Checklist for Ebooks

I was getting my daily blog fix from The Passive Guy where he displayed an article by David Farland that explains his take on book covers.

Note, the displayed cover art for The White Dragon on The Passive Guy site must be the USA version. Believe me, the UK version is much better.

I decided to visit David’s site. David Farland’s seems to have a few broken links, but if you get the home page  you can scroll to the bottom and search through the previous articles.

I decided it was a good checklist I could use before publishing my ebooks. Read the article to get the details, but I summarised with the following questions.

Hooks: Do you have enough hooks to make the reader choose your story?

Image: (Setting, Idea, Characters, Event/Genre)

Is the setting portrayed on the cover?
If western is the main character carrying a gun and wearing western clothing?
If historical is the main character wearing clothing from that era?
If murder mystery is there a bloody knife or smoking gun?
If science fiction is there either a space ship or stars or planet in background?
If one of the main characters is a dragon, is the dragon shown on the cover?
If one of the main characters is an alien, is the alien shown on the cover?
If the story is based on a volcano exploding, is the volcano shown on the cover?
If the story is an adventure, is that portrayed by the character on the cover?

Author Name:
Is the Author name displayed with clear text even if small image?

Does the title explain or hint at the story?
Is the title easy to read even if small image?
Does the title stand out from the image behind it?

Cover Quotes:
Is there any specific quotes for the story or a blanket quote listing the series number?
Does the cover quotes fade into the background?
Does the cover quote show the length of the story?
If a review, should it be on the cover or on the inside pages?
If a tag-line, do I need it to explain the story even though I have a title and image?

Does the blurb tell just enough to sound exciting?

First few pages:
Is the sample first few pages the very best writing?
No spelling mistakes?
A mix of action, dialog and description?

Rest of story:
As well written as the first few sample pages?
No spelling mistakes?
A mix of action, dialog and description?
Does every scene carry the story to the ending?
Does the story have a well thought out ending that ties up all plot actions?
Does the story leave the reader with a sense of wonder?
Does the story make the reader return for another story by the author?

I am writing a series of short stories (novelettes) and due to my best glasses frames breaking I have stopping writing for the week while waiting for new glasses to be made, so I worked on a cover for the first novelette.

I thought to cover was OK until I read the above article by David Farland.

Using the above checklist, I have an image of part of a spaceship, and a character. No stars. No robots, even though I have an android who likes to swap personality chips. No aliens. No setting other than a little ground under the wheel.

I could replace the ground with stars, but of course the human would have to wear space clothes if outside the ship in space. Or replace “A Novelette” with “A Sci-Fi Novelette” to explain the genre. Or pull right back and show the whole space ship with stars in the background and no main character.

The title and author names are clear. I need to add #1 to show this is the first in a series. I could name the series and replace #1 with Altien #1 as a series name because the aliens call themselves Altien.

I still need to write the blurb for this story and work on the rest of the stories.

Now I think I should finish all the stories in the series before I create the covers. I also think I should show the android instead of the pilot who is the main character.

Do you have a checklist? Is it similar to this one? Vastly different?


4 comments so far

  1. Angela/Curiocat on

    It is amazing what goes into creating a cover. This is a great checklist I’ll want to keep handy. Right now I’m just collecting information before I try to do my own cover.

    Thanks for sharing the information.

    • D J Mills on

      I printed out the list and stuck it to the wall behind the computer.

      I am still learning more about covers from the comments with the article on The Passive Guy’s site like using the text fields instead of displaying some things on the cover, like the length, or serial number. I personally had a complaint with my short story because the reader expected a novel and did not read the file size information, so I think it is better to add the length details to the cover, if possible, rather than let the text speak for itself.

  2. ekcarmel on

    Excellent checklist. I’m glad to see from your previous post that you’re working toward getting your books into Amazon. I imagine you’ll see a nice boost in sales through that.

    • D J Mills on

      I hope so in relation to the sales. Latest word is Amazon is testing bulk loading from Smashwords and could be the end of 2011 before they start rolling across all the books.

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