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Pro Covers, Unless You Don't Like Money

BLUF: Beating a deadened drum

(This post is only for those of you making or wanting to make a living with your writing--in full or in part. All others will probably just get mad, but that's because they have different goals than those of us in this for the $$ aspect.)

Book covers.


(For those of you who don't know, the podcast is based on is all about being real with writers--which I call 'empowerment through candor.' So this is going to be one of those chats.)

I recently saw a post from someone whining about "other writers" telling them they had to have professionally done book covers. Sure, they were screaming into their echo chamber for validation, but it does nothing to help new authors.

So, in the interest of helping those of you who are serious about the business of your author career, I'm about to be real candid with you.

... because I don't want anyone learning the ropes to take advice from someone whose best-selling book is ranked 3 MILLIONTH in Amazon.

Let me tell you why you need professional covers for your books.

  • Do you want to make money at this?

  • Do you want it to be a large part of your income?

  • Maybe you want to make your entire living off your books?

Then you need to treat this like a business. And that means having professional covers and editing. (Start saving now, if necessary.) That means you will start your business (publishing books) with a negative balance on your Income reports. Uh, that's called 'business'. No start-up launches on Day 1 with tons o' cash in the bank where they can grow the business only by using profits.

"You have to spend money to make money" is a maxim for a reason.

With very few exceptions, 99.8% of us don't have the talent to make genre-specific, professional-looking covers. There are authors who can do their own covers, no doubt, but they're the exception.

Some of us can get close, but still fall short.

We all know professional book covers are important because they are the single leading reason why people click on your book to see what it's about.


There's another reason many of you might not be thinking about; a lesson I've recently learned as I've been taking things more seriously and have ramped up my launch strategy for The Zodiac series for its July release.

I have done/am doing all 'the things' to get as much of Bitter Aries, the first book, into the hands of as many readers as possible before the book goes live.

But I need to find more readers, and that means ads and newsletter features.

BUT, to get a newsletter feature, to even be eligible for a newsletter feature, where HUNDREDS of thousands of eyeballs may see my book, guess what is one of the criteria my book has to meet?

Yep, you guessed it.

Here's an example from Robin Reads's submission criteria:

"High quality, professionally done book cover."

This is the norm for these types of services. Don't believe me?

Here's BookBarbarian's criteria:

"A professionally produced novel. This means a great cover, and error free text that is well-formatted and proficiently edited."

What about the king of kings, Bookbub? One of their reasons a book is likely rejected is because:

"They say “don’t judge a book by its cover” — but let’s be honest, we all do. Readers have different expectations for covers depending on the book’s genre, and elements like the image, typeface, featured characters, and colors all impact how readers approach a book. BookBub editors know what types of covers our readers respond to, and if a book’s genre is unclear at a glance or the image does not appear professionally designed, they may be less likely to accept."

You've Got This!

Yes, I know covers are expensive. Again, consider your goals. If you're serious about publishing and your goal is to be profitable and maybe even make a living at this, you need professional covers.

If you've been watching the discussions here, you'll note that there are plenty of cover deals you can get. You just have to be looking. I recently bought the cover for Birth of a Thief (the image you see on this post) for $65. It's my reader magnet, something I give away for free to my newsletter, so I didn't want to spend $250+ on a cover for it. But I also wasn't going to treat it like a side project--since building a vibrant newsletter is critical to future sales.

So I looked at it this way:

$65 = a night out (when restaurants open again).

$65 = a month of Hulu + Netflix

$65 = about 3 weeks of your cell phone bill for a single month

Yeah, $65 for a pro cover doesn't look so bad now when I think about it in those terms.

What Are Your Priorities?

We can all do this, it basically comes down to how important finding an audience is to you.

For those of you who haven't published yet, I need you to understand this in case your defense mechanisms are kicking in: no one will care how epic your story is if it has a bad cover. They will never peek inside to see the wonderful tale you wove if that cover doesn't speak to them first.

  1. -Determine your goal for your writing.

  2. -Join book cover groups and start looking at what is out there.

  3. -Sign up for cover artists's newsletters you like.

  4. -Save, if you need to, before you need that cover.

I hope this helps negate the impact of bad advice you may have seen from others. May you all be epic.

Originally Published: May 2020

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