Cover Your Self Published Book
It's your book's billboard
Books are judged by their covers. Publishers of hard cover trade books estimate that, in a book store, they have thirty seconds or less to attract a buyer with a well designed cover. My hunch is that it may be even less time. The cover of your self-published book is critical to your sales.
There are some things your self-published cover must have, including:
You Need A Book Cover Designer
Although I suggest you can design an ebook cover yourself, I think it would be a huge mistake to do it yourself for a self-published paperback or hardbound book. The whole process of reproduction is hugely different. Printing on paper requires an exactness of design that designing for display on a computer screen simply doesn't.
Besides, a good book cover designer will help you create the cover that will appeal to your audience. To get a feel for what I'm talking about just wander into your favorite large book store. This time your sole purpose is to simply see what catches your eye, regardless of category.
In fact, to maximize your understanding, go to a book store you don't know well. You'll find you are drawn to certain colors and certain type faces and in some cases, to illustrations. If you take a friend along, chances are she'll be drawn to something quite different.
After you've gotten a sense of how book cover design impacts you, go ahead and do the same thing in the area of the store you'd like you're book to appear in.
With these things in mind, start looking for your book cover designer.
Finding Your Book Cover Designer
Some POD publishers also offer cover design. Be careful here. You don't want your cover to simply be a slightly altered template, you want something specifically designed for your book. When you talk with other authors who have used the POD publisher you're considering, ask them to tell you about their experience with cover design.
If you decide to hire an outside book cover designer, the best way to locate one is to ask others who have had covers designed for them. You may know some folks on your own. You can also ask in writing forums, including ours. A search for book cover designers on Google brings up literally millions of entries. Many of them show samples on the web. Use those samples to narrow your search, but demand actual books or book cover samples before you finalize your decision.
A good book designer will want to read at least part of your book, and spend some time talking with you about the book and its audience. (Yes, this can happen by email.) They will then provide four to six rough designs to help you choose the look you want. These initial designs will probably be in .pdf format, but that's not a requirement. The conversation between you and the designer as you work with these samples will result in the final design.
At that point, you'll have to provide the back of jacket copy, the ISBN, etc. You'll get a final proof - be extra careful with this... once you give your okay, that's what you've got without spending a ton of extra money to get it corrected. It's worth taking extra time and getting several people to proof for you.
Once you've approved everything, the cover designer will provide your publisher the cover art in the proper format.
Your book's cover is its billboard. It's a huge sales tool. Take your time. While you don't have to spend a fortune, you'll have better results if you don't do the cover on the cheap.