Guest Post- Designing Book Covers that Sell

Hi everyone! Kari Anders from freeebookcovers.com wanted to share her insight on designing book covers. If you are writing a book, I would keep her in mind. Her covers are wonderful. If you haven’t, it is worth the time checking out her website.

Designing Your Own Book Cover: Elements of a Cover that Sells

As an indie author, you’ve probably read about the differences between traditional publishing, self-publishing, and hybrid publishing. Some of you may have chosen to self-publish for the advantages it brings over traditional publishing: higher royalties, creative control, faster time to market, global rights retention, and more. Or you may have chosen to self-publish after rounds of unsuccessful queries. Either way, all indie authors need to understand the Elements of a Cover that Sells before finalizing their design and clicking that sweet button on Amazon that allows you to say, I am an author.

I’ve often heard traditionally published authors complain they have little to no say in cover photography or design. Authors begin to imagine what their cover looks like as they are writing their story. They feel they know their story best and therefore have the knowledge needed to design a great cover. Unfortunately, they link those two thoughts incorrectly. Knowing a story well is usually a fault when it comes to creating a cover, which is why traditional publishing houses usually keep authors far away from cover design.

Why? This is a problem best described through the cliché: it’s hard to see the forest through the trees. When authors are asked what their book is about, they often have a hard time answering. Their book is about so many things. They try to describe the main storyline, the subplots, the theme, the lesson, the story arc, the relationships between the characters, the character’s backstory, how the family got their dog, why they moved to San Francisco, all without giving away the ending. Has a friend ever asked you what your book is about? How hard was it to simplify your work into just a sentence or two?

Most authors are sentimental about their book, and rightfully so. They want the cover to do it justice. But they forget that the cover is packaging. It is intended to sell the product. It’s not intended to be the product. So, what sells a book? Does the cover need to intrigue readers? Does it need to have colors that pop against a white background? Does the text need to have high contrast? Maybe these are concerns if you are Stephen King or Nora Roberts. But if you are reading this, you are likely not already a New York Times Best Seller, and therefore, these details are secondary. You are trying to get your book read by readers looking through hundreds of thousands of titles in a similar price range in a world where a new book is published on Amazon every five minutes. The truth is, your cover needs to do one thing: give your story away.

The market landscape in books has been changing for a while now. Readers are left to choose from such a wide variety of books, and they usually spend just seconds on a cover or description to determine if they are going to buy it. This doesn’t mean you need to be intriguing or stand out from the crowd. It means quite the opposite. Creating mystery around your book by using a unique cover confuses readers; they don’t know what you are trying to communicate. Instead of being intrigued and ready to know more, they are ready to move on.

Catching readers’ attention starts with a good description. You want to set the scene very quickly and give as much away as you can while asking as few questions as possible. If your book asks five new questions every time it answers one, this keeps the reader turning pages! If you cover or description does that, it turns your potential readers off.

When you go to write your description, think about the Who, What, When, Where and Why. Who is the narrator? What is the biggest event that happens in the story? Is your book set in WWII? You readers need to know this. These are only some of the questions you need to ask yourself to write a good blurb. You don’t need to tell the entire story to catch a reader’s attention, but you need to make sure you lay out a clear introduction. You also need to make sure you give a few things away: is your book a love story, does it contain magic or is it considered sci-fi? Does your main character experience abuse, trauma or loss? Not everyone wants to read a book about murder or fairies. And that is okay; your audience is not everyone.

I was talking to a newbie author who was publishing her first book, a memoir about being raped at the hands of her ex-boyfriend. She didn’t want her description to give away that it was a book about rape, with the fear that this would turn off readers. She was convinced that if they were drawn into her book from the beginning, they would be so intrigued by her story, the content of the book would no longer matter. This is a common thread among new authors who were not traditionally readers of that genre before they began writing. Remember this if you remember nothing else: Readers are finicky. If you trick them into reading your book, they will remember and not in a positive way. It creates a breeding ground for poor reviews. Make sure they know what they are getting themselves into. Trust that there is an audience for your book. A broad description doesn’t reach a wider audience; instead, it stops you from finding yours.

So how do you write a good description? I can usually tell by the first few chapters what the book’s description should say. By then, I’m developing ideas about the cover image and the mood of the cover. Let me give you an example of a bad blurb versus a good one.

