Adventures in making an E-Book Cover.

So, as anyone who reads this knows, I just released my first E-Book (actually E-Short Story) called Hot Soup, which I plan to be the first of a series of stories I release to the E-Book world. I mean, I know I can tell a good story, it’s a new storytelling frontier, and it’s free! So why not?

One of my first unexpected challenges (along with the horror that is formatting it for e-readers), however, was trying to come up with a cover for the thing. When you think of an E-Book, usually the last thing you think about is the cover, but it’s really the most important piece of marketing tool you have in your arsenal to attract reader attention. I had thought I could just whip something off and be done with it, and thus my first attempt looked like this:

Which I thought wasn’t bad (at least it didn’t look totally generic) and when I uploaded the story to the Kindle this was what I submitted as the cover. But, after I’d submitted it and thought about it for a while, I realized that if I wanted people to actually give this story a second look then something flashier was required.

So, digging out my incredibly meager artistic skills, I sat down with MS Paint and tried to put together something more evocative:

Well, I did say my skills were meager, didn’t I? It looks like art from a 1st edition D&D book, only worse!

Okay, that clearly wasn’t going to work. (And that was one of the better tries!) So I finally gave in and decided I needed to be more professional about it and sink a little cash into this project. I began to trawl the stock photo sites online like iStockphoto (not bad, but a bit pricey), Photos.com (I tried to register here TWICE but got rejected both times for an unknown system error), and finally settled on Fotalia.com which both offered a good price, and some great pictures. I was especially impressed by one photographer named Liu Xiang, and their pictures of a Chinese warrior princess.

So, after a long debate over which picture to use (I gravitated between that Chinese princess picture and one of a some Chinese soup pots boiling) I decided to follow the oldest advice in the advertising game- sex sells!

So I bought the picture, whipped it into photoshop elements, cropped it to make more room for text in the picture, and then added said text after finding a font I felt worked. This was the end result, which I have I have to say I’m quite happy with…

Quite a difference, isn’t there? I now have a Fotalia account, and will probably just go straight there whenever I need a new book cover from now on! Making a cover for ebooks isn’t hard, you just have to know when to lay down the cash and do it right.