First Impressions – An Indie Author's Lesson Learned

In April of 2015, I wrote my first blog: “It’s Never Too Late – On Becoming an Indie Author”. Almost two years have gone by since then. I’ve enjoyed the journey, and I have learned a tremendous amount. Although I’ve still got a long climb ahead of me on a very steep learning curve, I thought it might be worthwhile to share a small bit of what I’ve learned thus far.

When I self-published my first book, Second Chances, I did so with a significant amount of trepidation. Writing, like other creative outlets, requires that you expose something of yourself. It is a self-affirming process, but for those of us whose insecurities can sometimes be overwhelming, it is a terrifying leap of faith. Because of this, because I wasn’t sure if even one book would sell, I decided to keep the process as ‘revenue neutral’ as possible. Therefore, as an amateur photographer who enjoys working with Adobe Photoshop, I developed the book cover for Second Chances using one of my own photographs.

I was pleasantly surprised at the response to Second Chances. Although far (very, very far) from being a best seller, I was encouraged by the favorable reviews and comments. The primary criticism was the book cover.

When I was ready to develop a cover for the sequel, Beyond Second Chances, I decided it was also time to address the book cover issues with Second Chances. My goal was to create complimentary covers for the original story and its sequel. That decision led to my discovery of a vast array of affordable stock photographs! I had made an erroneous assumption that good quality stock photographs were expensive. They aren’t. From the various stock photography sites I reviewed, I chose Fotolia.

I spent hours searching through hundreds of beach photos searching for an evocative image that fit the mood of the book ­‑ and reflected the photographic subject interests of my main character. I was pleased with the photos I selected for both books, and when the new cover for Second Chances won 2nd place in a recent book cover contest, I felt that my choice was vindicated. Perhaps there is a professionally designed book cover in my future, but for now, I’m satisfied with the cost-effective choices I’ve made.

Lesson learned: Don’t skimp unnecessarily on the book cover. With books, as in life, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

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