C J R Isely
Why Aren't My Books Selling - Cover Art
I try to keep this blog diverse as I dance between reader and writer content but today, I think it's important to give a hand to those writers out there who ask me: how are you selling?
While I might feel I don't sell a lot of books, I am always astounded by the number of authors who, on hearing that I sell a few here and there, that I make a decent pocket change each month, immediately ask me how I can do that.
So - how can you get your book off of virtual shelves and into the hands of readers?
There's a lot of answers so this is going to come as a blog series rather than one blog because it's about the length of one of my novels if I try to squeeze everything into one.
This blog here will focus on one of my favorite topics: your cover.
Warning: If you're looking for free advise of free solutions, this isn't where you want to look. I am a firm believer in 'if you want to make money, you best be willing to spend it... even on a budget'
"Don't judge a book by it's cover..."
Right there is the first pitfall we all trip into. We write a book, we pour blood, sweat, tears, and a lot of imposter syndrome struggles into our work and then we decide it's time to get a cover. We hear quotes, we scream inside, we decide to make our own and think 'that's good enough!'
Spoiler alert: unless you know your way around art and trends, it's not good enough.
If your book was a house, the cover is the curb appeal. If it is sketchy, significantly different in a bad way from those houses with trimmed hedges on either side, more likely than not people will go to those nicer houses that are selling for the same amount.
So, make your cover count.
Start with research.
Go and look over the books you consider your competition. This is where I stumbled with my first book - I didn't know what I should have on the cover of mine and it is boring, quite honestly. Go and click through books that sell well in your genre, look at their fonts, the characters on the cover, the colors. Look into styles and trends. Look at their titles, even. If your title is something like "The Blue Shoes" and it's epic fantasy, you're probably going to have to twist that title to something more fitting or Amazon and other smart platforms are going to end up putting your book in the wrong place.
You did your research?
Your cover idea matches?
Your title is fantastic for your genre?
Now you can rough design it.
Please, for the love of all things, don't think that rough design is 'good enough.' You need to make this professional.
After you have that rough design, you have to have an honest conversation with yourself and ask the following questions:
a. What is my budget? Is it under $100? Over $500? How much can I spend on a cover?
b. Do I have the skill to do this myself AND be good at it? (If in doubt, don't sacrifice your years of hard work. You poured a lot into this book. Revisit the budget question.)
c. Where am I willing to find a cover artist?
I'm astounded how many people hit up a facebook group and say things like "Hey I am looking for someone who wants to design my book cover for free experience."
If they are good at art, Free Experience and Book Covers aren't the same thing. They can doodle at home. You need to pay for your cover.
This doesn't mean you have to start panicking. You can get a cover for a decent price but it won't be award winning. You don't need that to start - you can start with something that fits your genre and seems professional enough that it doesn't scream "I am an indie author who has absolutely no idea what I'm doing." We want to avoid that, remember. That's how good books get left behind.
Where to look for your cover?
Option for a budget friend cover number one: look for premade covers. See if a company with pre-made covers can help you out with something they already have. There are some fantastic companies that do this and they can be found in facebook groups and through quick google searches. Make sure it fits your book, please, for goodness sake. Don't pick the pretty cover that has nothing at all to do with your story.
Option two: custom. This is where the price can start to hike, and very quickly at that. However, over the last few years, I have been able to find decent quotes on both ends of the price scale (lowest good book cover was about $50, with the most expensive quote breaking any budget I have set before with a whopping $6,000.)
Here are a list of sites where you can find artist if you want to go with something custom (and I've ranked them from least expensive options to most.)
www.fiverr.com : You can find an artist in all budgets here. I've played with some designs from here and have been overall very happy. My three books in the William of Alamore series were originally designed on Fiverr (their new covers will start being created in late 2022.) I even had my logo (which I absolutely love) designed with Fiverr. If you aren't browsing Fiverr, you never know what you're missing out on
www.upwork.com : Like Fiverr, Upwork is a freelance site. You will work with artist around the world on Upwork but most tend to be based out of the US and, with exchange rates and such, can come in a bit more expensive overall than Fiverr does. But if you can find some artist here in your budget, it is entirely worth a look.
www.reedsy.com : Reedsy is one of my favorite author sites. If you need anything, you need to check Reedsy, because they're amazing at what they do. This is where I've got the highest price quotes to date but it is one of my absolute favorites. Editors, cover designers, marketers, they have it all. You will pay for what you get, they are talented, but if you budget isn't high than you either need to wait to release your book or look for someone closer to your budget.
You might be frowning right now and thinking "but why?" Why does it matter if the cover is made on paint or not?
Because we judge books by their covers. We all do it. We aren't going to buy a book because we saw the author spamming it on facebook posts (I am not against facebook post, I am against broad outreach without discretion. Find your audience and talk to them, do try to talk everyone into reading your book.)
You want your reader to see that cover in a lineup on Amazon or in a TARGETED facebook post (see? I told you I wasn't against it.) You want them to see that cover though, and pause. That cover is what makes them want to read your description. That cover is what they are already envisioning, perhaps, for their booktok and bookstagram post. If your cover can make someone slow their scrolling, you're going to get more sales.
Your cover and your font (all goes together, trust me) are going to make someone stop more than your description. Your cover is your product, your description is your sales pitch.
If someone doesn't want to see your product, I promise they won't stay for the pitch.
So, step one in our marketing lesson?
Go examine your book and your cover and be honest with yourself. If you are emotionally attached to your cover, find some beta readers or a facebook group to post it in and ask for honest feedback. They won't hold things back and, though it may bruise your pride that they don't seen the genius art you see, it will be better for you in the long run. Don't sacrifice sales for the sake of a poor cover. Believe me, you can fit it in your budget. If you can't? I repeat: delay the launch until you can.
Until next time, my fine authors - have a good one!