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Opinion: Indie Book Covers Are On The Up

Opinion: Indie Book Covers are On The Up

Photo of Rebecca Lang

Australian indie author Rebecca Lang

Rebecca Lang, Australian indie author of fiction and non-fiction, shares her excitement at the growing professionalism of the covers of self-published books.

I just read the latest ALLi Member Showcase and wanted to share some feedback…

Can I just say all of these amazing book covers I'm seeing are exciting the socks off me! That good covers are becoming the norm, rather than the exception to the rule, is truly heartening.

When I first started self-publishing, good covers were few and far between. I really feel the balance has now tipped tremendously in favour of indies, and this demonstrates a high level of professionalism. I'm so pleased to be part of such a focused and inspiring group of people.

I confess I have an artistic streak. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming to be any good – I just have a need for self-expression that occasionally goes beyond the printed word.

In my past life I designed newspapers and magazines, and frequently created the kind of symmetry and modular layouts that helped make reading a daily joy for readers. These are the sort of design skills no one ever notices, because they take it for granted that papers or magazines have always been easy to read.

What does this have to do with self-publishing?

Nearing the completion of my first self-published book, I decided to have a stab at designing the book’s cover. I had seen some covers that I really liked and set my mind to replicating a couple of them – an eye-catching tabloid-style of cover with block colours, arresting images, and a darker more academic effort.

If it was any good, I reasoned, I would have saved myself some money and added an extra string to my bow (writer, editor AND book designer!).

As it was, it really wasn’t very good at all – but at the time I thought it was Magnificent! Genius! A Work of Art!

That was until I showed a graphic designer friend Tim Hartridge who politely considered it. He never said ‘Oh sweet Jesus, this is an abomination!’, but he did design something much, much better.

Cover of The Tasmanian TigerOf course, it is possible to design your cover (it might even rock – or not). Creating your own cover can occasionally help a graphic designer with their brief. But, honestly, graphic designers always do it much, much better!

Paying for the services of a good graphic designer is part and parcel of investing in yourself, and getting your readers to invest some time in getting to know your writing.

Self-publishing is coming of age in more ways than one. Feel free to judge books by their covers. Those who are seriously committed to publishing excellence are leading the way with professional products that rival their traditionally published peers.

Well played, self-publishers, well played.

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EASY TWEET Why you should judge the latest generation of indie books by their covers by @rebecca_lang via @IndieAuthorALLi: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/covers/

Author: Rebecca Lang

Rebecca Lang lives and works in Sydney, Australia. She is a former journalist and newspaper editor, an incurable life-long storyteller and a Fortean. She is the author of the eerie short story "Army Dreamers" and co-author of "Australian Big Cats: An Unnatural History of Panthers". Her website is www.rebeccalangauthor.com.


This Post Has 7 Comments
  1. I am a book reviewer and freelance editor and the blogging community has been fussing about indie/self pub covers since the beginning. Authors didn’t believe us when we would tell them “covers sell books” they come back with”No, a good story sells books” well, you can’t sell a book if no one picks it up and covers make readers take that closer look.

    A bunch of bloggers and I put together a free cover feedback group on FB where authors can show their cover in private and get honest feedback about it. We’ve helped quite a few authors avoid cover shaming .

    1. Good on you Sharon, that sounds like a brilliant Facebook group. You’ll have to share the address or name with us so we can check it out. Constructive criticism is always sought and welcomed by independently published authors.

  2. You are so right about book covers. It used to be you could tell what was self-pubbed and what wasn’t just from the covers.

    Now all we need to do is get them all to use an editor, and we’ll have it made.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Yes Kathryn, editing is another big part of the puzzle. Happily I can attest many more are using editors – something I know firsthand as a book editor myself. Writing books used to be seen as quite a romantic profession where you could lock yourself in a garret to write The Next Big Thing or The Great Novel. In reality it’s very much a business, and if you want to be successful, marketing and quality play a big role.

  3. […] I was one of the feature guest bloggers over the holiday period for the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) on its excellent and widely read Self Publishing Advice blog on the subject of book covers. […]

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