Friday, 14 October 2011

Designing your ebook cover – mixing creativity with sales acumen on a budget


We all know that people do judge books by their covers. Books, especially ebooks, live or die by their title and cover so how do you get yours to jump out from the shelf or web page?

The task for Working from Home was a particularly difficult as it straddles three genres: lad’s lit; chick lit and business self-help. I was very aware that if the book cover loitered too much in one area it would turn off the people from the other two camps.

Whilst I pride myself on my creativity, working with images is not one of my core skills. I knew it would take longer to create a professional looking cover than it would to do all the editing for the book!

I did some Internet research and found some companies that offered to design the cover and provide the completed images for just over £60 ($98). This includes unlimited changes until you are happy. A quick costing exercise showed that I would need to sell 20 books to pay for this.

However, I looked through the ebooks for sale on Amazon and it became obvious there were three types of covers: covers from existing paperbacks that looked professional; eye-catching covers that looked professional and er, template covers. These template covers looked as if they had either been done at home or they just looked unoriginal and bland.

I sent out some queries about ebook cover design on Facebook and Twitter and in amongst the comments and recommendations was a message from networking friend offering to have a chat about it.

Angela Ellis from www.stopthetrain.co.uk is one of a large group of people who I have exchanged information and banter with online, but have never met. Our phone call was the first time we had spoke, but as we ‘knew’ each other it was easy to be blunt. Principally around the fact that it was going to cost more to get the book designed than it was to get a quick fix ‘off the shelf’.
Angela is one of the few people who listens properly to what you say and she was able to come up with some ideas and prices. We had a few chats, looked at some images via their clever back-end tool and I went away on holiday.

I came back to a cover that fulfilled my brief. More importantly it seems to work, not just in terms of compliments, but in pre-publication orders for the book.

The entire process cost me the equivalent of 100 books sales compared to the 20 from the cheap version. Will the cover alone bring in this number of sales? Time will tell, but I’m confident it will be an excellent investment.

Of course, as I’ve written a book set in business networking circles I know a trick or two about win-win situations. I knew that as Angela runs a marketing and communications company she will want to tell as many people as possible about the cover her team designed. Most of these people are my target audience so my investment starts to look better all the time!

You can find Angela and her team at www.stopthetrain.co.uk She won’t give you a sales pitch but she’ll probably give you a few excellent ideas. Say that I sent you and ask her about her gorgeous dogs!

You can find out more information about Working from Home and add your name to my swanky spreadsheet to be alerted when it is published on 18th April here.

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