Bad Description: Meet Jenna Lucas, a young twenty-something fashion designer who seems to have life figured out. One day, a letter from a lawyer reveals an inheritance that Jenna wasn’t expecting. In a leap of faith, Jenna goes on an adventure of a lifetime in a last ditch effort to find out what this inheritance is really about. During the trip, she meets Pete, a quirky old man that won’t leave Jenna alone. Is he as crazy as everyone makes him out to be, or is he the key to uncovering the secret about Jenna’s family that’s been hiding for so long?

 

One

 

If you read the first description and look at the cover, it’s hard to paint a picture. You are given information that may or may not be relevant, and every sentence brings up a question without answering any. It’s not the specifics of the cover that are the concern, but the title, cover, and description do not work together to sell potential readers anything.

Good Description: Jenna Lucas was never really close with her aunt, Lauri. The day of her mom’s funeral was the last time Lauri came to visit; effectively separating herself from anything that reminded her of her sister. But when Lauri passes away, Jenna inherits a ticket on the Royal Maritime, a ship that circles the Arctic in an exuberant display of the Northern Lights that only shows itself once every nine years. But the trip was planned for Lauri, and during the cruise everybody Jenna meets was expecting someone else. Join Jenna on the trip of a lifetime, a last chance at knowing her aunt, and discovering the real reason why she left so many years ago.

 

One

In the second description, we are given where the story takes place, what is happening during the book, the reason behind the story, and the important characters. It sets the reader up for really knowing what they are getting into, and in turn pulls them into the story. There is a little bit of mystery to the end, essentially offering up stakes for the reader (if you don’t read this book, you’ll never find out why Jenna’s aunt left!). And you can even picture Jenna on the cruise, hearing stories from the different passengers, and piecing together information about her family. But most importantly, the cover, description and title all work together to paint this single picture.

Here is a good test: If you read the cover of a book and you can’t describe it in once sentence, you are in trouble. How would I describe the second book? A woman inherits a ticket on a cruise ship, meets some interesting people and finds out more about her family along the way. I wouldn’t even know where to begin on the first one.

If you are designing your cover yourself, have a friend read the first three chapters and then tell you what they think your book’s about. Use this information to write a strong, descriptive blurb that really paints a picture of the story, and use that picture to create a cover. From there, your title should pop out. These three pieces should work together to sell your potential readers a single story. If you are hiring a book cover artist, make sure you write your description first and let the artist work to create a cover that fits.

BIO:
Kari Anders is a book cover designer who works mostly with self-published authors and small publishing houses. She worked in freelance design for six years before attending graduate school, and now teaches design and runs freeebookcovers.com. All of Kari’s covers are designed as CreateSpace Wraps for only $75, with the eBook version included for free. Her site specializes in Pre-Made Book Covers, but she also does interior design and custom covers.

June/July Writing Contests

Originally posted on Rachel Poli: June 2016 Type: Nonfiction (Theme: Blended Families) Hosted by: Chicken Soup for the Soul Deadline: June 30, 2016 Entry Fee: None Type: Nonfiction (Theme: Curvy and Confident) Hosted by: Chicken Soup for the Soul Deadline: June 30, 2016 Entry Fee: None Type: Nonfiction (Theme: Stories about Teachers and Teaching) Hosted…

via June/July 2016 Writing Contests — Writer’s Treasure Chest

Throwback Thursday- The Keepers (Alchemy #1)

throwback

This is something new I am going to try where every Thursday I am going to talk about a book I have read in the past.

I am always on the hunt for a new addictive UF/PNR series that I can’t seem to put down. I don’t find them often but when I do, I think its fun to share.

    

Title: The Keepers (Alchemy, #1)
Author: Donna Augustine
Published: April 13, 2013
Pages: 290

Synopsis:
Two days ago, Jo Davids was a waitress by night and a college kid by day, with the unnerving problem of things floating around her.

One day ago, Jo’s sexy boss, Cormac, noticed her for all the wrong reasons when she witnessed a man transform into a monster in the basement of his casino.

Today, Cormac ordered her shot. If he’s real lucky, she won’t die. Because if she does, all hope is lost.

Why I love this book and Series:
I read this book two years ago and at the time my reviews were less than a paragraph. Not very descriptive.. But what I remember, I really like. The main character Jo is broken and has a difficult life. Grown up in one foster home after another leaves her without friends or a family to call her own. Add to this the fact she is able to make strange things happen.. she lives a pretty secluded life.

When Jo starts her new job at a casino she meet the mouth watering Cormac. To say things don’t start off on a positive note is an understatement. Cormac is one of those characters who pulls off a sexy and fun mix of bad boy who isn’t a complete ass. I won’t give away any juicy details, but there are parts in this book where you can’t turn the page fast enough and you are unable to believe what just happened.

