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The LONG road to publishing a novel is nearing an end. But writing a novel is actually only the beginning; editing, formatting, compiling and marketing the novel makes the initial task of writing seem easy at times. But I am the type who enjoys the creative aspect of each stage and refuse to hire 'professionals'. I like that I am forced to learn each step instead of paying experts and learning nothing other than how to pay for their knowledge.

Book cover design is a HUGE aspect in the process of marketing and some believe it may in fact be more important to sales than the actual novel it represents:

When the consumer is deciding whether or not to buy, design may be more important than the text. The consumer is subconsciously informed about the quality of the text by the appearance of the book, so the design is of critical importance. Consumers judge the book by its cover and by its interior design. For the book to grow legs and enjoy sustained sales, favorable reviews and word of mouth are important. For this, the text must be great. But we don’t reach this stage without first having a beautifully designed book. http://articles.ibpa-online.org/article/look-like-pro-collection-viewpoints-critical-yet-challenging-topic-book-design/ https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/30/book-cover-design-indies_n_3354504.html

There are plenty of posts that describe how simply changing the book cover design significantly increased the sales of a novel. And the blurb on the back cover is the second most important hook for a reader:

You pick up a book because the cover or title looks interesting. The next thing you do is read the back blurb, or if you are online, you read the first excerpt which is usually the same thing. https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2010/11/16/how-to-write-back-blurb-for-your-book/

I found one site http://ratebookcover.com, but I am not sure if it is actually legitimate. I found a group in Goodreads that looked promising, but it was only for published books and not covers in development.

So given the importance of the cover and the lack of income from most struggling writers, is there a site where authors can get opinions on their book covers without the often predatory services of many book cover designers?

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    spark.adobe.com/make/wattpad-cover-maker I found this, if you're interested... – Aspen the Artist and Author Nov 29 '17 at 18:52
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    thanks, I used to belong to Wattpad, but it seems more oriented to YA fiction and my novel is anything but. My cover is already completed (both front and back of the dust jacket), what I really wanted was input about how well it grabs the viewer and unless you are willing to pay I find nothing suitable. I considered Deviantart, but I don't see where they vote or make suggestions for book covers. – Richard Stanzak Nov 29 '17 at 22:26
  • If everything else fails, you can create a subreddit for it. But this method will depend on people joining such subreddit, so it may take long before you actually get good feedback. – FFN Nov 29 '17 at 22:47
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    I'm a Scribophile member and have seen many ask advice for their book covers. You could try to join for free and see if it let's you post. Supposedly, it should. There are many who can give you advice, even though they are not all professionals. But from what I read, the advice is good. Or you could look in Google and find a site like this: thebookdesigner.com/2017/04/… - that shows you what worked best last/this year and compare your cover with theirs. – A.T. Catmus Nov 30 '17 at 10:53
  • @RichardStanzak Oh, well, Diviantart doesn't do that sort of thing. I know... I am a fellow deviant myself. – Aspen the Artist and Author Nov 30 '17 at 16:52
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This is not particularly an answer but may be close.

The cover is indeed incredibly important. I have duplicates of a couple books, with different covers, and absolutely cringe when I see the bad cover, even though the text is identical to the other copy.

Here are some covers from the book Lolita, which has been redesigned any number of times. (Some covers in this google image search are other titles; most are Lolita.)

Lolita covers

Compare any two of them, you probably have a different response between them.

To answer your question, no, I am not aware of a website that helps with cover design. You can use your beta readers of course, and there are online critique groups (I just joined a few and writers in general look to be a helpful group.)

Here is the advice I received at a seminar - Don't try to do it yourself, it will look amateurish. Hire someone reputable. I can dig up a name I was given, if you are interested, someone in Texas. Cost is about 1200 dollars. I haven't vetted it yet.

But additionally: (Not that you asked...) There is a debate about whether or not the inclusion of people in your cover image makes a difference. There is research to suggest that this may be the case. Here is a blog post to get you started, about what specific elements may affect the buyer on the other end. I generally don't like poorly drawn people (which is often what I see, the proportions are often off) but, the well-drawn suggestion of people attracts me to titles. (Faces are the worst, so hard to get right, and maybe at odds with the reader's imagination, plus ... diversity!).

I personally find the top right image above to be the most compelling one for Lolita. No faces, but clearly a person, a child, black and white, somehow a threatening feel.

This is not really an answer, certainly not to your question, but was more than a comment. I upvoted your question because although it isn't a writing question per se, it is part of the process of getting writing into the hands of readers.

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    I don't think my design is all that bad, I also do photography and graphics and see no reason to hire a designer to design the cover of a book they haven't probably even read. But your suggestion of asking beta readers may be a good alternative as it takes far less time to give an opinion on a cover design than it does to beta read a book and offer comments. Thanks – Richard Stanzak Nov 30 '17 at 17:41
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    I think your design is probably awesome, and I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. :-) Good luck!! It's exciting, and congratulations. – DPT Nov 30 '17 at 17:48
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    I don't know. I found the cover image riveting! Of course, I avoid the stereotypical romances and love historical fiction with a focus on politics. I'm not fond of action per se (I find it mostly as stereotypical as romance), but will go after anything pre and post apocalyptic (except YA). If that's your target audience - readers of action, apocalyptic menaces and thrillers - then don't worry about gender. I believe a cover should focus on capturing people who will enjoy the theme, nothing else. I didn't much care for the font you used, though. It reminded me of some books I had in the 80s. – Sara Costa Dec 10 '18 at 2:26
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    @RichardStanzak Sara Costa left a comment just above this one that is useful for you. – DPT Dec 10 '18 at 15:01
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I'd say others do have a point about not doing everything yourself, more often than not it does comes off as having a lower quality. In terms of hiring professionals (there's no need for single quotes, if you have to use them, the person in question isn't a professional) it's more a matter of knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and how YOU value YOUR time. You may find there are better cost-benefits and ROI (Return On Investment) with a cover designed by someone in the design industry, rather than if you made the cover yourself to save a bit of money (I would recommend checking out the Book Cover Design area on Reedsy)

All that being said, I have a bit of a background in graphic/web design so I tend do as much of my own cover design as I can get away with (And I would still outsource some of my covers depending on the theme and look I'm going for).

Recently I discovered the site http://helpmechooseacover.com/ where you can get feedback on your covers. You can also source you're beta readers as others have mentioned, join cover design Facebook groups and if you have a website (which you should), push traffic toward that for feedback as well.

Hope this helps.

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