Book covers are one of the things I spend a lot of time thinking about. All of the advice out there says you should never design your own cover, and its great advice. Even those who have graphic design skills are advised to leave cover design to others. And yet I do my own. The decision is generally a financial one. Enough cost goes into producing my books as it is without adding cover design costs on top—it’s not something I’m willing to add onto my publication budget. Okay, so if my books had nicer covers perhaps they’d sell better. My cover for Secrets Within recently scored me an equal first place in a popular vote, so I’m going to keep doing my own designs—for now, anyway. At least I have only myself to blame if it doesn’t work.
One of the ways I get ideas for covers is to search book cover images for the genre of my books. This is where I come across my biggest issue. A large number of romance suspense novels feature sexy men and women, ripped abs, etc, but I can’t put that on my covers. Not because I’m a prude, but because it would be false advertising. I don’t put sex scenes in my stories, so covers like that would be misleading to the reader. I also worry that the people on the cover may influence the reader’s imagination. I want my readers to be able to picture the characters in their own way. As my books also fall into the romantic thriller description, I tend to go with the more thriller type of cover. More representative of my books than the abs! They can still feature the couples, etc, but more of them focus on setting. Where is the book set? What is one of the pivotal scenes and where is that set? Much easier to do—until you try to find the right image! It is generally easier than trying to find the right looking person/couple in the correct pose. And when you’re an amateur like me, setting is easier to work with. Colours can be adjusted to set the right atmosphere and simple Photoshop tweaks can change things in an image that aren’t quite correct.
I’ve recently done a short course through the Australian Writer’s Centre on cover design. It was very helpful and reinforced some of the things I’d worked out for myself (and they didn’t use any of my covers as examples of ‘poor’ design – phew!). On the whole, I’m happy enough with the covers I have for now. I have no plans to change them anytime soon and will continue to enjoy putting them together.
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