FrustrationA friend of mine went on a rant last week on fb … in the nicest possible way.  She questioned why some self-pubbed authors insist on doing their own book covers.  The comments came in that perhaps some of her expectations were too high; that some authors think they can do their own covers; and/or they just plain cannot afford to hire a professional to create their covers. Now, my friend (naming no names) is a professional in the field of marketing books and has years of experience, so I give her question a lot of weight, as I do the responses she received.  All of these arguments can be valid.

But … (there’s always a “but”) would you be turned off by a cover that looked like something the author’s six year old drew?  Perhaps one that doesn’t reflect the actual book?  Or, my personal favorite, a cover that uses those computer generated “posers” that I’ve griped about in the past?

Now, I’ve seen some really nicely done self-pubbed books.  Edie Ramer’s come to mind.  However, Edie also has a professional do her covers and they’re gorgeous.  She also hires someone else to do her editing.  I’ve come across several self-pubbed books where the editing was atrocious and I ended up (figuratively speaking) wall-banging ‘em.  They were on my Nook and it wouldn’t do to wreck my e-reader.

The point is, I was totally turned off by what I viewed as amateurish work and its doubtful that I will purchase any future books by that particular author.  Perhaps I’m spoiled by the books that I’ve purchased from traditional publishers, but I’ve come to expect a certain quality for the money that I’m willing to shell out.  Not when there are so many books out there that will meet my expectations.

I’m well aware of the fact that it costs money to produce a self-pubbed book.  Personally, I haven’t gone that route yet, but that’s not to say that I won’t in the future.  If I do, I know that I’ll make the effort to produce the best possible book I can.  I’m fortunate where I have a day job and will be able to afford professional editing and to hire someone to create a beautiful cover.

What do you think?  Do you reckon my expectations are too high, and I should be above the pettiness of appearance and just enjoy a good story?

About Liz Kreger

Liz Kreger writes science fiction/romances and to date, has two books published by Samhain Publishing ... FORGET ABOUT TOMORROW and PROMISE FOR TOMORROW. Liz is presently branching out to contemporary paranormals and is experimenting with urban fantasy.
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16 Responses to Professionalism

  1. Willa says:

    I have seen those covers – and yes, some of them are truly awful – and for some the cover is the very first impression you get of a book and it does make me wonder about the quality of the content. I admit to be a cover ho and choosing my fave cover to have on my ebooks using Calibre ie U.S v U.K publication.

    Sometimes when shopping I scroll down a list of books and can pick out the self published just from the standard of the covers . . .

    Of course one person’s ‘Yuk’ might not bother someone else who doesn’t notice covers but if you are putting your hard work out there, I believe you stand a better chance of achieving your goal if the outside makes a really good impression.

    And if you hit the big time – those awful covers will come back to haunt you 😛

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Totally agree with you, Willa … ’bout a bad cover coming back to haunt you. I remember a cover put out by a small press … oh, years ago. It was so horrid that I remember it to this day. Did I buy the book? Nope.

      I’m also with you that the cover will make the first impression on me with regard to the quality of the book. I suspect this is true for a lot of people.

  2. Edie Ramer says:

    I have seen some, but I’ve seen a lot of awful covers by traditional publishers. And I’ve read a lot of wall-banging books by authors who are traditionally published. A friend was furious at her editor who didn’t even edit her book; just published as she submitted it. And this was one of the top 5 or 6 publishers. (I forget what the number is now.)

    Thanks for the shout out about my books. 🙂 I’ve got to say that even with an editor, I count on you, Michelle and Dale to look at my books and find content problems and little errors that are missed. And even with all that, and with editors who read it twice, I still find mistakes on a last read.

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Oh, I definitely agree that even the traditional publishers can put out junky covers. It annoys me to no end when they use the same basic cover for several books … just changing the style/hair color/whatever of the main characters. I mean, c’mon, with this age of computers, the stock photos out there are nearly endless. Let’s get creative.

      Plus, there’s the whole “the author has little say in the cover” when it comes to traditional publishers. Yes and no. I had a lot of say in my covers with Samhain Publishing. All depends on the company, I guess.

  3. Liz,

    Everything Edie said I agree. I do the same and always find some thing all the editors, readers and me have missed. Writing can always be improved.

