Writing Wednesdays: Why you need a book cover when you publish your story online

We're all guilty of judging books by their cover, and in this post I talk about why it's so important to create a cover when you publish online.

This mostly applies to those of you trying to self-publish and publish online, but I’ll also explain a little how cover design works in traditional publishing. Basically, this post will explain why you need a good cover (when you self-publish) and how to make one, since I often get questions (mostly from Wattpad users) about this.

So in traditional publishing, you literally do not have to do anything to make your cover.

There are people employed by the publishing house whose job it is to make covers for your books. 

They will ask for your input – maybe you have a specific idea of what the cover should look like, and when they’ve made the cover it’ll be sent to you and you can give them some feedback (maybe it’s not at all what you want, or maybe you like it except you think the title might look better in a different colour font?)

For more on how traditional publishing works, you might like to read this Writing Wednesday post.

If you’re posting your book online, there are plenty of free sites that you can use to make a cover for your book. 

I know Wattpad had this really cool thing where they let you make a cover within the site (I’m not sure if it’s still there, though, I haven’t made a cover in a while). You can also use things like PowerPoint – there’s nothing wrong with having a cover that’s all typography - and Fotor and Canva. There are plenty of free image-editing sites online, and free stock images you can use.

You might also like this post on free writing tools you should be using.

If you aren’t sure what kind of cover your book should have, obviously you can check out similar books to the one you’re writing to try and figure out what kind of angle you should go for, or if there’s a common sort of colour scheme.

And it might seem stupid to make a cover if you feel your graphics skills suck, but trust me – 

Even if it’s a bit of a rubbish cover, it will at least look like you take your story seriously and that you’ve put in the effort, which is a good impression. After all, not all of us are great at making covers! Your readers will understand, but still appreciate that you tried.

Also, on platforms like Wattpad, you can usually find users who aren’t writers but enjoy making book covers. 

These people won’t (in the vast majority of cases) charge, they’ll just do it for the recognition – maybe ask you to just mention in your story description who made the cover. Hunt around for these users and ask if they wouldn’t mind making you a cover.

If you’re self-publishing, you can also hire people to make a cover for you. 

I don’t know how much that sort of thing typically costs, but if you’re really not confident in your own cover-making skills, and want a good cover, this is an option for you.

What do you think about making a cover for your book when you publish online? Are there any awesome tools you use or tips you have to share? Drop them in the comments below!

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