'Never design the cover of your own book'. Yet another rule from the writing world I have broken.
A couple of days ago I was asked how authors came up with their cover designs. Most authors don’t design their own covers, leaving it to those with design knowledge and skills. It would be nice to hand over the design of my covers to a professional, but I have a limited budget, and if I’m being honest, doing my own covers is another way I can keep control. I’ve seen sample covers for books that do nothing but show the designer has no real clue as to what the book is about. The last thing I want to do is have a never ending to-and-fro with a designer who can’t quite get the cover how I want it, and then end up settling for something that’s not quite right.
There are websites that offer pre-designed covers, but generally these are only for Ebooks. If you want a cover for a print edition as well, then its something that has to be negotiated with the designer. Not a bad idea, but I haven’t found any covers that come close to what I want for any of my books.
I’m the first to admit my initial cover attempt for Roses was a complete failure. It took me a while to settle on the current design and I have made it so all the subsequent books in the series will have a similar look. The central image and the title will be the only changes I make for each one.
That design works for the White Rose books, but my next book is not part of the series, so I have to come up with a different cover for it.
So how will I do that?
Things to think about:
What format will the book be published in?
All of my books are published in both Ebook and print format. Ebooks only require the front cover, but a print book also needs a spine and back cover.
Who will I be publishing through?
I use Amazon Kindle and Smashwords to publish my Ebooks. Both companies have detailed information as to the size of the cover file, and the kind of things that will get your design rejected (yes, they can reject them). Fonts, images, and resolution all have the potential to cause problems.
My print books are done through IngramSpark who send out an template designed to suit your book size. Again, their file requirements are specific, but they send digital samples for checking so errors can be corrected before printing.
The main theme of the story
I find my blurb is the best place to determine this. It’s contains the essential part of the story, and if my cover and blurb relate to each other, then I know I’m on the right track.
The genre of the book
One of the best places I’ve found for inspiration for my covers is on the internet. I search for books in my genre (romantic thriller) and see what others have on their covers to get an idea of the feel I’m looking for.
Don’t promise what the book won’t deliver
If there are flames on the cover then there had better be fire of some kind in the book! You won’t see half naked couples on my covers because that’s not what my books are about.
Things to do
Look far and wide for images, and look again, and again
The perfect image can be easy to find sometimes, but for my next book it’s been hard to find an image that says what I want it to say. I’ve had lots of positive feedback for the image on Retribution, and it works well with the story. My favourite site for images is iStock, run by Getty. There are lots of sites that offer a vast array of images, but I tread VERY carefully. Image usage licenses are very specific, so I double check I can use each image for what I want before I buy them.
Hubby! Can you turn on your laptop, please?
I publish my print books through IngramSpark, and they obliging email me a template to use when designing the cover of my print editions. The template is set up for InDesign, and this is where I thank my lucky stars my husband is not only artistic, but conversant with enough software to put my covers together. For my Ebooks, he uses Photoshop. Oh, and he also uses a lot of patience (Hmm, can you move it up a bit? No, back down again…Umm, I’m not sure…).
I ask my beta readers what they think of my cover mock-ups as they have read the book and know the story. And yes, I get the feedback before I actually buy the images. I trust their judgement, but ultimately it’s up to me what the final covers look like.
I’m not convinced that readers judge a book by its cover, but it certainly affects whether they pick it up to read the blurb (or click on the link).
A good cover is vital and it can be done without hiring a professional designer, though it’s not easy. Like everything else when you publish independently, how an author arrives at the final cover is as individual as the authors themselves. I’m comfortable with producing my own designs, so I will keep doing so for each book I publish.
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