Monday, August 27, 2012

Romance Novel Book Covers Mystery Solved!

Good Evening Lovelies,

Let me preface this post by stating self-publishing your own book is HARD. I have major respect for all writers who have taken this route. When you're a first time author whose chosen this path you take on more than the role of writer, you become your agent, your publicist, your editor and your cover designer all rolled into one frazzled, scared  and determined package. When I first made the decision to self publish I spent hours reading blogs, articles and books about how best to go about it. There were three main rules that seemed to be consistant through out all of my sources:

1.) Write a story that you think is awesome (kind of obvious, I know).
2.) Publish your book to as many sources possible. 
3.) Make your book physically stand out.

Today I want to focus on rule number three. In a perfect world you would hope that your work stands by itself. That the story you worked so hard to get out to the masses is so good that the moment you publish people flock to the net and download copies of it in multiple formats and languages just so that they can tell their grandchildren they got a copy the first day your amazing story was released.... Hmm anyway, the most amazing story in the world will never get read if no one sees it to buy! We unfortunately, are human (most of us anyway), and as humans we are drawn to shining objects and other attractive sites. That is where book cover art comes in. Cover art is the beer bikini models of the book industry. They provide the enticement for readers to stop their scrolling and pause to take a second look, and after writing that amazing world impacting book you don't want a wallflower in a one piece you want a Victoria Secret model striking a "come get me" pose!

This is actually the main reason why I chose to go with a professional cover artist for my first book (the ever lovely Ravven). I wanted my cover to represent not only my book but stand out among the crowd of other books in its genre as well. Admittedly I could have perused the millions of stock photos available on the web and worked up a basic cover myself for free (or close to free), but why spend all that time when you can pay someone who is a professional and actually knows what their doing? Not to mention you're getting a customized cover that is wholly unique. This leads me to an interesting phenomenon I've noticed amongst e-book covers.
For a while I've wondered why so many self-published and professionally published e-books have very similar book covers and by similar I mean EXACTLY the same. Seriously, it's particularly noticeable within multicultural and interracial titles. The same cover models are being used in the same poses across multiple books by different authors. At first I honestly thought that it was one designer peddling the same image off on multiple unsuspecting authors. However, after a while I noticed that  the same covers were showing up at popular websites who shall remain nameless (trust me you'll know them when you see them), and thought maybe it's just these sites. Maybe their design departments are so swamped with work from so many awesome authors that they're recycling covers to increase productivity and bring more reading material to the hungry masses (yeah every now and then my Pollyanna comes out to play). However, today I learned the truth behind these doppelganger covers! It was my DUH! moment of the week. The culprit is! 

I found the website randomly through a Google link maze while searching for something else entirely (you know how it is). Anyway, when I entered the site, there was almost every cover I've seen ciculating the romance lists lately. Now let me be perfectly blunt, I don't see anything wrong with using stock photos. As  a self-published writer you need to utilize all of the resources at your disposal. However, I do think that if you're going to use stock images, go the extra mile and actually layer elements on the images to make them unique. There are a two really great applications (GIMP and Paint.Net) that can be used for this and they are completely free. 

I know some people will read this post and accuse me of being a snooty newbie, but seriously e-book self-publishers have to compete against all of the agented authors and their established publishing companies that can provide them with dedicated design and promotion teams. Self-publishers have to work doubly hard to compete against that type of professional competition. I'm still very new to this industry so I may change my mind about this later, but I seriously doubt it. What are your thoughts?

Talk to you soon,

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