(My apologies if you’re getting a little tired of me posting nothing but ebook advice–I haven’t had a lot of time to blog much else this month! For those of you missing my traditional content, don’t miss my newsletter this month! I’m just wrapping it up and it’s gonna be delish. Sign up for the newsletter right in my sidebar. Don’t miss it, ’cause I have no idea how to make the archives accessible to late-comers! LOL)
No matter how good your content is, people still judge a book by it’s cover—especially in the online world. Your cover is your first–and often your only–chance to catch the eye of your audience and make a good impression.
The experts say, if you put money anywhere in your eBook, this is where you should hire an expert.
I’m not arguing with that. Yet if you…
- have some degree of capability with a photo editing software, and
- an eye for good design when you see it,
…there’s no reason you can’t try this on your own. Here’s how we did it…
Step #1 Analyze the Competition
I actually had no clue where to begin when up-grading my ebook cover, until a thoughtful friend sent me links to dozens of cookbooks she thought had great covers.
I totally recommend checking out the best seller list on Amazon in your book’s category to see see what’s new and popular.
When a cover caught my eye (or even convinced me to buy!) I asked myself why it worked. Was it the subtitle? The bright colors in the graphic? A clear but unique font?
Step #2 Make a List
After viewing dozens of cook book covers, I actually had a list of elements I’d seen that I liked and wanted to incorporate into my own cover:
- White Space—I wanted the photo I used to have areas (background or foreground or both) that were out of focus so I’d be able to put my title right on top of my graphic.
- Color—I was leaning toward a bold use of color, as bright colors were the most memorable to me in the books I was browsing.
- Layers—I liked the covers that had several layers—words layered over pictures, subtitles layered over ‘skins’ and graphics that overlapped. I felt that layers really drew me in and gave a richer and more professional impression.
Your list of ‘must haves’ may be different, but I’ll venture to say this list is a great starting point.
Step #3 Go Shopping
Next we had to find an image or graphic for our cover. We spent a lot of time browsing stock photo sites, and actually did a mock up with a photo we bought (for $10), only to find out it had already been used as an ebook cover! We realized we wanted to go with a privately owned photo, and even considered a kitchen themed-photo shoot with a photographer friend. That’s when God stepped in and provided the perfect photo, despite my non-existent photography skills.
If you have trouble finding an image, scan the fb pages of friends who love to take photos, or do a contest on your blog, asking for submissions! Just keep in mind your list of what you’re looking for in a photo, so you’ll know it when you see it.
When I snapped the photo of the blueberry pancakes cooking on my griddle, I immediately recognized its potential to fulfill my wish-list. It had subtle colors that would compliment bold font shades and plenty of ‘white space’ for my text. The depth of the photo also drew me in and would support several layers of design.
Step #5 Choose Your Tools
My husband used Adobe Photoshop to create my ebook cover. If you want to try a free photo editing software that’s made for tech-dummies like me, do not underestimate the power of picmonkey. I created the graphic for this series all by myself on picmonkey. I think it’s pretty cute, don’t you?
Step #6 Bring It All Together
Your cover is usually comprised of Title, Subtitle, Author Name (you!), and a Graphic that supports and enhances your subject matter. When we sat down to create our cover, we made decisions on how to bring these elements together based on:
- Balance—there is actually weight in design, and you must aim for balance between the various elements on your cover.
Weigh your cover from side to side and top to bottom. If your title font is heavy, and your first letter a bold and flourished capital, that weighs down the left side of your cover. Even things out by arranging your subtitle or the focal point of your graphic toward the right side of the cover. If you’re title’s up top, and your graphic down below, make sure they have equal weight. Even if you take the easy way out and center all your text, your graphic itself may throw you off balance.
Things that add weight are bold color (especially darker tones), bold fonts, or big images. Lighter elements include subtle colors, fine-lined fonts, and small pictures.
- Contrast—From my floral design days, I know that contrast is essential in a good arrangement. Pay attention to the texture of each element you add to your design. If your graphic has a busy texture or bright colors, choose a smooth, bold font in a neutral color. It’s fine to use several different fonts on your cover, as long as they don’t compete. These, too, should contrast. Is your title big and flourishy? let your subtitle contrast by being small and tidy. And let your name be an even quieter font.
- Viewing it Small—with ebooks, your customer’s first impression is usually a small impression—in a sidebar ad or the shelf of an online-book store. Your cover must look good and be readable at 120 pixels wide. If your viewer can’t even see what your book is about ‘cause they can’t read your subtitle, they will often move on without a second glance. Think small!
Step #7 Take a Vote
I know, I know–I harp on this a lot! (Don’t DIY by Yourself!) But you really do need a few second opinions for this stage! Once you get a design that you think might float, send it to your mastermind group or a few close friends you trust for unbiased opinions. Ask for their impressions and input. Sometimes it’s tricky discerning between personal preference and good advice, but if two or three of your friends say the same thing (‘”you need a better subtitle” or “the color seems a bit off”) you should be willing to make changes.
You can also put a few different mock-ups on your blog or facebook page to ask for votes. Your readers will LOVE getting in on the project with you!
In the end, if you like it, and your friends don’t see any major flaws, go for it. Upload that baby and put a face on all your hard work!
Now it’s time to ship…Or is it? Next we’ll discuss the question, “How big must my platform be before I can successfully launch an eBook?”
What about you? Is this the one part of your book you’ll probably delegate, or have my tips given you courage that this could be in your strength zone after all? Oh, and how’s the writing going? I’ve been praying for each of you… 😉