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 Donnelly, a 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.
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!
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