Thank you, Karen, for inviting me to your monthly event and allowing me to share how I go about creating great book covers – information that may help your blog readers design their own covers or know what information to pass on to a designer and why.
As an author and book cover/interior layout designer, I’ve designed covers across many genres, though the process always begins the same way.
1. Gather information about the story
2. Consider elements that grab
3. Search for images that might work
4. Design the cover
One of the most important aspects of designing a cover is to truly capture the story. My “tag” is: Your Readers’ First Glimpse of What’s Inside. When an author contacts me I immediately start asking questions. There’s a whole list but the information that helps me the most:
-Do you have a synopsis/blurb?
-Do you already have a “vision” or idea in mind?
-Are there particular covers you’ve seen that you are fond of/prefer?
-Any particular point in the book that comes to mind that would make a reader say “aha!” when they read the book?
Without either sitting down to read your book or getting inside your head, I am never going to know your story as well as you do. And the reality of either of those two things happening before I design a cover are … well, one is impossible and the other is improbable. You decide which is which. Same goes for potential readers. They don’t know your story yet so your cover needs to convey what they need to become interested.
Elements That Grab
Next, think about elements that attract. With millions of books being offered at the press of a mouse button, your book needs an eye-catching cover (and notice how small they are when you first see them – hint: give your cover the postage stamp/thumbnail test to make sure it stands out little as well as big). One of the major elements often used are eyes. Why? They help convey emotion. Look at the six covers I’ve included and see what each one tells you about the stories, as well as where your eye goes first. Was it to the eye(s)? That’s why we use them. However, eyes are by no means the only attention grabbers so study other covers in your genre to see what they’re using and what you like.
Where do the images come from? The best place to get images are stock images sites. I like the user agreements and ease of use provided by the following:
Dreamstime – Free and Royalty Free for a small fee
BigStockPhoto – Royalty Free for a small fee
Stock Free Images – Offers truly FREE images
If you find an image someplace else, check for usage rights. Free and Royalty Free are not the same so don’t just grab something off the web and try to use it or you could find yourself paying hefty fines (that goes for blog posts and other internet usage as well). As a rule, you purchase the rights to use a royalty free image without having to pay each and every time you use it up to a certain number sold. That’s what it means on the sites I have listed and why I like to use them.
Also begin to look at images in different ways. Look at the Creepy Title covers shown. The one in the middle – using 100% FREE images from the Stock Free Images site – is a simple combination of the two pictures shown on the right. Would you have thought to put them together? Learn to rethink as well as considering additional elements that might be added. I took my girl and kitty images, added elements from some of the covers above, moved things around, and created something completely different. Does it work? Maybe. Maybe not. The key is not to be afraid to try.
Design a Great Cover
While I can’t teach you how to design, hopefully some of the things I do will either help you with your own design or when you seek out a designer. Regardless of who creates it, the end results should be the same:
-Arm yourself with a cover that will jump out at potential readers from the multitude of offerings.
-Provide a cover that shows the reader what they’ll find inside.
-Work for a cover you love and are proud to hold up and say “This is me! I wrote this story. Want to read it?”
If you have questions or need help, I’m never too far away from my laptop.
FreeStockImages.com images used: