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What is it about the cover of a novel that resonates with a reader enough that they’ll take the next step to see if they’re interested in the actual story? Every author wants their cover to stand out in an endless sea of books available on the internet or a book store. The path to getting there is a tough one.

As an Indie author, I have the luxury of complete control over what my cover’s look like. That’s probably a good thing, since I’ve learned that I’ve become a bit of a control freak during the whole process of launching my debut novel. But let me also tell you, self-publishing is a lot of work and the only person I can rely on to get the job done is me. Is it worth it? My answer is yes!

When the storyline for If My Heart Could See You started to pop into my head, there was really only one choice I saw for my cover. John Waterhouse’s Lamia squeals romance no matter that the story behind the actual painting is horrific. It’s Greek Mythology, so probably enough said there. Because this painting was in the public domain, I was able to use it. Typing that line was far easier than developing an actual cover that would work. I am a writer, not a cover designer, and trying to fumble my way around Photoshop was exhausting to the point that I threw up my hands in frustration numerous times. No matter how many instances I yelled “I’m giving up and chucking the whole idea,” I continued coming back to try again. Apparently, I was on a mission.

This wasn’t just about slapping my name, title and tagline onto the cover and calling it good. This was about making it look professional. I also had to do some editing to remove the snake skin the knight was stepping on. It was also wrapped around the heroine’s leg and bottom of the picture. In the amount of time it took me to finally get it good enough that I was happy with it, I could have written at least three more books. I swore I’d never do another cover again and leave it to the professionals. Now, I’m trying to design the back of my next release. I knew I’d eat those words.

Was it worth it? You tell me. I still remember waking up that Saturday morning in July just two days after my paperback was released. Prior to that, the eBook was bringing in a few sales that totaled maybe fifty. I thought, “How nice is that? All my friends and family are buying my eBook.” Reaching for my phone that morning, I opened the sales dashboard and rubbed my eyes. I must have refreshed that page at least three times before putting on my glasses thinking something was broken at Amazon. But no…I had 70 sales and it was only 8:00 in the morning! I ended that day with 137 Kindle downloads that put me #3 on Amazon’s top ten bestseller list among several others. Oh happy days!

Perhaps my patience and persistence paid off after all. There’s only one reason I believe my book hit those bestseller charts in the first place. I blame it all on my cover. Three to five seconds…that’s it. It’s all the time an author has to grab a reader’s attention enough that they’ll click on your tiny thumbnail on their computer or walk across that bookstore and grab your book. You had better make that cover a good one.

This article originally appeared on the blog of author Nancy Lee Badger on October 24, 2014. If you would like to read the full blog, please visit http://nancyleebadger.blogspot.com/2014/10/its-all-about-cover-by-sherry-ewing.html