Choosing a Good Book Cover…

Your book cover is the first and BEST impression that you will give to your reader – so you need to make certain that it is a GOOD one.

Do you want to save money on book covers?

HIRE a good cover artist.

BUY a cover premade.


Don’t get your kid brother – who is a freaking whiz at staying in between the lines of his coloring book – do “whip you off a cover”.

Don’t sit down with a Youtube video and a photo of your cat, thinking to yourself that it’s EASY.
It ain’t easy.

Don’t do ANY of these things unless you are prepared to settle for a readership that consists of your wife, your dog, your mom and your other family members.

Kizzy and book 008
(hands up out there you folks who remember the great Canadian house hippo?)

Let me give you an illustration. It’s from one of my traditionally published books – but it IS available on Kobo and it DOES illustrate my theory perfectly.
Let me show you three photos of three separate cover designs my publisher Nimbus and I came up with for my YA novel SINKING DEEPER.

It might help if I told you a little bit about the novel.

This isn’t a commercial.

It only LOOKS like a commercial.)

Sinking Deeper is the story of a young boy who decides with his grandfather to invent a sea monster. Now I know that sounds pretty prosaic – but when you throw in a jailbreak, an impromptu caber toss down a moonlit midnight street, a dory sinking, a couple of musical saw interludes along with some bagpipes and a team of gum-booted dragon dancers, a troop of Boy Scout ghosts, a treatise on stamp collecting and the attempted assassination of David Suzuki you have a better idea of the range we are dealing with in this novel.

So – this was our first idea. We wanted something that said “maritime”. We wanted something that looked a little “homemade” – like the kind of a book cover that a fourteen year old boy might actually come up with. AND – we wanted to incorporate the sea serpent that I had been signing my name with whenever I autographed any of my sea-monster related books.

Sinking Deeper (second version)

Then we worked on it a bit more and we finally came up with this version.


Which offers a little bit better balance of design and a happier shade of blue. I also really liked the way that the title seemed to actually “sinking” into the ocean.
That is the cover that we went to press with and there are still copies of this out there in bookstores across the country. However, this year Sinking Deeper made the shortlist for both the Hackmatack and the Silver Birch award – which meant we moved over 3000 copies in a single month – which isn’t too shabby for a regional press.

I told the publisher we might want to look at a cover that was a little more visual and that stood out on the bookshelf a little better.

So they came up with this version – from the talented Sydney Smith.

Sinking Deeper New Cover

That’s what we have on our e-book version right now. It will hit the print run sometime this October – just in time for Halloween.

Now THAT says sea monster.

If you set the first two versions on the bookshelf in a bookstore and stood a few a feet away all that would see is a hazy blue glare. But you set this third version on the bookshelf in a bookstore and you can stand TEN FEET away and you’ll still see a freaking sea monster.

So remember – choosing a cover is VERY important. A cover is like a handshake with a prospective reader. He sees a good cover then he might actually reach into his wallet and pull out the money to BUY that book.

And that’s a good thing.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

One response to “Choosing a Good Book Cover…

  1. Pingback: Cover me – the art of choosing the best cover for your next release | YOURS IN STORYTELLING...

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