Friday, November 16, 2012

Indie Thoughts by Aneesa Price


Beyond the Book Cover
Indie Thoughts by Aneesa Price

There are very few people who would dispute that a book cover is what a book is first judged by. A book cover is supposed to give a pictorial view of the wonderful delights contained within the book. Its sole purpose is to entice readers to want to know more about it. 

After I completed my manuscripts, I began researching what the best approach is to creating a book cover. I read books on the topic by other indie authors, spent hours on Google and many more looking at others’ book covers. As an indie writer you have two options - do it yourself or pay someone to do it for you. Given the importance of the book cover, many writers opt to have someone design one for them. 

I had to do my book covers myself as I could not afford to pay cover designers. And to be frank, I thought, if Hp Mallory did her own book covers (and I read in her book on self-publishing that she initially did), then surely I could too. I mean, she’s creative, isn’t she? And therein lay my first incorrect assumption. 

Hp Mallory had some technological skills with regards to photoshop and she has a marketing background. I don’t have either. I don’t even have photoshop loaded onto my laptop and can’t afford to purchase it anyway. To eventually finish creating my own covers took me ages to accomplish but I did do it nonetheless. It just wasn’t as easy as it sounded when I read Hp’s book. 

Many of the books you read on self-publishing suggest that there are many free images available on the intranet. And they are correct. However, unless you have some serious technical or graphic manipulation skills, you’ll hit a brick wall like I did. The reality is that many of the images you ‘Google’ are copyrighted and you cannot legally claim them as your own. After finding that every image that ‘spoke’ to me was not a legally feasible option, I began a general Google search for image suppliers and was pleasantly surprised when I saw that there were many sites that offer free images. Unfortunately, the images I liked were not the free ones and this meant that I could add the purchase of a stock image as one of my unforeseen expenses.  So, make sure you budget to either purchase a cover from a designer or to purchase an image. 

I made some mistakes though that cost me money. Firstly, I purchased a vector image. Vector images are lovely, colorful and often quirky. Unfortunately, their format is not compatible with many self-publishing websites, rendering them useless as book covers. Secondly, I bought an image that was absolutely perfect for a future installment in The Coffin Girls Series. Regrettably, I’ve since seen the same picture on another indie author’s book cover and as she’s quite a prominent author and no one wants their book to look like a duplicate of another, that was yet another waste of money. 

So, now I had the manuscript, the picture for the cover and I needed to put the cover together. This is where I bow down to the many indie authors who are technologically savvy. I found a free photo manipulation software program called paintnet courtesy of the mention in the smashwords style guide. Paintnet is purported to be a free replacement for photoshop and having never used photoshop before, I’d have to take their word for it. I am most grateful, however, that it is free. Looking at my covers, you’d think that it took me a couple of minutes to finalize them. Well, no, it took me a good few hours per cover. And even then, once I received feedback on font colors and sizes, word placement and so forth, I had to go back and play around some more before I was happy with the changes. As na├»ve as it seems, I did not expect that it would be that tricky or time-consuming and if I had the money, I certainly would pay someone to do it for me instead. 

Creating a cover, I found was a journey unto itself, however, once created, it becomes a powerful promotional weapon in your arsenal so my advice - like it, lump it and do the time because it’s worth it. I now have book covers that I’m exceptionally proud of and that look oh so stunning on my books’ swag.
Yours in romance and reading,
Aneesa Price
(Author of Coffin Girls and Finding Promise)


About the Author

Aneesa Price writes romance and lives it with her university sweetheart and husband. After having surmounted the challenges of being in a bi-racial marriage in the newly democratic South Africa, she now attributes her marital bliss to purposefully added spice and passionately resolved differences. After living in a variety of cities in South Africa, the cosmopolitan city of Johannesburg is the playground that she enjoys with her husband and two daughters. She writes to give her readers the gift of experiencing the new and fascinating, something she strives for herself when she explores new places, reads, cooks with her kids or goes picking for antiques with her husband. She welcomes new connections so feel free to 'friend' her on facebook or follow her on twitter.