I have spoken before about the controversial nature of book cover design, popping into any online writers forum will show you the discussion between people’s differing opinions on what makes a good cover. “Definitely option 1”, “can you do a combination of option 2 and option 3?”, “option 3 without the red lines” etc. As every new book cover is a different challenge Out of Your Head and Onto the Page has a whole session on this very topic.
Cover Your Design talks you through what your cover needs to convey, what will appeal to your ideal reader, and how to stand out in an overcrowded market. You’ll also learn how to get reliable focus group and beta reader feedback, and what the benefits of handing cover design over to a professional are.
How do I know this stuff? Because of the big mistake I made on my first cover, excitement and impatience got to me once Down with Frogs was ready to go. So, much so that it didn’t seem a big deal to skip the focus group part of the process. BIG mistake, I ended up with a basic cover that appealed to no-one (not even me!). It said nothing about the modern, quirkiness of the stories within, and if anything, it put prospective readers off – which is not a good look.
When it started to feel embarrassing to show people the book, I knew a change was needed. So, one designer, one focus group, one set of feedback later we arrived at the cover Down with Frogs has now. I love it, I feel proud that this is my book – and I want you to have that same feeling when you get to hold your book in your hand.
For my second book I had two covers designed around it’s themes and ran a Facebook poll for the one most loved. However, because of the pandemic there was a delay in going to print, and the publisher suggested an update was needed. It was a bit of a blow after living with the cover that I thought we were using for eight months. The designer’s suggestions went to the focus group made up of my ideal readers, their comments and feedback eased my concerns. I was able to go back to the publisher, give them constructive feedback, and get the (small) changes made, in line with the constructive criticism of the people most likely to buy my book, enjoy it, recommend it, and buy a copy for their friends.
Just another lesson in the author journey, and one that reminds me why cover design needs a masterclass all of it’s own.