Tag Archives: Book cover art and design

Alex Rosa: How I Designed My Book Cover for FAHRENHEIT

Posted by September 22nd, 2015

Happy book birthday to Book Country member Alex Rosa–her latest book, FAHRENHEIT, pubs today!

When I found out that Alex designed this gorgeous, sexy cover for FAHRENHEIT herself, I had to find out more. Alex explains her DIY approach to cover design below.

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Everyone says, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” which is true, but you can’t help but “oohh” and “aahh” over an enticing one. Although we aren’t supposed to take a book at face value, it should still exemplify what the book holds inside at least a little bit, which is what we are all trying to go for as authors in this ever evolving world of publishing. Here’s how I designed my book cover.

Fahrenheit cover lo res

FAHRENHEIT (out today!) is my first leap into the erotica genre, and since it has some risqué subject matter I knew it was important for the cover to feel edgy, sexy, and forbidden. I have a plethora of tools to work with in Photoshop (an Adobe design program), but I knew I wanted an illustrated look to the cover rather than people or places. I wanted something more conceptual rather than realistic.

If you’re choosing to design the cover yourself there are many stock image websites where you can find illustrations and photographs to license.

Recommended stock image websites:

If you can’t find a stock image you like, you can also consider seeking out a favorite photographer that might have a photo in their portfolio for you to license for a fee. Continue reading

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The Stunning Book Cover Designs of Carol Devine Carson

Posted by August 18th, 2015

CC_Devine_Carson_r2 (2)Carol Devine Carson, VP and Art Director at the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, has been designing book covers that have deeply resonated with readers for more than two decades. Her work has been featured in various art shows and design publications, but Carol says that most gratifying for her has been the opportunity to work on great books by an impressive variety of wonderful authors: “Who gets to meet Katharine Hepburn, Julian Barnes, Katharine Graham, John Updike, Bill Clinton, or Julia Child by simply going to work?” Keep reading to hear more from Carol.

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Q: What initially drew you to the world of book cover art design?

CC_Alice's Adventures (2)A: I was fortunate to have beautiful books around me from earliest memory. I never tired of looking at every detail and every color combination in the art. DOCTOR DOOLITTLE IN THE MOON (cover and endpapers) is but one example that still looks fresh and sophisticated to me. I believe the accompanying visual must support the writing and complement it, while bringing fresh ideas and surprise to it as well.

For example, in designing new volumes for the Everyman’s Library series of classic writing, which we launched at Knopf in 1991, I like to imagine a child getting a copy of THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS, THE POPPY SEED CAKES, or maybe ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND.

Q: How would you describe the conceptual processes you follow when creating a book cover?

A: It all begins with the author and the writing. I have designed a few jackets for books that literally stunned me as I read them. The first being DAMAGE by Josephine Hart. I think I could read that book again today and feel the same way. I knew the jacket had to be stark and nonrepresentational, since the characters had to be solely in one’s imagination.CC_Damage_Hart_jkt005 (2)

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How to Use the Cover Designer on Book Country

Posted by June 24th, 2014

Like it or not, books ARE judged by their covers. Having an eye-catching and attractive book cover can persuade more readers to read and review your book. Our free and easy-to-use Cover Designer can help you create a polished cover. The following step-by-step guide shows you how to use the Cover Designer.

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Book Cover Design Tips from Dave Walker

Posted by June 23rd, 2014

Book Covers Designed By Dave Walker

Book covers designed by Dave Walker.

We live in an entertainment universe where we are constantly over-stimulated with hi-def images and sound. As a freelance art director and book cover designer for the past 15 years, I’ve had to remind clients—and sometimes myself—that books are the opposite of that. A book cover is not a video or an animated GIF. It cannot move or make noise. We can’t try to force it to sing and dance. Books sit there patiently waiting for us to discover them. The cover is your vehicle to pull someone in, to give the potential reader a little sneak peak inside the book and to set the tone for what’s inside. You don’t have to tell the whole story—actually, as I’ll explain later, you shouldn’t even try.

When I first started designing covers I spent a lot of time in bookstores simply looking at books—15 years later I still make time to visit my local bookshops to see what other designers are doing, and to find inspiration. Outside of the broad categories of fiction and nonfiction there are myriad kinds of books and they all have a general feel and style—self-help, memoir, biography, cookbook, how-to, etc. Just like shoes and clothes, book cover designs have popular styles that come and go and evolve over time. You can feel an older design the same way you can feel an older model of car. This is part of the reason why publishers will repackage books after they start to look dated. Head down to your local bookseller (or, not as good, but still effective: browse online) and see what books in your particular category look like. They won’t all be the same, but you’ll start to get an idea of what publishers have found to be successful and, more importantly, what readers currently expect to see on a cover. Here I should state that you are not there looking to rip-off someone else’s design (although it goes on quite a bit, I’m sure you’re better than that). Inspiration good; stealing bad.

