Transparency and Disclosure: I just launched a new service — ebook cover designs — which explains my sudden interest in doing posts on this topic. But don’t let that bother you — the info is useful and relies not an iota on my service in any way for you to put any of it to work. So onwards…
Who said your ebook cover design has to be gorgeous, eye-catching and compelling?
Oh, right, every “designer” in the free world. My bad.
But would it still be a baddie if in most cases, they all happen to be dead wrong?
Yup, wrong. Irony of ironies, although I’ve been bouncing this article topic around for what feels like months (not kidding), the timing works out where I actually end up writing it right about the time many in this part of the world has just spent more time than they’d probably like to admit watching the Oscars on TV. Talk about perfect example to help real world illustrate this point.
While the women at the Oscars each tried to outdo one another with one amazing, unique and expensive get up after another, the men in general just tried to look like they belonged, in their black tuxes. Although guys like me notice the subtle differences between the tuxes, for the most part, they were all just basically penguins. None of whom probably spent as much as the most moderate or maybe even the cheaper of the gown-bedecked ladies.
Not that the expense and effort of doing the gowns were wasteful and unnecessary — they do make quite a number of people happy, including but not limited to many of the ladies wearing and parading around in them (so happy happy joy joy to all of you!) — but here’s the million dollar observation:
To be part of that “scene,” you didn’t need to be in an expensive, one-of-a-kind gown. All you would’ve needed was a good enough tux (and decent shoes — always, decent shoes, but that’s a given).
You, in other words, simply needed to look the part.
And that, Grasshopper, is what professional ebook cover designs are really all about: your book looking the part. Yeah, it’d be great if the designs could win awards (hell yeah!). Or the designs end up being so compelling, casual browsers can’t help but throw money your way. Or…
Uh-huh. Now tell me, what are the chances of any of that actually being achieved by a visual, even if money is no object? Godawful slim. Now throw in the fact that everybody else and their mothers are trying to achieve the same freaking goals with their book cover designs… Still like your chances there, Grasshopper? Do you even want to start mucking up the probabilities even further by factoring in that old “budget” variable?
Forget about all that idealistic design BS, Grasshopper. It’s all really just about looking the part, my friend.
And looking the part is all the more important today, interestingly enough, thanks to the Kindle-stimulated Indie self-publishing revolution. As I said the other day, it’s Amateur Night at the Apollo out there. Fun, but the dark side of that development is the incredibly high rate — at least to those of us not expecting to see much of it in what is by definition the professional ranks — of, well, just plain sloppy work. Forget about the bad writing. We’ve just seen too much poor formatting. Bad editing and proofing (or absolutely no editing or proofing, period, for that matter). Careless, inconsiderate and really, totally irresponsible and inexcusable crap — I mean, really, who needs to have a formal education to know not to do that sort of thing?
Is there a consumer backlash to the mini-flood of crapola? Of course. Posts and articles abound on readers’ forums on how to detect and steer clear of self-published books. Not just the bad ones… all Indie works. And who can really blame them for not wanting to waste any time and energy on any of this, hassling with products they didn’t even ask for in the first place? (So, to all you indie authors who get all worked up and angry at the consumers and their shotguns — you’re doing it wrong, authors. Aim your vitriol at the cause of the problem.)
Now, don’t think too hard: What’s the most common “tell” Internet consumers have learned to rely upon that indicates a crappy “Indie” book?
Better, obviously, for your book’s sales potential is a bunch of glowing book reviews. But don’t make the silly mistake of forgetting this little incontrovertible fact: Book reviewers are people too. Just as influenced by your tux as the next guy… arguably, even more so, if you think about it.
Suit up folks and join the party!
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