for this is price. I absolutely understand this: the chances of either of my books earning out their production costs is slim, to put it nicely. And yet, I’m hiring out my cover design.
Some may think this is a bad business model, especially for a freelancer whose income has fluctuated wildly during the pandemic (and, to be frank, for pretty much her entire freelance career). I understand that mindset. Nonetheless, I’m hiring out my cover design for a few simple reasons:
- Book covers are phenomenally important. People really do judge a book by its cover. When they’re scrolling online, all they’ll see is a thumbnail, so the cover has to make them want to click to find out more. When I was researching cover design for State v. Claus, one statistic that came up again and again was that your cover has approximately one second to get a potential reader’s attention before they scroll to the next title. A bad cover can mean the difference between a click or a pass.
- If the book is quirky, it can be difficult to find a premade cover that works. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, premade covers are exactly that: you purchase a design that already exists, and you customize certain aspects for your book. You can find literally thousands of potential premade covers online. I can’t speak for all the sites, but on the ones I reviewed, once you purchase the design, they remove it from their site so nobody else can buy it for their book. A friend has used premade covers for her books, and they’re lovely. After seeing her books, I looked into premade covers when I was working on the cover of State v. Claus. I seriously considered a couple of premade designs, but I couldn’t find anything I loved, which was why I ended up with Design for Writers. Since My Brother, Romeo is a novella, a premade cover seemed like the most cost-effective option. I scoured the internet, but I couldn’t find anything that even came close because the story includes so many different elements: brothers, theater, cowboys, Shakespeare, and the early 1960s.
- I know where my talents lie, and design isn’t one of them. If I’d had an entire lifetime to do nothing but create a cover design, I could never have come up with the one that Design for Writers created for State v. Claus. When I visualized the book before they presented their designs, I had an entirely different idea of how it would look—but as soon as I saw their designs, I knew why they’re the professionals and I’m not. Before making my selection, I showed the choices to a number of people—readers, writers, booksellers, and even a random stranger in a bookstore. Without exception, they exclaimed over how beautiful the designs were. Anything I designed would have gotten that fake-enthusiastic reaction people muster when a proud parent shows them a baby which is (to use a friend’s term) “unfortunate-looking” (as in, “let’s all pray this kid grows into that nose”).
- To me, it’s worth the investment. This is a completely personal decision. It depends on what resources you can allocate toward this part of the production process as well as how important it is to you that the book earn back its expenses. Personally, while I’d love it if either of my books earns out, I’m not holding my breath. Also, since I lack design talent, pure math comes into play: in the time it would take for me to create an okay cover, I can earn the money I’ll be paying for Design for Writers to create a fabulous one that, in turn, will increase the chances that My Brother, Romeo might earn back some of my investment.
So for what it’s worth, I’ve made my decision. The next step will be to fill out an extremely detailed questionnaire about the book and my preferences in cover design. Once I send that in, within a few weeks, I’ll have at least two bespoke designs from which to choose. After that, we’ll make whatever tweaks to the design seem to be warranted, and voilà—a story I originally concocted long ago will be one step closer to publication.