The world building was steady and good. But really, it’s the sexual tension that becomes addicting in this book. Pair that with a sarcastic and funny dialog and the series became one of my favorites.

On Amazon right now,The Keepers (The Alchemy Series Book 1) -the first book in this series – is only $.99 Not much of a gamble if you are on the fence about reading this book. I promise it is worth the dollar 🙂 You can get the The Keepers Box Set (Alchemy Series) Books 1-4 for $6.99. Something to think about.

Quotes:

“We’ve all got skeletons, but I’m afraid you might have a whole god damn cemetery. I’m going to go through with your plan, mostly because I don’t know if we have a choice. What really bothers me though, is that my gut feeling tells me that as much as I sense the fight in you, I’m not so sure you’d run away from death. Making plans with someone like you is dangerous.”

“He smelled too good, he looked too good and it was just completely unfair. Villains were supposed to be ugly. Just another way I was getting screwed in this deal. My villain didn’t even look like he was supposed to.”

“Desperate people should be placated until you can get as far away from them as humanly possible, because desperate people had a bad tendency of blowing up and taking you with them.”

 

I hope you check it out!

 

Amber Smoke (The Escaped #1)

Author: Kristin Cast
Published: June 9, 2015
Pages: 275

Stars: 3 out of 5

Synopsis:
There is a world that runs parallel to our own, a world in which the souls of the damned are caged, where they are looked over by the Furies, and where they spend eternity in torment, mirroring the devastation and mayhem they created when alive.

Someone has opened the cage.

The worst of terrors has crossed the barrier that separates our world from theirs, and the Furies send a great, albeit untested warrior—their only son, Alek—to try to bring those souls back. He is young and handsome, headstrong and impulsive, and he won’t be able to do it alone.

Eva has grown up, beautiful and beloved, but surrounded by secrets. First, she will be hunted in an ancient feud that will threaten her life. Then, she will become the hunter.

With the police closing in and two worlds on the verge of crumbling around them, Alek and Eva must find each other, discover the limits of their powers, and work together to save everything they hold dear, including one another. Blending elements of mythology with the dazzling storytelling that her fans have devoured through the House of Night series, Kristin Cast weaves a spellbinding and passionate tale that starts a thrilling new series with an explosive charge.

Review:

The story starts off with the tail of Maiden, Mother, and Crone in the underworld. The prologue spins a tail of forbidden love and the curse to follow. A curse that sends the underworlds protective walls crashing down and a need for a warrior to bring those who escaped back down. Alek, being that warrior, is young and naïve to the human world.  He is slightly cocky but also full of self doubt. The way he perceives the world is at times awkward but mostly strange and he just seems out of place.

Eva is a smart young woman with a good head on her shoulders. But there are things she does in this book that are completely reckless and sometimes irritating. For someone who is educated and smart, she sure has a difficult time making common sense decisions and taking life threatening situations seriously. For most of the book, I really enjoyed her character. I liked how she was shy when it comes to her crush and how sweet and nice she was.

The author does a fantastic job describing what a serial killer/stalker would be like. Everything from the calm in his voice to the violent mood swings, it all sucks you into the story. And when it comes to describing the demon within him, talk about nightmare material. Especially the ending, that was a little disturbing. If you are one of those readers with a vivid imagination, picturing the plot unfold in detail in your head, then there are scenes in this book that are high in the creepy sense.

This book is told through multiple perspectives. It took me a while to figure out why the author introduced Detective James. In fact, it took mostly the book to understand why his point of view was needed or what it added. And to be honest, I’m not 100% sure I understand his role. The author uses the detectives working Eva’s kidnapping case to create havoc and stress. Their jump of viewing Eva as a victim to her being the primary suspect isn’t realistic and doesn’t make much sense.

The story line goes from dragging at times to an intense scene that is either disturbing, frightening, or bizarre. The author ends the book on a cliff hanger and not much is really solved but you are left with wanting more. The writing is well done and the description is great.

One thing I noticed was how the synopsis doesn’t really align with the book. I didn’t catch onto the secrets Eva was surrounded by. Maybe someone could point those out for me?? And she doesn’t really become the Hunter. Yes, Alek help her become reborn but she doesn’t go hunting demons. Again, maybe I missed something here?? And I didn’t really notice how they discovered their limits to their powers. This, added with some unrealistic plot lines and the slightly slow moving pace, made this book a three star instead of five. I am interested to see where the author is taking this series and will be wanting to read the next book.

If this book interests you, click on the link- Amber Smoke: The Escaped – Book One (The Escaped Series) – for more information.

