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Known Unknowns (or why do we judge books by their covers)


First attempt

First attempt

It is a dirty little secret of all categories of publishing. Indie, self, and those big evil conglomerations that rule the roost (Simon Schuster, et. al.). Cover art will make or break a book. It is unfortunate that those on the indie side have few resources at their disposal. Unless you have a relative that is somewhat adept at graphic design you might find yourself screwed. Change that. You will find yourself screwed.

There are several things that will allow an indie writer to close this gap. I work on a Mac, so I have an advantage. I have not played around with its graphic capabilities, so now I am at a disadvantage. I decided to toy around and found several free apps that might help, but after goofing around for three hours I quickly became bored with it. I was also less than impressed with my artistic abilities.

Canva seems to be the defacto website for attempting to make an ebook cover on the cheap. I did that one for FREE! It’s still kind of lame, and leaves much to be desired, but I did it quick and dirty. Just me, my iPhone, an old pocket watch, and of course a Smith and Wesson Model 19. That’s not expensive fabric in the background. Oh no. That’s an old rain jacket. Told you. Quick and dirty. I wasn’t shooting (pun) for perfection, or anywhere near it. I just wanted to try it out. The next order of business is to slap that crappy picture onto a work of fiction.

I just happened to have something I was working on. It was supposed to be a stand alone, and I think I will go back and work it as a series. It was the time shifting/illuminati/antichrist conspiracy that I floated, and scribbled on and off for a year. I am going to pop it up on Wattpad. I think I gave this advice, and my son even told me to do it. Here it is for those of you who wish to be “Beta” readers (I will find this term annoying in the near future): Damn Truckers (not for kids or Baptists, or those who are easily offended).

The problem I have with covers is how little they actually contribute to any work. If I were working with a graphic novel or comic, absolutely. A general work of fiction?

They are meant to draw you in and purchase the product. They are marketing gimmicks. A better format would be something as simple as a short summary on the front, instead of putting it on the back. With an ebook you can get away with this. One day we will get down to that format, but for now you are forced to work with cover art as a marketing device. With the decline of traditional publishing I think Amazon will set the tone for marketing in this manner. Consumers will search for literature using key words (I’m pretty sure everybody is doing that now, but it will be the only method in the future), cover art will not mean a thing at that point. Just how many matches are there for key word and search topics. If I searched for Pioneers, Gold, Guns, Liquor, Murder and three books came up matching those topics I would peruse the descriptions, not the cover art.

I would like to get involved with graphic novels and comics, but I lack something. A talent for drawing. Until a decent Mac program comes out I am going to be at an extreme disadvantage. In the meantime, I’m glad Canva is around. If you decide to use it I suggest playing around with the free stuff until you get a feel (it’s not hard, just take pictures and modify them). A decent photo editing application will help in the long run.

And the story: I decided to return to it because it is quick, and I intend to make it funny. The Wattpad version will carry most of book one. Once I finish up the first one I will put it up for free, the second book (which will be much better because the background has been established) will go for around a dollar. The third book for two bucks, and after that I don’t know. It was a plan my marketing guy (Bailey) came up with. Once up all proceeds go to the NOBO hike on the AT. I don’t expect much, but I should be able to buy a few Snickers bars.




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