Kindle Publishing: How to Commission
a Cover That Helps Sell Your eBook
by Marcia Yudkin
I'm a "word person," not
skilled with images. That's great for writing,
but it's a bit of a handicap when it comes to
creating covers for my Kindle ebooks.
Nevertheless, through trial and error, as well
as observations of people I've watched go
through the process, I have quite a bit of
advice to offer when it comes to commissioning a
cover that sells your ebook.
Work with someone who has
already designed covers for other Kindle
authors, whose style you like and who has
excellent customer reviews. Don't hire someone
who has top-notch artistic skills but hasn't
done ebook covers before, as they would be
learning on your dime and might very well make a
blunder you don't catch.
For example, did you know that
including the word "by" before the author's name
on a cover screams "amateur"? If you don't know
things like that, and your designer doesn't
know, either, then you end up with a cover that
looks somehow off to book buyers, although they
might not be able to say why.
Research covers of successful
books in your niche so you can give examples to
your designer of what you want to look like or
different from. For instance, for my latest
business title, I noticed a trend from the big
publishers of a lot of empty space on the cover
and a central image. I gave four examples of
that general trend to my designer, saying I
wanted to look like I belonged in their company.
Yet I also saw that on my exact topic, most of
the covers were black and gloomy, and I said I
wanted something sunnier and upbeat.
Warn your designer about any clichés
you would like the cover to stay away from. For
instance, on the topic of creativity I instructed the
designer, "No light bulbs, please!"
Finalize the title and subtitle for
your book before giving the assignment to your designer
and don't allow the designer to change their wording.
The designer's job is getting the look right, not the
text. Make sure the designer understands that the cover
must include the title, the subtitle and the author's
name, either along with an image or just making the most
graphically of the other elements.
For ebooks, which don't get picked up
and flipped through in a bookshop before purchase, it's
crucial that the main title and author's name be
readable at the small size of the thumbnails on online
bookstores. It's also essential that the design make
sense on the thumbnail, so the viewer isn't thinking,
now is that a beehive or a car transmission? If the
subtitle doesn't show up clearly at that reduced size,
When you are creating an ebook series,
plan how you are going to signify the resemblances for
the series, which could be through the same general
layout and color scheme or through a pattern of certain
visual elements that stay the same with different colors
and images. When a book shopper sees several of your
series covers and other authors' covers together on
their monitor, they should be able to recognize
instantly which books belong to the series and which
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Ask for written evidence
from your designer that any images used in
the cover were properly licensed. Some of
the biggest photo banks in the world now
have Internet search programs where they
find their unauthorized images and sue the
users. Even if it was the designer who stole
intellectual property without your knowledge
or direction, you could be financially
responsible in such a situation.
When you see what the
designer has come up with, evaluate it with
1. Does it convey the
emotional feeling this type of book should
2. Will the intended
readers understand at a glance that this is
the type of book they will want to buy and
3. Can you read the title
and author's name clearly at thumbnail size
as well as in the larger view?
4. Are there any aspects
or details on the cover that create the
wrong impression, such as an outdated
hairstyle or signage in an unfamiliar
Remember that the ultimate
test for the cover is not whether you like
it, but whether the readers you created the
book for are intrigued and get motivated to
Copyright 2013 Marcia Yudkin. All rights reserved.
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