You’ve gotten through your short story acquisition, your editing, and your first proof is done-ish.
Now we get down to cover.
Why Your Cover is Important
Used to be, a cover could just look good on the shelf. Hell, maybe it didn’t even have to look that good on the shelf. It could even be toned down, because publishers weren’t dealing with the huge number of competitors in the market. According to Bowker, the number of books released each year went from 247,777 in 2002 to 4,134,519 in 2010. That’s a 1568% increase over a decade, from a pretty large number to begin with, to a freakishly huge number.
In just the United States.
Let’s put that whopper in perspective. As of 2010, there were approximately 311,591,917 people in the United States.
That’s approximately 1 book for every 75 people. And we’re not talking one copy of each book, because that would still be pretty significant. No, this is one print run (or ebook) for every 75 people.
And that’s just the overall population.
Just, for arguments sake, let’s put that in adult figures. There are about 228,182,000 adults in the US.
That’s 1 book for every 55 adults. I’m sure that, were we to get even more into the numbers, breaking it down further by looking at age and gender demographics, I could make this even more depressing. But I won’t, because, quite frankly, I’m getting to myself.
The Tyranny of the Thumbnail
So, your cover has to stand out. It has to memorable. Look at PULP! for instance. It”s not the prettiest book in the world, but it’s memorable. People think they’ve already seen that image before, because it’s such a Sci-Fi trope of old vs. new. But, they’ve never seen that exact design.
Furthermore, where we were just talking about the cover needing to stand out on the bookshelf, you really need to stand out on the digital shelf. Not only does it have to look good in the trim size of the print book, or fully displayed, it also needs to look cool as a 1.5 inch thumb nail, because that’s what we’re dealing with now with the likes of Amazon and B&N.com. An endless spread of 1.5 inch thumb nails, carefully tagged, bagged, and codified for each individual customer.
Tomorrow I’m going to talk about our own cover design, and give you an excerpt (sort of) from one of our short stories. It’s actually just a little bit of a teaser, but you should it enjoyable.