Cover Your Art With Cover-Art

As a reader, I’m sure you know that the cover of a book is important. If you’re a writer who isn’t also a reader, maybe you should re-evaluate your career as a writer, chefs don’t cook food without first eating it. Being a reader is a big part of being a writer, unless your writing a memoir or non-fiction, in which case you could probably slide by without reading much because your plot is already built in. Anyways, tangent aside the cover of your book is important, especially for a new author. It’s what grabs a readers attention, makes them pick up a book when perusing the shelves; anything that makes it stand out as special is good. I know I always pick up a book that has sprayed edges, it makes it different and exciting. For an author who doesn’t have established name recognition, the cover can be the difference between success and not-success (it’s not failure, just a setback). So in today’s post I’m going to go over the three basic ways of getting a winning cover for your book: get published by a company who does it for you (the Big 5), hire an expert (if self-publishing), or create your own cover.

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Companies

The way to go, if you have a choice

I’m pretty sure almost everyone in the world has at least heard of Harry Potter, whether they’ve read the books or watched the movies or just heard the crazy fans everywhere talking about it. Given this popularity, it’s no wonder that publishers are wiling to put the time and money into constantly releasing new versions and sets of the series, there are so many collectable covers for the Harry Potter series that not even the most avid fan could justify buying every single one. Just check out a few of my favorites below:

Notice how the red and orange Order of the Phoenix book has a castle designed into the fiery wings? Yea, that’s cover art at it’s finest. And that’s cover art that exists because of the resources available to the publishing company. I know that Harry Potter might not be the best example, it would have collectors editions at this point even if it was self published, but I’m just trying to get across the seemingly limitless resources and man power available to publishing companies like the Big 5 that you just won’t have access to as a self-published writer. I know that it can be hard to get published by a company and that waiting for your moment to shine can be frustrating, I understand the draw of self-publishing and it’s benefits, I’m just saying keep the door open, because these companies know what they’re doing.

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Hire a Professional

The next best thing if you’re going to self publish

I’m not going to give you detailed directions on how to hire someone to do your cover art, but I will tell you why you should strongly consider it and point you in the right direction to get started. A professional cover designer will better understand the intricacies and art of making a book cover; they will know what the right balance between image, text and information is and have experience wielding more advanced software’s. If you pick a cover designer well, they will have experience in and an understanding of the technical aspects involved in designing and creating a cover that will actually work, and work for you, in a much better way than you could given the same amount of time.

Finding A Cover Designer

Simply google searching freelance cover designer will get you a lot of results, but only a small handful of those results will likely be legitimate designers with years of experience. When picking your cover designer make sure to find one with a great portfolio that you like and can groove to, someone who’s on the same level or in the same headspace as you, but who also has a good track record of creating covers in YOUR genre. A good cover designer will be well versed in the trends and tropes common to your genre and what your target audience is looking for.

Cost

I didn’t do extensive research here, and only cross checked two websites which both had similar information. Take these prices as ballpark, just a vague idea of what this might cost you.

Adronauts Berlin – “An attempt to visualize ‘Big Brother is watching you’ with only a few signs.”

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Standard stock image manipulation:

Relatively new talent –> $300 – $500

Experienced –> $500 – $800

Top-tier –> $800 – $1500

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A beautiful, simplistic, yet eye catching rendition of George Orwell’s 1984 done by someone you too could hire.

Inclusion of Original photos or Illustrations – if you do not have your own source of artistic content or are not providing it on your own, but expect or ask for it, then the service can jump up 50% to double in price. This entails more work on the designers end or may require hiring other talent

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Create Your Own

Not highly recommended but definitely possible

I’m going to approach this possibility in a more step by step style rather than a here’s why you should do this approach. As stated above, I don’t personally recommend this approach as it could result in a huge flop; a professional in the field will most likely do better than you in creating an eye catching, appealing cover. But if you’re on a budget, or you’ve got some artistic talent under your belt, here’s what to do:

(I am by no means a professional, do not take my word as fact, this is simply what I have found in my own research. As always, I encourage you to do some of your own research, and only intend to give you somewhere to start)

Step 1: Look at other books in your genre

Find some successful books in the genre you’ve written in, look for patterns or common styles in their cover’s. There’s a reason these covers are designed this way, and there’s a reason they’re successful. You want to be original, of course, but you need to start somewhere, and every good beginner needs to looks to the professionals sometimes.

