Covers are important – in more ways than one

posted in: On writing | 2

I used to haunt bookshops. I loved them, aiming invariably for the fantasy and science fiction aisles and maybe the crime aisles. Oh, and the cookbooks. And anything else that took my fancy. I’d pick up anything that attracted my interest and read the blurb, then maybe a few pages before I decided whether to spend my hard-earned readies on that particular book.

How did I decide whether to pick up a book and look more closely?

The first thing was often the author’s name. If I’d read their work before and enjoyed it, I’d certainly look for other titles. Terry Pratchett (may he rest in piece) was an auto-buy for me. Another factor might be that I’d seen an ad that looked interesting, or had a book recommended. Those aside, I’d look at covers.

My process for buying an e-book is no different. Except that maybe the cover is even more important. In a bookshop most of the books are arranged spine out because there isn’t room to do anything else. In an e-book store, it’s covers all the way. The covers have to attract the right sort of readers and tell a little story in their own right. For example, if you’re looking at Romance books in any sub-genre, images displaying a heap of ripped abs and powerful pecs are likely to be at least steamy. If that’s not your reading taste, move on. That’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Fifty Shades of Grey et al didn’t have steamy covers but if you didn’t know that was what you were buying, you must have just lifted that rock off your head.

But this post isn’t about what elements you should use in your covers, it’s more about how they’re portrayed. I’ve recently discovered a website called Covervault. The owner has created some great free templates that people familiar with Photoshop CC can use to create 3D book cover images and posters. I’ve had a wonderful time messing about with them, pretending it was ‘work’.

3D images are very important for boxed sets because they show the customer what they’ll get for their money.

Here’s an example. The 2D version tells you you’ll get three stories – but the 3D version shows you and gives the names. It’s a classic example of ‘show don’t tell’.


When I publish my books I deal direct with Amazon, but distribute to Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks through Draft to Digital (D2D). After I’d created my nifty 3D boxed set covers I loaded them up to Amazon and D2D. A day later I got a message from D2D saying that Apple would not accept a 3D cover. Frankly, I thought that was crazy. Amazon was happy with the 3D version. I wrote to D2D asking if the other stores would not accept a 3D cover, and if there was a way of submitting both versions of a cover.

D2D offers great support. I received a response that only Apple will not use 3D covers. I was asked to provide 2D versions for the boxed sets which D2D would manually switch for the listing at iBooks. That’s great customer service and a large raspberry for Apple. You’d think they’d be interested in giving their customers the best information available.

Here are some of the posters I’ve created. I hope they tell you a bit more about the books, which is, of course, the idea. If you’d like to know more, click on the poster.

2 Responses

    • Greta

      A pleasure, Ed. Note it only works with PS CC, not Elements. There are a couple of video tutorials on the site.


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