Guest Post: So You Want To Make A Book Cover

4 Oct

Shannon here for one second: I spend a lot of time talking with authors and reading their blogs. Because of this, I often come across some great information that I think you guys will like, and this is one of those gems I had to share. This post is written by Alianne Donnellya published and self-published author of paranormal and fantasy romance novels, and it’s all about creating your book covers, efficiently and effectively. (Speaking of which, the cover for Seconds Before Sunrise is in the works) Enjoy!

Admittedly, I haven’t been doing this very long, but in the last two years or so, I have learned a great deal, most of which I have condensed here for your viewing pleasure. This is something everyone who wants to embark on the arduous journey of creating cover art should know and be aware of.

1. Know Your Tools. Microsoft Paint does not count as a tool. To truly make a presentable (read: marketable) cover, you need to use what the pros use. If you can’t shell out $800 for Photoshop software (and, let’s face it, who can these days?) then GIMP is your next best option. It is free, open source, and, in my humble opinion, much easier to use. Still not a breeze, though. Expect to put a lot of hours into this project. Download yours today at http://www.GIMP.org

2. Stock Up On Essentials. Think of your cover as a new recipe you are cooking up. Here are your necessary ingredients:

- Stock Images (sxc.hu, morguefile.com, fotolia.com, istockphoto.com, etc.)

- Fonts (dafont.com, fonts2u.com, fontfreak.com, 1001freefonts.com, etc.)

- Textures (optional)

- Patterns (optional)

- Scripts (optional)

Sometimes a good stock image and a pretty font is sufficient. Other times you need to play around a little more. But no matter what you use or how much, always, always, always check the licenses and use agreements. If you’re not sure if you can use something, ask. Better be safe than sued out of your home and hearth by an artist scorned.

3. Learn To Love Your Size. And by that I mean industry standards for cover image sizing, of course. The size of your cover will dictate the size of the stock images you need. You need an image large and detailed enough to look great as a thumbnail as well as a full screen shot on an iPad. For eBooks, expect to make something at least 1,000 pixels wide at the absolute minimum. Bigger is better. For print book covers, ask for a template. Printers have very specific in terms of what has to go where. Be aware of them and follow the rules.  

 

And lastly…

 

4. Learn From The Masters. I’m not saying copy a design exactly. That would be wrong and ultimately not worth it—you want your book to stand out. I’m saying spend some time on research. Look for covers you like. Study them. Look at the details and try to figure out how they were achieved. Mix and match and play around. You can take a shadowing skill from here, a special font from there, a texturing idea from somewhere else, and create something brand new and beautiful, and all your own.

And whatever you do, don’t forget to have fun!

 

Good Luck!SONY DSC

Alianne Donnelly is a published and self-published author of paranormal and fantasy romance novels. When she’s not at her society-prescribed 9-5, she is diligently working on her next masterpiece and/or tinkering with another graphic to outdo the last one. Or possibly Facebook. Most days all three at the same time. Her books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and anywhere else eBooks are sold. Check out her latest release and other shenanigans at http://aliannedonnelly.com or like her page at http://www.facebook.com/alydonnelly

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17 Responses to “Guest Post: So You Want To Make A Book Cover”

  1. Hadassa October 4, 2013 at 1:47 am #

    Reblogged this on hadassaab.

  2. Sue Howe October 4, 2013 at 3:45 am #

    My advice, as a graphic designer of nearly 40 years’ experience, is slightly different from the above. Most writers are not designers. It is easy to get carried away by your own genius in writing a fabulous book and think you can now do anything! Most self-designed covers are spottable a mile away, however good the main image and however proficient you are in Photoshop. The trick is to make the type an integral part of the design, and you can only do this if you understand the relationship of the elements to each other (the tension) and the shape within which you are working. Your advice is sound as far as it goes but if you haven’t an eye for balance and colour, it will still look homemade. Do you really want to spend years writing and editing your book only to send it out in its underwear? There are may good and affordable designers out there – I can certainly recommend one very highly – and, at the very least, I think it’s imperative you get a professional to look at what you’ve done and make suggestions/tweak the elements.

    It is no easier to see your own design work clearly than it is to edit it. Just because your mum likes what you’ve done, it doesn’t mean it’s good enough.

  3. Sue October 4, 2013 at 3:50 am #

    My advice, as a graphic designer of nearly 40 years’ experience, is slightly different from the above. Most writers are not designers. It is easy to get carried away by your own genius in writing a fabulous book and think you can now do anything! Most self-designed covers are spottable a mile away, however good the main image and however proficient you are in Photoshop. The trick is to make the type an integral part of the design, and you can only do this if you understand the relationship of the elements to each other (the tension) and the shape within which you are working. Your advice is sound as far as it goes but if you haven’t an eye for balance and colour, it will still look homemade. Do you really want to spend years writing and editing your book only to send it out into the world in its underwear? There are may good and affordable designers out there – I can certainly recommend one very highly – and, at the very least, I think it’s imperative you get a professional to look at what you’ve done and make suggestions/tweak the elements.

    It is no easier to see your own design work clearly than it is to edit it. Just because your mum likes what you’ve done, it doesn’t mean it does your book the justice it deserves.

    • Alianne October 4, 2013 at 9:25 am #

      I agree it goes without saying that if an author doesn’t feel up to it or needs help, they absolutely should have a professional help them or create the cover. It’s a lot of work and it’s not easy. I have several names I could recommend also. These tips were more for those dead set on doing it themselves. It’s the barebones minimum meant to set them in the right direction at least. In any case, we learn by doing. :) I can’t speak for everyone but for me, making covers and graphics is just another creative outlet. Thanks for sharing your expertise!

  4. Ky Grabowski October 4, 2013 at 6:48 am #

    Reblogged this on Ky Grabowski and commented:
    Great informative piece on designing your own cover for your work! I recommened checking this piece out by Alianna Donnelly. Her piece is very helpful and an enjoyable read. Alianna is honest, intelligent and a good writer! I love the tips she shared with us – I’m defiantly going to be looking back on this piece in the future.

    Ky,

  5. Alianne October 4, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    Thanks so much for featuring me, Shannon! I had fun writing this and hope it helps people :)

    • Shannon Thompson October 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

      You’re welcome :D I love being able to share information like this. I’m glad you agreed to be a part of it!
      ~SAT

  6. Alianne October 4, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    Thanks for featuring me, Shannon! I had fun and hope the tips help other authors out there :) I agree wih Sue above, though. When all else fails, seek a professional cover artist.

  7. nancyrae4 October 4, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    This is a wonderful,informative post, but I agree with Sue. It is very important to get input from graphic artists even if you do your own design. Unfortunately, readers DO judge a book by its cover, so yours must be fantastic. And, a note about Photoshop: it is a very deep software. Its power is amazing but to wield such power, you need to understand the subtlties of design and color. Just like writing your novel, creating a cover is a process of discovery.

  8. Jevon October 5, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    I think I’ll just leave book cover designing to the professionals and focus on writing.

    • Shannon Thompson October 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

      I’ve never made a book cover either lol But I thought this was a great post for those who want to make their own covers.
      ~SAT

  9. A. Latoya Charlton October 6, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    Very informative post!

    However, I dare not attempt my own cover design for fear of well, messing it up. Stick people aren’t that cool :P

    Thank you for sharing!

    xo

  10. angel7090695001 October 10, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    I use a nice photo and comic sans ms font.

  11. Shela October 17, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    Heya i’m for the primary time here. I found this board
    and I find It truly helpful & it helped me out much.
    I’m hoping to offer something again and help others such as you aided me.

  12. Vito July 17, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful article.

    Thank you for providing these details.

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