Home > Thoughts > My journey to self-published, Part 4 – Cover Art

My journey to self-published, Part 4 – Cover Art

February 20, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

So what is the next step in publishing my own ebook? Oh, right, one of the most important facets of a new author’s ebook. The cover. Cover you say? Who cares about the cover – since when do people judge a book by its cover? Get rid of that thinking right away. In the online world, in a potentially-crowded field of authors, you need to catch a buyer’s attention. Go to Amazon.com, under Kindle books, and pick your favorite genre. What are the results? “Showing 15 of 57,212” maybe? What’s the first thing you see on that page? Is it the quality writing? The famous author name? A unique plot twist? Some big “Buy Me” image? No, it’s the cover art. If you don’t put together a quality cover, unique design with bold fonts and an eye catching color scheme, no one will click the link to see if it’s worthwhile to buy. It’s that simple.

I designed a piece of cover art for fun during NaNoWriMo; I ‘borrowed’ a cool image I found from an X-Box 360 game, blurred out some background, whited out the game name text, and used a graphics program to put my title and name on it, in some awesome bright yellow Impact font. Man, this rocks! I thought. Can’t wait to post this on my NaNoWriMo author page, my buddies will be so jealous! But after completion, and realizing that I may just be putting this sucker out for sale, I knew I couldn’t stick with ripped-off game artwork.

I did some research, ran across some designers that charge $200-$400 per book, and the work looked great. However for my debut, starting with a $22.50 budget (which was already used up) and spending more and more on red wine, I thought I’d do it myself, the right way, for less.

I found many public domain photos and artwork online, along with royalty-free work (where you pay a one-time price and the art is yours to do with as you please). I ended up using a free desktop wallpaper background that specifically said it was free to use for personal or commercial purposes. I already own some nice graphics editing software (highly recommend Adobe Fireworks), but there are several free options out there – get one. I cropped out an attractive and relevant portion of it, put in the title and author name (in a much more refined font, after looking through my local Borders – which will soon be gone, by the way), and voila. A cover.

I checked with Amazon and Barnes & Noble about dimensions and file size for ebook covers, made it fit. and added it to Scrivener (did I mention Scrivener is freakin’ awesome?) I recompiled the file with cover art (which, by the way, takes less than ten seconds in Scrivener – product plug again), and bam. There are my files, ready to go. And I sat there. And stared at the laptop. Bit my nails. Had another glass of red wine. And chickened out, put it aside, and went to bed. Didn’t sleep a wink.

February 2nd rolled around that next morning, coffee calling to me. Oh, did you catch the timeline? Finished final book editing on January 31st, and was ready to publish two days later. I went back to the laptop, looked at the Scrivener files, and said, What the hell?

I went into my Amazon account (I buy there frequently), went to the Kindle Desktop Publishing section, agreed to the terms, uploaded the file and description, named my price, and clicked OK. What happened next might have been the coolest thing of all…

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