I was skimming kindleboards last night and came across a cover thread. In that thread one author stated something to the effect that he (I don’t know if the poster was male or female, I’m just going to save myself some time and say male) felt strongly that authors should design their own covers. For him, it was part of the creative process and important to feeling like the book was entirely his own. He knew the cover wasn’t professional, but it gave him great satisfaction to do it himself. If he had allowed someone else to do his cover, he would not have felt his work to be original.
I have some sad, sad news for you buddy. It ain’t about you. It’s about the people you want to buy your book. Your cover needs to appeal to THEM. And they really don’t give a rat’s ass if you did your cover yourself. And if you did that cover and it’s not professional? Well I hope you don’t want to actually make much money from your creative effort, because people are going to think “amateur cover = amateur writing, not worth my while or my money.”
I know that sounds really harsh. But I think it’s an important take home for authors. In the end, your cover isn’t about you, it’s about marketing. Absolutely you want your cover to give readers an idea of your story. You want it to reflect genre accurately, and hopefully give a hint or flavor of what is inside. It’s worth considering that perhaps your personal artistic taste or skillset with Word or Powerpoint may not end up with a result that showcases and sells your true skill; writing a compelling work. And if you don’t understand design and art, it’s really best to leave it to someone who does.
In the end, the cover decisions are yours. However, if you smartly hire a designer and he or she makes suggestions or hesitates over some of your ideas, LISTEN TO THEM. Consider their opinions very carefully. You don’t have to bow to the designer’s wishes in every aspect. But once you have hired an experienced designer, please trust them to know how to do their job. Realize that design is a serious field of study with a very complex and ever shifting set of rules and guidelines. Your input is wanted and needed, but a good designer will try to steer you toward a result that is really best for your book, even if it doesn’t match your personal taste or compromises or changes some of your ideas.
Because your cover is not about you. It’s about the people you want to sell to. Never forget that.