Hey, look! Those covers don’t suck!

“If you want something done right, you need to do it yourself,” goes the old saying. Unfortunately, it’s not always true.

Take the cover of my debut novel, State of Grace, for example. I designed it myself, and, frankly, it sucks.

A bad book cover.

A bad book cover.

I’ve known for some time it was a bad cover and that I needed to do something about it. But knowing something and really understanding how important it is are two different things.

Everything I’ve read indicates a bad cover will kill sales of your book. It’s not that I didn’t believe it. I did. And I knew I had a bad cover. I just didn’t truly believe (or perhaps realize) how bad it was. Nor did I understand how effective a bad cover is at killing sales.

Then I ran a free event for State of Grace through the KDP Select program on Amazon.com. In two days, I got a meager 449 downloads in the U.S., and 22 in the U.K. Three days prior, the companion book in the series, Red Dragon Five (which has a superior cover), garnered more than three times that many downloads — a number I thought was disappointing. Given that I’d advertised both books in the same circles there was only one logical explanation: sucky covers kill sales, even when the price is free.

Fortunately, I had largely handed over cover design to someone who knows what she’s doing a few books back. So I went to her and said, “We need to fix this.”

By “we” I meant “you.”

Because it was clear I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I can make all sorts of excuses for why, but it doesn’t matter. The cover sucked, and it was killing sales.

I told her to blow the whole thing up. We’d based the other two Wolf Dasher covers (which are vastly better) on the template from the first. I told her to just start over, and we’ll modify the other covers to complete a branded look. But let’s start with something that will make people want to buy the first book.

So here’s what she came up with:

SoG Cover Mk III 2As you can see, they are a lot more dynamic and attention-drawing than the feeble cover I did. As my darling wife put it, “It looks like a book now.”

And she’s right. With a new template in place, it was a simple matter to update the other covers.

The new version of State of Grace is live on Amazon.com now. “The Darkline Protocol” should be up this afternoon, and Red Dragon Five should be up some time tomorrow.

I don’t expect sales to leap through the roof now that the books have new covers. That requires marketing. But at least my sucky design work won’t be turning buyers off anymore.

So lesson learned: If you want something done right, hire someone who knows what she’s doing. That way at least, you won’t be standing in your own way.

Here’s the other two covers:

TDP Cover Mk IIRD5 Cover Mk II


2 thoughts on “Hey, look! Those covers don’t suck!

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