Here is the proposed paperback cover for Tamsin, which is due out in January 2012. The blank white square is where the barcode will go.
As of this afternoon, the ebook edition is available via Smashwords, and the Kindle edition will be online within a few hours of my typing this. Further distribution will follow.
Scroll down to a recent post to see the ebook cover, which has the same rose on the black velvet background, with the title above that. Different format, different cover specifications - as ebooks don't have a back cover or a spine, obviously - hence the minor adaptations.
When self-publishing, a person has a choice of paying someone to design covers for them or creating covers for themselves. If you're weak on design skills the first option is probably the best. Don't underestimate the importance of how a book cover looks. Think of your own behaviour when browsing in a bookstore, whether it's online or a brick-and-mortar shop - assuming your area still has any. What attracts you to a particular book, which you've perhaps never heard of before, if not the title and the attention-catching cover? A browser picks up a book to take a closer look because some element of the cover design has interested them.
Ebook listings tend to show cover images which are the size of a postage stamp. This means that complex images are going to look like a fuzzy splodge, and arty fonts will probably be rendered illegible. So the key is to create covers which will work at this small size. They need to grab attention, and they also need to be relevant to the book's contents. No matter how great that photo of your pet rabbit might be, if your novel is about a space-age detective then you'll need a different image. The picture needs to tell a viewer what the story is about. Keep it simple, clear and to the point.
It might be advisable to take some time to scroll through ebook listings and consider which covers work and which don't, and why. Consider all aspects of the cover, including predominant colours, wording, visual mood, vital information (ie. the title, author name, blurb).
Don't ever rush the writing of blurb! Blurb might take ten seconds to read, but those deceptively simple words make or break a sale. Having taken a year or six to write your book, you surely want to sell it . If you lifted up a cookery book and the back cover read, "This is about sausages and stuff", would you buy it? Actually, given a suitably quirky context, that just might work....
The image of a rose comes from a photograph of one of the last roses of summer from my garden. I took the shot against a black velvet cloth, using natural light through my kitchen window in combination with spotlights.
I'm particularly happy with the ebook cover, and expect the ebook to outsell the paperback edition anyway. Here's hoping potential buyers like the results. Let me know what you think, hmm?