The “Look”: a tip for self-published authors

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This post is for my self-published writer friends:

I have a new “look” and I’m very proud of it. No, I don’t mean my own look–I’m as shabby-looking as ever. But I just made new covers for my 8 backlist titles, and I must share. Here they are, along with the covers of my 2 new titles from Penguin Random House/Alibi. Those covers (A PENNY FOR THE HANGMAN and MRS. JOHN DOE) were designed by a professional artist who gave me a “look” and I decided my self-published backlist titles should fall in line with them so my “look” is fairly uniform. Behold:

Website new header (Tom's books) 6

How important is a “look”? According to all the how-to-publish-your-own-ebooks experts, it’s very important. I know from my own graphic art and commercial art classes back in college that “branding” is always a good idea for any product, including authors. Customers–in this case, readers–retain and recall the general “look” of the author’s covers, and this can be triggered in them the next time they see your work. Publishers have been using this theory for years, branding authors across all their titles. There’s no reason why authors who are now self-publishing their backlists can’t do the same.

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, my covers look nice because of my aforementioned art training. But you might want to try your hand at cover design. If so, here’s a link to the blog of sci-fi writer William King, an untrained artist who makes his own covers in PowerPoint: CLICK HERE.

Mr. King taught me everything I know about whipping up covers in PowerPoint, and my results are above. Of course, if you have an actual design program like Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, all the better. If you don’t feel up to the artistic challenge, make sure the professional artists you hire are aware that you want a uniform “look” for all your covers. If you’re like me, with a mix of new titles from a publisher and self-published old titles, go with the new publisher’s “look” as your template. It really can help in the marketplace, or so the experts claim. I’ll let you know how it works out for me.