I’m excited to be collaborating with graphic artist (and childhood friend) Stephenie Hoover on cover art for some of my work. A few months ago I sent out an email query to several friends that I knew were into graphic art, asking if anyone could be interested in working with a writer to develop cover art and other hybrid creative projects. Stephanie responded, and a few weeks later she had the first pass of a cover for my short story Remembering Turinam ready. I really like how she made Grandfather’s farm real in the near-ground, with the imagery of the Turinam valley, the Khem river, and the Dorhal mountain range forming a grand backdrop in in the distance. I’ll be honest — it’s not actually how I imagined the scene as the writer. And I think that’s a great thing.
Once of the great things about collaborative creative endeavors is that each person’s perspective and interpretation on the subject can blend together into a unified whole that others see. Stephanie took what she saw in her mind’s eye when she read my story and made it “real”, made it something more than an abstraction, in a way that as a writer I would not be able to do. Certainly, most of us visualize something when we read, and the cover art is the starting point for the reader — it’s the visual gateway into the world of the story, the starting point for how the reader will imagine the characters and their context.
And aside from the more artistic reasons, a good cover has a very real effect on sales. From all the advice and research I’ve absorbed over the last few months, I’ve been absolutely convinced of two non-negotiables for indie publishing: cough up for a professional editor, and get a good cover artist. Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, has this to say in his ebook The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success:
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a great ebook cover is worth 100,000 words.
Your cover is the first impression you make on a prospective reader. It’s the visual embodiment of everything your book represents. Great covers, through their imagery alone, can communicate genre, topic, mood and setting. A great cover image makes a promise to the reader. It helps them recognize your book as one they’ll enjoy reading.
At a glance, the reader will gain an instant sense for whether or not you’re a professional.
Even after the reader has purchased a book, a good cover adds to the reader’s enjoyment. Customers might click on the cover image to view it full-screen so they can enjoy the artistry, and to add deeper meaning to the book as they read it.
He goes into a lot more depth, with data from ebook sales to show how important a good cover is to sales.The upshot: good cover art is not an add-on to a well-selling book. Its an essential part of the package.
Coupled with some great new cover art, an ebook of my first professional sale short story Remembering Turinam is now available for FREE download from Smashwords. The story will be available for free via other distributors, including Apple, B&N, and Kobo, by the end of the week.
If you like the story, please review it and share with friends!
I’m working on getting my other published short story, The Parched Lands, up on Smashwords as well.
Remembering Turinam was our first foray… I’m looking forward to a more in depth collaboration with Stephanie on the cover for my upcoming novel, Red Soil Through Our Fingers, a Hard-SF look at a near future solar system dominated by for-profit corporations. The novel is also a plea for well-funded, forward-thinking public policy in space to ensure that humanity’s expansion into the next frontier is an equitable one. More on that later!