Lately I have been making myself crazy over the cover for my next book, The Seventh Pillar. One of the dictums of self-publishing, something you hear all the time, is the necessity for a good cover. But it's not just a cover: it's the KEY TO EVERYTHING, or at least that's what the gurus seem to be saying. If your cover isn't "good enough" your book is doomed to remain unnoticed, hovering somewhere around the 2,000,000 mark on Amazon, if you are lucky enough to have any number at all.
I have a wonderful cover designer for this book. Her name is Bonnie Lea Elliott and I am sure I am driving her to drink. I know I'm driving myself to drink. See, I know someone who is a really super guy who is also a genius when it comes to the publishing industry. I developed a cover with Bonnie that I thought was really good. My friend didn't like it. He gave me some very constructive criticism, some of which I cheerfully accepted. I made changes. He still didn't like it. But I like it. Bonnie likes it. Other people like it. It's a scary and powerful cover for a scary thriller. But my professional advisor doesn't like it.
The creeping shadow of self doubt has filled my soul and now I am lost...oh, wait, that's from a bad story I never finished....
Self promotion, for an Indie writer, means you wear all the hats. It's like being an entire football team on its way to the Super Bowl and then...one of your hats is a punt returner. One is a field goal kicker. It's easy to make a mistake that can cost you...what? Not the big game, but that's what the mind tells you. If the cover isn't right, no one will buy it, you will have failed.
How did we get here, with this self promo thing? I just lost almost an entire day I could have been writing, thinking about this cover. Perhaps you have had a similar experience. It's true there are a lot of bad covers out there. But I don't buy books because of their covers. Ebooks aren't like going into a bookstore. I buy an ebook because I have read other works by that author, because someone I trust recommended the book, because something appealed in the excerpt, because I liked the description. I might even buy one with a lousy cover, for the same reasons. So it isn't the cover so much as the reviews, the word of mouth and plain serendipity.
Self Promoters Of The Indie World, Unite! Throw off your chains! Throw off the shackles of conventional thinking about what works and write! The Revolution demands sacrifice of the Old Gods...
I am reminded of an Ojibway saying, which I try to remember when I feel like I'm screwing everything up, like my latest cover, because of obsessive and unrealistic thoughts about what it's supposed to do. Here's the saying:
"Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while
A great wind is bearing me across the sky."
I'm going to make myself a drink, now.