Step 2: Choose a software

The better the software, the steeper the learning curve. A good software is desirable, the better the software the more options and detail your cover has, but in order to create a good cover you need to know how to use your software to the best of it’s capability. A good place to start if your not very tech savvy is Canva, easy to use and free if you’re quick about it (30 day free trial). Other softwares include Adobe’s InDesign and Photoshop, both of which also have free trial options. Photoshop is the hardest of the three to use well, but if you’re willing to put in the time to learn then it could be worth the effort.

Step 3: Images and Art

Contrary to what your instincts might be telling you, you can’t just use any random google image on the cover of your book. Most images you come across probably have some sort of copyright, and you could get a letter in the mail the day after publishing your book asking for damages. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go around taking your own pictures or anything, you just have to get your images from the right place. Some free stock image libraries include Pixabay, Unsplash and Shutterstock. Shutterstock images may cost a few dollars but it has the wider, more extensive platform. Another option, if you have artistic talent beyond writing, is taking your own photography, or getting a gifted friend to lend you some of their time. This grants you more artistic freedom and liberty, and may also give your friend some recognition if your book does well. You could also draw or paint or do whatever you feel comfortable with, it can’t hurt to at least see how something works out. Don’t be afraid to ask your artistic friends for some help! Having cool, personalized art can make your work stand out. If you didn’t want to hire a professional cover designer but are willing to shell out a couple bucks for a cool little cartoon on your cover, go for it! The sky is your limit. I asked my friend for a sample drawing to really drive this option home, and got the image below, which only took her about ten minutes. Picture the title being shouted in a speech bubble, or a dramatic little sub title about love lost or something equally dramatic. Have some fun with it!

Beautiful art by my talented friend Olivia. Find her art on Instagram @olivia.art

Step 4: Dimensions

If you’re publishing an ebook this is the easy part, Amazon and other ebook sellers strongly suggest dimensions of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels. If you’re publishing a printed book, however, this is by far the easiest part to mess up. Start by looking at the standard book size in your genre, then factor in your page count and paper density for the spine thickness, then create and typeset a back cover that you didn’t need in the creating of an ebook. If you’re creating a printed book, you should STRONGLY consider hiring a professional for your cover design. There are way too many variables at play for an inexperienced author to have a realistic shot at creating something credible and usable. If you would like to disregard that advise, please please please do a boatload of research before even beginning your design

Step 5: Typography

This may seem like the easy part, just pick a cool font, but getting your fonts to work with each other and with the cover to create the desired effect can be pretty difficult. Here are some tips I found: I know this might sound repetitive by now, but start by looking at other books in your genre, what kind of fonts do they use? Don’t use the same font for your title and name, and don’t write ‘by ______’ or ‘written by _______’, just write your name, the audience will understand. If your cover has a tag line or other information on the cover decide if it should be in the same font as the author name or in a third font, you shouldn’t use more than 2-3 fonts on your cover. Don’t use fonts that have their own stuff going on, like Papyrus or Comic Sans, which are popular in memes, it will take away from your book. Unless you’ve got a famous name, keep your name relatively small, let the rest of the cover speak for itself. Simple isn’t bad.

Step 6: Test it out

Once you have a rough draft of your cover, feel free to ask others what they think! Whether that means asking your friends and family or readers from your genre, feedback will be helpful! Social media can be a big help here, especially if you’re stuck between two cover options and you want to know which one people like more.

Thanks for reading, I hope this helped! Good luck!!!

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A lot of the above research was done at Reedsy, where you can not only find your perfect editor, designer, or marketer, but information on how to handle doing all of that and more. It’s a good place to start if you’re hungry for more information, check it out!

Image result for you can do it foxtato

Photo Creds:

http://collider.com/harry-potter-book-covers-olly-moss-pottermore/ https://mashable.com/2013/07/31/harry-potter-new-book-covers/ https://www.pottermore.com/news/new-hogwarts-house-editions-of-chamber-of-secrets-to-be-published-this-summer

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