    The lowest reader review I ever got was not about my novel but the fact that the digital version being read wasn’t complete. This was from my traditional publisher and I had nothing to do with that. And since many other readers of digital versions never mentioned getting only half a book, I suspect the downloading process got corrupted in some manner.

    Good post.
    Casey Clifford`s last blog was …Canadian Goose Fly-in Diner

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Oooo, that would be nasty, Casey … getting half a book. That would be annoying, but I certainly wouldn’t blame the author. It was obviously an error on the publisher’s part, and one I hope they were easily able to correct.

  4. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Liz,

    At the risk of setting myself up for a good trashing, my son and I do all my covers! lol. Personally I love them, but that is because they are also my babies 🙂

    I know the covers will improve as we improve, but there’s no way I can possibly afford to get the covers done professionally. And I have seen some truly awful – professional covers!

    Like Edie said, there’s room for improvement everywhere!
    Dale Mayer`s last blog was …So…

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Now, I wouldn’t have guessed that you do your own covers, Dale. They’re well done and look professional. I have no problem with authors doing their own work … if they’re able to make it look professional. Obviously you and your son are devoting a lot of time and effort into getting it right.

  5. Misty Evans says:

    Interesting post, Liz. My sister-in-law recently sent me a link to a site that listed bad book covers. Some were truly awful. Seems with everything, whether traditional or indie, there’s a wide range of the good, bad and ugly. Overall, I like most of my covers, all done by professionals, but I have a book with a traditional publisher that I don’t like. It looks nothing like I asked for and even the cover artist wasn’t happy about the 13 – yes, 13 – changes the publisher made to get it the way the marketing committee wanted it to look. Not even the font fits the genre of the book and I couldn’t get anyone to change it. The editor told me to be happy because at least it had a hot guy on it (translation = sex sells). But it doesn’t sell well at all, even with great reviews, so I blame the awful cover! LOL.

    • Liz Kreger says:

      That’s the other side of the coin, Misty. When the author is given absolutely no input into the design of the cover. The “Marketing Squad” is the expert at such things. Pity you can’t wave that particular incident in their faces and let ’em know it was their failure to accurately guage the market which no doubt caused bad sales.

  6. Amy R says:

    Most of the time I can\’t tell if a book is self-published or not unless it is from an author that I know well (or I specifically look for it). When I was reading Misty\’s book I never knew which of her books were self-pubbed or not. The only covers that come to mind that I think are pretty cheesy are some of the Harlequin covers that are all part of the same Harlequin line. I know it is branding or a marketing thing to have them all the same, but I really hate that they all look the same (sorry, Cynthia!). For the Harlequin Intrigue covers so many of them have a guy looking up and away with his mouth almost always open a little like in shock and on the run. Sometimes he is holding a girl close, sometimes not. Those covers look a little amaetur to me and they actually look dated. I actually hadn\’t read any of the Harlequin Intrigue books because of the covers. At least not until Cynthia\’s when I knew the story would be good. There are some awesome covers out there though!
    Amy R`s last blog was …Been blogging for a month. What have I learned?

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Excellent point, Amy, and I agree. The Harlequin covers are way too predictable, and frankly, boring. (Same here … sorry Cynthia. I know you have a line with Harlequin Intrigue)

      However, I think that’s a comfort thing. I imagine die-hard Harlequin readers would get up in arms if they changed the layout.

  7. blodeuedd says:

    To be honest..yes, if it looks like crap then I am likely not to give it a chance. You can make a nice cover without having your 6 year old draw it. I will rather read a book with a blank cover than one that looks badly photoshopped
    blodeuedd`s last blog was …Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Forsaken by the Others by Jess Haines

    • Liz Kreger says:

      😉 Heh … thanx for that concise comment, Blodeuedd. Hell, I’d even go with those flowers that they were doing for awhile and I thought those were completely cheesy.

  8. CateS says:

    Good writing and editing can overcome a bad cover… I have a Kindle.. and usually I don’t even get a cover … which I hugely miss because there have been some really beautiful ones.. I cannot speak to what shows on a Nook or Paperwhite.

    • Liz Kreger says:

      I can get the cover on the Nook, Cate, but its usually very small. I like having the cover, though. I sometimes have a difficult time remembering if I’d purchased a book before, and the cover will often remind me one way or the other.

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