 

 

Running- Training Week 7

Running

Tuesday: 4 Mile Run

This was a difficult run. I started off way too fast. I tried running with Lifetime Running group today and it was enjoyable. A hard run but a fun group. I think next time I need to slow down and focus on my pace instead of trying to keep up. Lesson learned 🙂


Wednesday: 3 Mile Run

I don’t think this is my week for running. My legs felt like led and I couldn’t get into the run. I am sore from yesterdays run and probably should have taken today off. But it’s done and it’s three more miles under my belt. Surprisingly, my pace was still good- average around 10:07


Friday: 6 Mile Run

This was a great run. The weather was perfect with a cooling breeze. All but the last half mile or so was in zone two.

I love running with these two women! I look forward to our long runs each week!!


Sunday: 6 Mile run

Today was the day of the turtles! I stopped a couple times to take pictures but they were out in force this morning.

My run today was a mental struggle but I’m really glad I did it. It felt great even though the sun was really HOT!! But like I said, I stopped a couple times to take pictures. So I think that helped.

 

Total Milage: 19

Upcoming Releases June 2016

It’s a sad day when I look through all the books that are coming out and can’t fine one to get excited about…

sad face

Am I missing something? Or might this just be a slow month for reading?

What books are you looking forward to that are released this month? Or do you find yourself in a similar boat as me and can’t find a book that interests you?

Disclaimer

The blog BoundToBeMe is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to [insert the applicable site name amazon.com.

In other words..

I am an affiliate with Amazon.com Associates Program which basically means if you click on one of my links, it will take you to an amazon.com page. If you happen to buy anything from Amazon within 24 hours of me posting this link, then I will earn a small commission.

Anything I make will go directly back into this blog, most likely in the form of buying more books.

But I want to make it very clear that all my reviews are my opinion and mine only. I am not going to fluff up a review just to make a small commission. I promise I will always be honest with you.

 

May Highlights

May

Running:

My goal for the month of May was to get 6-7 hours of sleep each night and drink the recommended amount of water. I did great getting 6-7 hours of sleep but not so much on the water. I feel like the sleep helped with my running and overall feeling better. But I need to start incorporating weights or some type of cross training into my workouts. So my goal for the month of June is to do at least one day a week of cross training.

I did buy myself Garmin Forerunner 225 running watch for my birthday. And I absolutely love it!! If you are in the market for a running watch, I would check out Amazon. I bought mine at a discounted price and it works amazing. My full review is to come in the next week or so but check them out. This watch is amazing!!

 

I absolutely love this bra. If you have a hard time finding running bras, I recommend this- Moving Comfort Women’s Juno Bra! You can find my review here. In the next week, I will have had this Sports Bra for a month and I have no complaints. It is still a little difficult to get on but I am used to it now and it takes half the time it did when I first started using it.

 

 

Total milage: 57

Books I’ve Read:

Feb reading

I read a lot of two star books this month. One of my favorite books came out this month was Good Girl. I did the review a while back but you can find it here. Check out the review, I know you will love it. The books is full of strong characters with sassy banter. You can buy it on Amazon for $3.99.  Good Girl (Love Unexpectedly)

My Favorite book this month was My Perfect Mistake. I really do love strong female characters with sassy personalities. And this book has it!! This is definitely a series to keep your eye on. It’s funny, sexy, and at times heartbreaking. I loved the emotions each character went through and the real life problems they had to overcome.

 

 

Draw really disappointed me. In a way this book is about starting over and second chances. And I liked what the author did with Millie’s character. But the book got to the point that I skimmed most of it because I couldn’t stomach what was happening or I was bored. I’m not sure I could recommend this book to anyone.

If you missed my other reviews, here is a list of books I read this month:

Manhandled (Hammered #2)
His to Protect (Fireside, #2)
The Way of the Runner
Brave Enough (Tall, Dark, and Dangerous #3)
The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave #2)
The Sway (Classified #1)

Fun and Interesting Posts:

I Reached 100 Followers!! Again, I want to thank everyone for following my blog. I never thought I would get to this point but I am over the moon that I did!

May is Celiac Awareness Month. I actually wrote two posts about this. The posts were a bit outside of my norm, so I don’t think very many of you looked at them. But if you wanted to know more about what Celiacs is, you can find that here. Or if you want to see the kind of diet I have to stick to, you can read more about that here.

And lets not forget this post- Jurassic Park to my Front Yard. I still can’t believe how bad my front yard actually was. And I am not being dramatic, I have pictures to prove it!!