This is specifically for writers – people who are planning to (or are in the process of ) writing a comic book, e-book, or novel.
If you’re not one of these people you can keep reading along if you like. 😉
Strap in, people…you’re in for a wild ride.
A few weeks ago I was facing a long car ride. Alone. Although I relished the opportunity to have some desperately-needed “me time”, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about the prospect of a 3 hours drive – especially down a highway where the landscape is wallpapered with nothing but old farms and bails of hay. Hell, the last time I drove it I wasn’t even lucky enough to see a cow.
So this time, I was going to be prepared: I signed up for an Audible.com account and searched for an audio book to download.
I had NO idea where to start. I was searching random authors and subjects until I came across an awesome cover that stopped my hyperactive clicking finger in its tracks: a Storm Trooper helmet hanging on a hook, covered in blood.
Huh? What? Within the confines of a PG-rated galaxy, it was beyond my comprehension that a Star Wars story could contain this level of carnage and bloodshed. How was this even possible? Instantly I clicked on the cover…
The book, ‘Star Wars: Death Troopers’ had a number of glowing reviews, specifically praising the narrator and the overall production value. It was only 6 hours long and was unabridged.
Listening to the audio book (which was really great, BTW) I found my mind wandering a little around hour 2…I realized something: I LITERALLY judged a book by its cover. Am I one of ‘those people’?
It was hard to say…yes, the reviews, the book summary, and of course the subject matter drew me in, but it was the cover that initially caught my eye, and resulted in the actual sale.
Taking an iconic image and doing something daring with it was all it took to hook me. If the cover had been generic – like a painting of a couple Storm Troopers, or a space ship flying through the galaxy, would I have passed it by? Probably.
So how important is the cover of a book, e-book or comic?
VERY. Let’s face it: if you’re creating a book – and reading this article – there is a 99.9999% chance that you’re not a million-selling author. Dan Brown and Stephenie Meyer have the luxury of throwing whatever piece of lame art they want on the covers of their books because their names alone will do the selling.
But you probably don’t have that luxury (yet).
You need to wow someone at a glance, and that’s nearly as difficult as writing an amazing book itself.
If you’re an artist, focus more on what you draw, rather than how you draw it (a tip I stole from comic book creator/genius Scott McCloud). If you’re hiring someone, get a clear picture in your mind of what you want, and give them explicit direction.
And if you’re planning to use photography, make it compelling. Nothing is worse than a lame picture that has little or nothing to do with the story.
The bottom line: Go pro. If you’re not an artist or a wizard with Photoshop, hire someone who is. Deviant Art is packed with talented people who are willing to create your dream cover for a reasonable fee.
If you’re serious about getting noticed, you shouldn’t be sweating over a hundred dollars on an art commission – it will be worth every penny in the longrun. The difference between an excellent cover and a boring one could be the difference between stagnant sales figures, and standing out in a sea of thousands of other titles.
I hope you enjoyed my first writing-related blog post in a while…I will try to keep them coming on a more consistent basis.
I love you guys (but you probably already know that…)