By Greg Chapman
Respected Australian Horror Author

There’s a saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

Sadly, this statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

Book covers are a crucial part of the publication process and authors should treat it with the same level of care and respect as editing and formatting the final story.

Thanks to digital publishers like Amazon and Smashwords, there are a lot of books out in the world, the majority of them self-published. There is nothing wrong with self-publishing a book (I’ve even done it myself), but often many of these books have poorly designed covers.

Think about it like this: if a cover looks bad, it would be a fair assumption that the reader is immediately going to wonder about the quality of the content within, am I right?

Front covers help sell a book, in the same way as a movie poster or movie trailer does. So you should always give your front cover some very careful consideration.

Put plainly, unless you have some artistic or design skill, you probably shouldn’t put the cover together yourself.

Now, by way of disclaimer, I have designed book covers for authors, publishers and my own books. I’m not out to sell you my skills with this article. What I am trying to sell however, is the need to retain that high level of quality with your book.

You have spent possibly years honing your story, so doesn’t it deserve a fantastic cover?

So again, if you plan on self-publishing but aren’t competent in design, you should consider hiring a professional to do the cover for you. Do some research; many book cover artists have galleries of their work online.

Sure, most cover artists don’t come cheap, but you are getting a design from someone who has the knowledge and skills to make the best cover possible.

Remember, you as the client have some leeway here. If you decide to use a professional, give them a full brief of what you are after. They might not have the time to read your book because of all the other jobs they have on their plate, so a few key ideas from you (the person who knows the book back-to-front) will go a long way.

Now if you are fortunate enough to have your book accepted by a publisher (congrats!) then the cover design will likely be done in-house. But again remember, most publishing contracts state that you as the author have input on the cover, so make sure you are happy with the cover before it is released.

Work hand-in-hand with the publisher to ensure the “face” of your book, captures the story within.

I’m not going to suggest any specific book cover designers or show off any bad examples here, but all I ask is that you consider your options before diving in. Check out your favourite publisher’s websites – what do their covers look like? Contact a designer with a query (we don’t bite), but most of all, take your time and get your cover looking right, because in the end, the reader most definitely WILL judge your book by its cover.

Good luck!