Sunday, May 11, 2014

Amazon Book Optimization Tip # 3 - Make Your Cover Sizzle

Readers are going to be attracted to your book by three things – the title, the cover, and the buzz surrounding it. 

Whatever you do, don’t design your cover yourself. No matter how good you think you are, or how great you think your idea is, don’t design your own cover. Don’t let your best friend or baby sister do it either. Your cover is too important to be left to chance.

I gotta admit I’m a serial Fiverr. I’ve outsourced 179 graphic design gigs on Fiverr in the last six months. Some of the work you receive is so-so, but a lot of the gigs posted on Fiverr deliver professional quality designs. The results, like anything else, depend upon the effort you put into it.

I use RRoxx for most of my covers. He does great work, and my projects are always delivered on time. Here’s the link to his gig if you want to check it out

You can also outsource your cover on Elance, 99 Designs, or odesk. Each of these sites has experienced graphic designers who can help you design a professional cover to help sell your book.

The key to getting a great deign is to know what you want before you select a designer. Look at other books in your genre. You don’t want to steal anyone else’s design, but normally there’s a common theme running through many of the book covers. If you find something you like, download that cover so you can send it to your designer. Tell them you like this cover, but you have a few ideas to change it up for your own. You can also send your designer three or four covers that you like to let them know this is the style you’re thinking of.

Sometimes I know exactly what I want, and I’ll put together a short sketch. Other times, I’ll let the designer know I have no idea what I want. When this is the case, I normally have four or five designers create a concept for me. If none of the designs that come back are exactly what I’m looking for, I’ll try again. Sometimes I might like different portions of several covers, and I’ll have one of the designers put it all together for me.

Most recently, I’ve been more concerned about controlling the images used on my book covers. Some designers on Fiverr have an up-charge to purchase clip art for you, but you never know. If they grab a piece of art without the proper license, it’s your butt that’s on the line for a lawsuit. Another issue I’ve run into is I don’t remember which designer I used to make some of my earlier covers. This creates problems when I release audio books and paperbacks because I don’t know where to purchase clip art rights for the newer versions of those covers.

Because of this, I’ve begun sourcing most of the clip art for my covers myself before giving the project to a designer. This way I know, I’m legal and hold the proper licenses for all of the artwork used on my covers. I get most of my clip art from Can Stock Photo, Their prices are reasonable and range from $2.50 to $10.00 per use.

I don’t claim to be a lawyer or anything, but keep in mind, you need to pay each time you use a piece of clipart. So if your book is available as an eBook, paperback, and audio book, you need to purchase the rights to the clipart three separate times.

After I’ve picked out the images to use, I put together specific instructions for the cover designer.

I would like a book cover for an Audible audio book. The cover size is 2500 x 2500 pixels. It needs to be a perfect square, and all of the text and images need to be fitted to it. You cannot stretch out the original book cover to fit the space. They will reject the cover.
I am enclosing the original clipart, and a copy of the original book cover. Please keep as close to the original design as possible.

Be sure to specify the exact cover size. Even when you’re ordering an eBook cover, every designer seems to deliver it in slightly different dimensions. When you order a Create Space cover, make sure you let the designer know it needs to be delivered as a .pdf file, and that it needs to conform to the Create Space sizing guidelines. I’ve had several designers deliver the paperback cover as a jpeg, and as a result, it was unusable.

If you’re ordering a paperback cover for Create Space you need to specify the trim size (example: 6 x 9), the paper style (cream or white), the page style (black and white or color), and how many pages are in your book. Your designer requires all of this information to properly size your cover. You will also need to supply any text or illustrations for the back cover blurb. If you want printing on the spine, you need to specify the text. 

FYI: Your book needs to be at least 120 pages to have room for a printed message on the spine.

If you’re not sure about your cover or your book concept, it can be a good idea to have several covers ready to go. That way if your book gets off to a slow start you can switch covers and see which one does a better job.

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