Writing books as an independent author means there are many tasks that I deal with that are not writing. Obviously, I write the books; but just as important are the other items that must be accomplished. For some of these I hire people to assist, but the decisions on what these things become is up to me. The one I enjoy the most is deciding on the book cover.
This is an artistic, practical and money decision. You could spend a fortune on a book cover or almost nothing. Most writers will not spend a fortune, since they don’t have it; they will go somewhere within that range. Most will be on the low end, like mine.
My fist book cover was The Bootlegger’s Legacy. At that point in time, I wanted perfection and spent more on the cover than I was comfortable with because I thought everything was incredibly important. Still have no idea if this cover helped book sales or not. I liked the cover but probably would not select this approach if redoing the design.
Another aspect of covers is a series theme. The next book was going to be the first of a series of books—Dog Gone Lies. The cover was selected because it lent itself to carrying on that theme. This was mostly color with some minor additions that would be compatible across a whole series. Really liked the boldness of the design and the colors. Thought the three books in this series had impactful covers. Dog Gone Lies has been my best-selling book, but it is probably not due to the cover, more about having dog in the title.
The next series was Vincent Malone. The whole approach here, I think, was due mostly to my jaded view of the value of covers. I was interested but not dedicated to the process of developing the cover. Since one of my goals at this point was to not spend much, the covers have always left me a little disappointed. This series was not innovative and built off the Pacheco & Chino style. Simplistic and bold.
Durango Two Step is the fourth book in this series. The pre-order will be available in the next few weeks. That means a new cover.
Once again, I like the colors, but there is something missing. Keep in mind I don’t know what I mean by missing. If I knew, I could add it. Part of the issue with covers is that in most cases they are viewed as ridiculously small thumbnail sizes. If you were in a bookstore, the impact of the cover is different than viewing the cover on-line at a small size.
The murder books (Muckraker/Tommy Jacks books) have had two or three different covers. I like the latest ones and even like many that were rejected. As best I can tell all the revisions have had zero impact on sales. Now maybe all the covers were bad, but still there should have been some noticeable impact on changing the covers. I would say the whole effort and cost of changing that series covers several times was a complete waste.
I see covers where there has been obviously a tremendous amount of effort and cost expended. These covers often have unique artwork conveying elements of the plot. They are elaborate and beautiful. If your goal is to win a book cover award, this is the way to go; if you goal is to sell books, it is a waste of time and money (maybe?). Even with that said, if I had the money (to waste) I would have all new covers for my books, and they would be original art with detail impossible to see at the small size and no impact on books sales. Why, because I love book covers.
Simplistic, bold book covers can be effective in creating book sales; but the most interesting covers have real meaning within the artistic representation of that book. Below are some that have caught my eye. In most cases I know nothing about the book itself, it’s just the cover that caught my attention.
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, might be good advice in evaluating people, but quite often the cover of a book does offer a way to judge and to do so correctly.