Cover Art – Or Lack Thereof

Iron Tavern Press LogoIron Tavern Press has two products out in the world now, with more Pocket-Sized Encounters on their way. One decision that is now obvious to the public is that I chose to go the no cover art route with these products. This was not a decision made lightly and this post looks at what went into this decision for Iron Tavern Press.

The primary factor is of course cost. Artists deserve to be paid for their talents. But with the somewhat steady release cycle I have in mind for the launch of Iron Tavern Press, my up front expenses to put a unique cover on each product was a very real cost that I might not see return on until the venture gets it feet under it.

These funds seemed better spent to me by putting it into editing services, the tools to publish a clean product, and interior art that spruced up the product. With the release schedule I had in mind this is the decision path I leaned towards to get Iron Tavern Press established.

The other factor is the quality of that art. Given a limited budget there is a question of what quality of art would be on the cover if I went that route. I did some mock-ups a few months ago with some images. Frankly, they had a more amateurish look to them than the minimalistic covers I have launched with. Just as great cover art can help a product, bad cover art can hurt a product.

The decision is not without its risks. Who doesn’t love cool cover art? I see it all the time – a cool cover gets posted to a social network, it gets shared around and that is all based on the appearance of the cover. Very little is said about the actual content of the product. Cool cover art definitely can help with exposure and generate some excitement about a product.

My feedback from the mock-ups I sent out was mixed. Some encouraged using cover art and others understood why I would make the decision to launch products with no cover art. Even those that encouraged the use of cover art acknowledged the cover mock-up was very clean and looked well done. It at the very least gave a professional appearance, even if it did lack cover art.

In the end I chose the clean, minimalistic covers for the Pocket-Sized Encounters line. I am happy with the choice and it has allowed me to use quality interior art (some stock art, some commissioned pieces) and hire an RPG editor to make sure the words in the product are the best they can be.

All of Iron Tavern Press’ products are currently on sale as part of the GM’s Day Sales going on at the beginning of March. This is a great opportunity to check them out (cover art or not!) at either or RPGNow.