This past week I popped up from my bed and said the following words: “my book covers are an inadequate representation of my content!!” I did this while waving my arms all around my head.
I have no training at all with painting, and would slap together my former erotica covers in about 15 minutes. 14 minutes of those were waiting for the background color to dry before I painted the words on top. They looked like charming yard sale signs, which I love dearly, but were like underperforming children that I realized would never graduate beyond “cute.”
Revelation #1 (for me): Book Covers Matter
Covers are a significant part of marketing, especially for eBooks. It’s not necessarily that readers need to see some lingerie in order to have a great reading experience, but they do need to see the markers that indicate “I’m shopping for an erotica and this definitely looks like an erotica.”
When I had that morning eureka, I realized that my book covers were too far away from that genre to be considered a part of it. They stood out, but too far out, confusing everybody who browsed. It seems like most of my readers were finding me through recommendations or Twitter, and not because they were browsing around for some nice taboo step-daddy erotica.
My hand painted covers might be good for a very artistic poetry collection about how the patriarchy is bringing me down. But they didn’t look as if they would get anyone off, unless they had a fetish for yard sale signs.
Revelation #2: My Audience
On that fateful morn, I also imagined that I was a woman who wanted to buy an erotic short. This was not very hard to do, because I am always a woman who wants to buy an erotic short. When I browse through covers, I make a gag noise when I see terrible photoshop. It seems like a bad cover somehow equates with poor writing, poor editing, and illogical plots.
Women who buy erotica want to see classy things. They want to see butts with sepia filters. They want to see nice font. They want to feel like they’re buying a really expensive vibrator with five speeds. It has to be classy or expensive or no one is going to lay down .99 for it.
Revelation #3: Templates!
I knew that I wouldn’t be able to afford a designed cover for all of my shorts, especially since I’m writing them at a hussle pace. That’s when I cooked up the idea of a template which I could use for shorts, short collections, and full-length pieces. I got a membership for dreamstime, which is a stock site that charges $64 a month for 10 photo credits…it has an okay selection, but finding photos of butts is hard to do for under $10 an image.
Lengthy story shortened for your comfort and ease: my designer friend from work created three shell templates for me that look incredible. Go see them. Then I was easily able to edit the stock photos with tasteful filters and drag-and-drop them into the template shell. I updated all of my catalog in only a single morning before my 10,000th side job.
(Also: If you would be interested in some erotica templates for your own covers, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will get you in touch with my designer who is WONDERFUL, I know her IRL and love her IRL)
I’m happy with the change. I know my painted covers were part of my quirky weirdness, but it’s nice to see a row of titles I would actually buy if I were browsing for erotica. If you can’t beat em, join em? I hate that I just wrote those words. But I did, so we’ll all have to deal with that fact together.