Contributed by Author @JessieHarrell
Is that fair? Not really.
Is it reality? Absolutely.
So my advice to you is to INVEST IN YOURSELF. I know it’s an expense, but your cover will be the single biggest piece of marketing/advertising you will do for your book. The cover will speak on your behalf when you’re not there to promote your work (i.e., the vast majority of the time).
To be a proper ad, your cover needs to accomplish several things. It needs to set the tone of your novel. You don’t want a dark and broody cover if your story is happy chic lit. Your cover also needs to be consistent with others of the same genre. We all know generally what the cover for an International crime thriller is going to look like. If you use that cover style on your middle grade novel, you’ll miss your intended audience (and probably initially attract readers who then won’t make it past the back cover copy).
You also need to consider if you’re going to use stock photography or art. If you do, there’s a good chance someone else will have a very similar-looking cover as you some day. This happens to the “big boys” too. Case in point:
To avoid this problem, I recommend scouring DeviantArt.com or other creative websites for images that you love and then asking the artist if you can purchase rights to use the photo. You’ll never know until you ask and you might find that it doesn’t cost much more than stock photography.
Finally, I recommend that before you get started on designing your cover, that you spend some time browsing other covers in your genre and identifying the ones that you like best. Find ones that have the right color scheme, the right character focus (e.g., do you like ones will silhouettes in the distance or extreme close ups of a face?), and convey the sense of the story you are trying to sell. Once you’ve pinpointed your style, picking your own art and design will be that much easier.
If you’re in the market for a top notch cover designer, here are some folks who come highly recommended:
VLC Productions (Vania Stoyanova) – www.vlcphoto.net
PhatPuppy -- phatpuppyart.com
Dale Pease – walkingstickbooks.com
And my own designer, Josh Longiaru – jlongiaru.carbonmade.com