Let’s talk about making cheap covers!

1 One More DayMost indie authors are working on a budget.  Usually a very tight one.  We still want a cover that’s good enough to make sales.  I’m going to show you how to do it on the VERY cheap.

My first book, One More Day, was an experiment.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to this whole indie author thing.  I certainly didn’t want to spend a few thousand on an attempt that might go bad.  I also happen to have a whole lot of experience in marketing and advertising design.  In other words, I was pretty sure I could make a cover that would do the job.  The final version is doing well on Amazon, and One More Day is currently my best selling book.

In other words, the cover is working.

But let me tell you how it started.  THAT was not my first cover.  With a love story that is about a girl with cancer, I didn’t want a cover that would come across as sensual.  I felt that would give the reader the wrong impression.  It’s a story about hope and friendship, not jumping in the sack with a hot guy.  Hell, the main character has CERVICAL cancer.  (To quote a character in the story, “I know where the cervix is, man”) So sex was off the table from the start of the book.  Instead, I needed to push the emotions.

I started with something easy.  My first cover was decent but not great.  It had the right idea, but did little to make potential readers feel a connection.

One More DayI took a lovely stock image of a hand-drawn heart and some art supplies.  In the story, the main characters are a tattoo artist and a girl who went to college to paint, but had to drop out due to real life.  Her drawings are what brought them together, and art has a major place in this book.

Sadly, that’s not what the potential reader will KNOW when shopping.  They aren’t looking for someone drawing hearts with oil pastels.  They are looking for a story about people.  This is a romance novel afterall.

But I still had a cover that sold a few copies.  The font was free from 1001 Free Fonts.  The effects are little more than a couple of button clicks in Paint Shop Pro (like Photoshop but a lot cheaper and with less toys).  Total cost of this cover?  $80 bucks for the software – which I can use over and over to make many more covers, teasers, and such.

But, I realized that it’s not about crayons.  This story is about a girl struggling to make it one more day, then one more after that.  In other words, I needed a better cover.  So I found myself a half decent free stock image:

ASJL0UIGOR.jpg

Ha!  This one had the cup of coffee that keeps cropping up in the story.  The look on her face is perfect!  Like she’s lost in her own thoughts and nothing else matters.  The lighting draws the eye to her face, but it’s too dark.

So, let’s crop this up a bit.ASJL0UIGOR

Then color the whole thing in cervical cancer purple.

ASJL0UIGOR

Make it a bit bright and adjust the contrast around.

ASJL0UIGOR

And now we’re looking at her face.  Increase the vibrancy of the color, add in the title, layer on the author’s name (ahem, mine) and…….

1 One More Day

Eventually, I got something that made the reader want to know more.  It’s not the best cover in the world.  It’s probably going to be replaced one day, when I can figure out how to do it better, but it is a massive improvement on the stock image that I started with, and took a few hours.  It was within my budget.

I’m not trying to say that I’m the best cover designer out there, but after seeing so many crappy books being hawked on Twitter the other day, I think that showing how “easy” it can be might help.  I’m hoping that some author out there is willing to put in a little more effort, and see that it does have a huge impact.

This book, with this cover, is my best seller.  It’s in the top 1% of all books on kindle, and even seven months after release, it’s selling very nicely.  Total investment: $80 bucks for the software.  I made that, and more, in the first month.  Plus, that investment allowed me to create:

Now I have some options when talking about my book on social media.

Advertisements

The danger of reading my own books

OMD teasingI’ve been going through One More Day, looking for quotes to make teasers.  Advertising tools, basically.  This is the life of an Indie Author.  We don’t have a publishing machine to do it for us, so you’d better learn a little photoshop, 3D modeling, marketing, layout design, and so much more.

But that’s not the rant I want to have today!  No… Today I want to talk about what happens when I read a novel I wrote.  I want to write the next one!  I always think about what happens next, about where the characters end up.  In this case, my problem is a supporting character named Colby.

He’s cute, he’s quirky, he has a mouth like, well, a tattoo artist, and he’s stuck between overconfident alpha male and insecurity.  Getting used by women has a tendency to do that to a guy, I’d think.

But Colby is a great guy, under all the rough edges and ink.  He just isn’t that lucky in love, but he deserves to be.  He deserves to face his demons, beat them down, and reign victorious over his own life.  He also sounds like a character that is going to be a LOT of fun to write.

But, When We Were Dancing is at the top of my list right now.  I can’t do anything until it’s on the shelves – even though I wanna.  To pacify myself, I’m spending my time away from the computer (you know, when I can’t be writing) debating his plotline.  Now, my only question, is if he ends up with the girl he met in One More Day, or if she breaks his heart, too.  Hmm…

One More Day

The test results are back, and they say it’s cervical cancer. As if that isn’t bad enough, getting laid off from her job means Mackenzie can’t afford to pay her bills, including the medical ones! She’s convinced it’s the worst day of her life. Not even meeting that Super Hot Guy from the coffee shop can make it better.

Or can it?

Ryan has been trying to get the nerve to talk to her for months. Her art is amazing. It’s exactly the type of thing he’d like to ink onto his skin forever. For the first time, the beautiful artist wasn’t lost in her work. Nope, she was lost in something else. Something that brought tears to those gorgeous eyes. It’s the excuse he needs to finally get up the nerve and talk to her.

She needs a shoulder, and he’s more than willing to give it – plus a job that lets her use her art. Mackenzie never expected to be working in a tattoo parlor, but it will pay the bills, and being around Ryan is pretty nice. Maybe too nice. His shy smiles make her stomach flip, or that could be the chemo. It all comes back to the cancer, so why should she even try? The Super Hot Guy is her boss, and maybe this is as good as her life is going to get… because the cancer’s getting worse.

Mackenzie may want to protect him, but Ryan isn’t going to lose the girl. Not because he’s her boss, not because he’s too scared to make a move, and he’s certainly not going to let some disease screw this up. She thinks the cancer is going to win, but he has other plans. He just needs one more day to prove it, but she may not give him that option.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014RXIKRK