Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On Making Book Covers and Thank You

Thank you for all your wonderful comments on my previous post!  Everybody, go check out these blogs right here: Rebecca E's Living A Life of Writing, Bethanne's Romance in Writing, and Between The Lines' Between The Lines Book Reviews.  All are amazing blogs that deserve lots of love and fans.  Are you there yet?  Go!

Okay, now come back.

If somebody were to take a small pool of Indie authors from Amazon Kindle and interview them about what is most difficult in self-publishing, the conversation would probably go something like this:

Interviewer: What do you think is the most challenging aspect of self-publishing?

Indie Author 1: Finding time to write.  It's so difficult to find time to write between raising two children and working a nine to five job.

Indie Author 2: For me it's editing.  Editing through my work is time-consuming and nerve-wracking because I have so much to go through and I too have a job that I need to tend to.

Marlena: Making cover art.  I hate making cover art.  Cover art sucks.  Hate it.

You could argue that a cover is probably the most important aspect of your writing aside from your writing itself.  You can have a great book with great characters and a great plot, but if you don't have an eye-catching cover, you are sunk and will not sell a bloody thing.  This is why publishing companies have marketing teams who specialize in knowing how to create a cover that both conveys what your book is about and that can attract as many audience eyes as possible.

Take for instance, your typical romance novel cover.

Why is there a horse tooling around in the background?

It gets the point across fairly well I think.  We have the scoundrel, the captive, that crazy horse, and of course, a sexy scene to let you know that yes, there is sex in this book and that yes, you will like it.  Personally, while eye-catching, I don't like these covers because it broadcasts to the world what you're reading, and I don't really want to be scarring twelve year-old girls' eyes with Fabio's inflated pectorals.  I prefer a more subtle cover.

Here's an example of a cover that I really like.

It's a really good book, even though the sequel is bit lacking.

It's pretty direct.  You have the name of the main character, a mysterious symbol, and the name of the author, all in slightly runic font.  The white background highlights the gold coloring.  It caught my eye when I was looking through the shelves at my local bookstore, which is the exact purpose of a cover.  I didn't like the other covers so much because I didn't think the colors meshed as well as this one.

Anyway, enough of my inexpert prattle.  When it comes down to the wire, I go for black and white in my own designs.  I don't have access to Photoshop, so a gray gradient is easier for me to manipulate.  What I usually do is find a public domain picture of Manhattan and shove it into iPhoto, where I saturate the colors and then darken it a bit before switching to black and white and crop it.  Then I take a screenshot of the black and white picture and take that resulting JPG into Text Edit.  There, I write up my title and author name and do some more screen grabs until I have the finished product.

I'll do a tutorial for my next cover so you can see what I'm talking about better.  I would do a video of it, but then you'd hear me cursing out the computer, and no one wants that.


  1. Wow thank you for the shout! :)

    I agree that the cover is one of the most important parts of a book. We may all know the saying 'Never judge a book by its cover', but let's face it, we all do it! This is very interesting, and I'm looking forward to seeing how you do your covers :)

  2. No problem! Your blog totally deserves lots of love because your reviews are so awesome and well-thought out.

    And yeah, covers can make or break a book regardless of almost anything else. In my next post, I'll try to do some more comparisons between busy covers and subtle covers, and more of the like.

  3. I shall now follow you because you mentioned Garth Nix in the first post I read. Loved Sabriel, had enough love to get through both sequels. :)

    I agree about covers. I'm working with a buddy, and think I have an original cover for my first book... But it's been really hard!

  4. I got through all of them too. :) I liked the third one better than I liked the second one though.

    It *is* super hard to make a good cover. I'm glad you have somebody to help you. :)


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