I have decided to try and pep up the cover to my zombie novel, Death Sense, in an effort to get more sales. Just a few days ago I was posting about how it was an intellectual zombie novel, and that’s reflected in the subdued cover, but now I’m starting to think it’s too intellectual, and the cover needs more blamo! Right now, the cover of my zombie novel doesn’t even have the word zombie on it. I decided to redesign the cover, and make sure that even though the title of the book does not contain the word zombie, it would still appear nice and big on the cover. I also went looking for advice on what makes good book covers, such as this WIRED article. The article explains that:
The path of least resistance when you’re designing a jacket is to give that particular demographic exactly what they want. It’s a mystery novel, so you just splatter it in blood, and put the shadowy trench coat guy on it, and use the right typography. Familiarity, the thinking goes, will always sell something.
After reading this, I decided my book absolutely needed a blood splash on it. My guess is that one of the most important places for a prospective reader to see my book is at the bottom of the Amazon screen, where they display the list titled “Customers who bought this item also bought”. My suspicion is supported by this Huffington post article about what you should know as an author on Amazon, which mentions this feature at number five on their list. I became even more determined to make my book cover look like a zombie book cover, even at a tiny resolution, in a list of selections at the bottom of an Amazon page.
I started with the blood splatter. It’s almost expected from a zombie novel that there will be blood splashes, and not having them is most likely a sign to a customer that the book is by an author who doesn’t understand the genre and is to be avoided. I was absolutely convinced I needed blood splashes and I needed them ASAP, but how to do it? Luckily, it turns out putting blood splashes on a cover is quite easy.
Blood splashes are in vogue, and there is a whole page dedicated to blood splashes on Photoshopgirl.com. She has collected a whole bunch of tutorials on blood spalshes and the brushes needed to create them. I don’t use Photoshop by the way; unlike Photoshopgirl, I use the much cheaper (it’s free!) open source equivalent to Photoshop called GIMP, but it uses the same brushes.
I found a Deviant Art page with some nice splatter brushes and hit download. I watched a quick video on how to install the new ABR format brushes in GIMP, and then started painting. Actually GIMP was already running, so I had to press the “refresh” button that appears to the right side of the bottom bar in the Brushes dialog before I could start, but that just took a second.
I really drenched the cover in blood, with splashes here there and everywhere, turning a cover that had been bleak and gray - classy in other words - into a tawdry and exploitative red. I added the word zombie, three times, and made sure it was even bigger than the novel’s title graphic. Then I worked on the zombies on the cover, doubling them in size so that they are very difficult to miss, especially as they are one of the few visual elements that are not now dripping in blood. You can see the result of my creative efforts at the top of the page, where the Death Sense cover can be seen in a classic before and after shot, whith the classy “before” cover on the left and the bloody “after” cover on the right.
At the moment, Death Sense has an abysmal “Amazon Best Sellers Rank” of 242,517. I will report back with updates on how the new cover is helping - or hindering - sales as the data comes in. Wish me luck, and you can help by buying this blood dropping zombie book at the followg Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Sense-Century-Z-Book-ebook/dp/B074FDCTRD/