You’re going to need a cover.
You may not be finished writing your book yet, but it’s never too early to start thinking about what you’d like the cover to look like. And if you haven’t, you should.
The cover design has far more impact on the eventual sales of your book than you might imagine, certainly more than I imagined. I’ve included along with this essay two covers for my first book, “Coyote Courage.”
The first one (above) is one I designed. It won an award for the design — and yet it did almost nothing to help generate sales. It didn’t stand out enough when stacked up against other books.
My previous blog post discussed Amazon categories and listings. Go back and pick any Western category, and scroll through it. Take a look at what jumps out at you visually. Start looking for a pattern in what draws your eye, which plays a huge role in helping you decide which book to purchase. Remember, not everyone is looking specifically for you — though we all wish everyone was. Many are simply scrolling through the list of new or best-selling Westerns to see what grabs their attention. Hopefully, your cover gets them to pick up your book, or click through and download it, something that is far more common in today’s market.
Do the graphics jump off of the page — or the screen? Is the cover image exciting, or passive? Does the book title leap out immediately? How about your own name? Below is the cover that my publisher and publicist switched my book to as soon as I signed with them.
The image is action-packed, and the title stands out immediately, as does my own name. It has the name of the series (A Brock Clemons Western), as well as the phrase “A Western Adventure,” which is great to help you get picked up in Google or Amazon searches.
Now, take a look at the two covers below, which are for the second and third books in the Brock Clemons Western series. Notice anything?
Of course you did. The second and third covers are very similar to the first cover, which is absolutely on purpose. The typeface is the same, as is the position of the title and my name. The black strip on the bottom, the heavy action graphics, the billowing clouds in the background — they all follow a pattern. If you were to take a look at Brock Clemons Volumes 4-6, or the two short story books in the Brock series, you will find they look very similar.
This is all by design. It is designed first to grab your attention as a reader, and second to make it so that when you see this pattern over time and repeatedly, you will begin to associate it with me. That way, should I be so fortunate as to have captured you as a reader, it will be easier for you to find my books.
I use a cover designer to do all of my covers now, and when my second series (Caz: Vigilante Hunter) came out, we worked hard to use some of the same elements (high-impact graphics, name in black on the bottom of the cover), yet make it different enough (the main changes being in the books’ title graphics) that readers would hopefully know it was me, but a second series.
My suggestion is, pick a cover you love, one that helps you get seen and generates sales, and one that you can use as a template for your second, third and even 15th books. But mostly, pick a cover you love that you think will look good on your desk, staring back at you as you get to work on your next book.
I wish you good writing, and if you have a question or something you’d like to share, send me an email at [email protected]scottharriswest.com.
Thank you, enjoy and keep writing!