When I decided to self-publish my short story, Into the Shade, the idea was both exciting and a bit daunting to me. To put my stuff out there for just anyone to read (and leave feedback)? Yikes. It was getting the book cover that I found the most troublesome.
A book cover needs to catch a reader’s attention. It’s the first marketing move you make as a writer- a self published author. When you take the route with a publishing company, they will decide on the cover. They know the market, appeal to artists, and wrap the manuscript in nice packaging. As a self published author, you need to do the same.
The cover should include some element, a tease, of your story. With mine, I choose a dark, smoky background with a woman’s face in repose. I wanted to capture the elements of being in a dreamlike place, but also hinting at something sinister. I almost went with using a scene direct from the book, but in half shadow.
The cover can be a photograph, painting, print, or other media. My cover is a mix of 3D render created in DazStudio. (Dazstudio is free, but getting all the 3D models might cost you a bit. It’s a fun program to use.) I then photoshopped the rest. (You can use Gimp, which is similar to Photoshop but free)
I’ve seen some beautiful work at sites such as Deviantart, or use Google to look up artists that could do something specific for you.
It might cost some money, but consider cost of any marketing venture. Do you want people intrigued by the cover, to want to read the story inside? Does it grab their attention? Does it promise more? Consider a book cover as marketing material, which often finds its way as elements of your site, letterhead, and more. My short story perhaps doesn’t accomplish this, but my novel will.
Share your experiences with book covers in comments below. What are you thoughts on covers to your stories? What styles do you like? Photos, paintings, symbolic or literal?