Whenever I design a cover—no matter what the subject—I ultimately want it to say one simple thing: “pick me.” I want to compel someone browsing online to click the cover and give the book a chance. You can’t always pinpoint what it is, but some books you just want to see what’s inside. Many times in print this is accomplished with fancy production effects like embossing, glossy varnish, or an unusual paper stock. But it can also be accomplished with a great typeface and just the right image. Maybe it’s a unique color combination, a contrast in type styles, an enticing title or subtitle.

A Few Book Cover Design Tips:

Keep your type simple and readable. Unless you have a real flair for type design you should just stick to basic, strong, readable fonts. A really cool font that is tough to read does more harm than good. Think carefully about colors and composition. Light type on a light background is tough to read. Small type placed on an image can disappear. Continue reading

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Why I Love My Book Cover by Elizabeth Andrews

Posted by June 18th, 2014

HuntingMedusa cover.jpgThis is going to sound just terrible, but as a reader, I rarely shop for books by the cover art.  When I go shopping for books, I almost always have a list of books I’ve culled from favorite authors’ websites, or recommendations from readers I trust. I can appreciate all of the lovely covers on the shelves in the store–though I will profess a bit of a bias against all the copy-cat covers on erotic romances these days–fruit and flowers?  Those do not scream “hot romance” to me.  Give me a hot, shirtless hero on the cover, whether he’s alone or with his heroine. I am, after all, a romance fanatic.

That is one big reason why the cover for my book HUNTING MEDUSA makes me so happy when I look at it. (And, okay, I might have petted it a few thousand times.) But it isn’t just the mostly-naked hunk looking all broody and dangerous. No, the talented artist who worked on my cover art managed to work a bit of the setting into the background, and there’s the heroine, defiant and still vulnerable. Plus there’s a nifty little symbol tucked into the corner that will continue throughout the trilogy, and that makes me smile. The first time I saw it absolutely thrilled me, seeing all those little touches put together after all the work I’d put into the book. Plus, seeing the cover art made the book feel even more real than everything leading up to that point. Continue reading

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How to Write About Love Like a Man: Dan Rhodes and Flash Fiction

Posted by February 13th, 2014

I read Women’s Fiction more ardently than almost any genre, but even I sometimes get tired of the pink frilly covers that come with it. That’s what makes the cover of Dan Rhodes’s story collection MARRY ME feel fun and a little subversive: It plays on a lot of the Women’s Fiction (or chick lit) tropes and turns them on their head.

Spend an evening–perhaps tomorrow evening, if you don’t have other plans–with this book, and you’ll be delighted to read about marriage and domestic coupling from a fresh–if often rather cynical–perspective. Dan writes “short shorts” or “flash fiction”–extremely brief stories not much longer than a page, even just a paragraph. In honor of Valentine’s Day, Dan shares my favorite of his stories with the Book Country community, and stays for a chat about how to write about love like a man. Read his story “Science,” and try writing your own short short to share on this Book Country Discussion Board or in the comment section below.

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Science

I was delighted when my scientist girlfriend agreed to become my fiancée. “This is the happiest moment of my life,” I said.

“Mine too,” she replied. “I’m experiencing an unprecedented rush of dopamine and norepinephrine. Of course the production of these particular neurotransmitters will decrease over time, but I have a pretty good feeling that our vasopressin levels will remain adequate, and we’ll be fine for the long haul. But never mind all that,” she said, taking off her goggles and unbuttoning her lab coat. “What do you say we release a bit of the old oxytocin?”

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Dan RhodesLS: MARRY ME is a collection of short shorts about marriage—and almost all of them (spoiler alert!) have unhappy endings. Anyone going through a breakup this Valentine’s Day will gladly embrace the book, but give us your best pitch why the romantics among us might want to read your book, too.

DR: Even the most happily coupled people tend to have excruciating romantic histories, so even if you live in a world of hearts and flowers it won’t do you any harm to be reminded of what might have been. But quite honestly, this book is more likely to be appreciated by those who find Valentine’s Day to be a crushing ordeal. Thwarted romantics, in other words. I was one for years, and I still harbor a residual dislike for February 14th – a day when incredibly fortunate people are further rewarded with pink treats. Continue reading

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The Magic of Book Cover Design with Larry Rostant

Posted by October 23rd, 2013

When I saw the cover reveal for Book Country member Kerry Schafer‘s WAKEWORLD (which comes out from Ace in January), it literally took my breath away.

WAKEWORLD book cover design

The WAKEWORLD cover is just one of many iconic book jackets designed by UK cover designer Larry Rostant, whose work also includes the well-known covers for George R.R. Martin’s books, used by Martin’s publishers around the world. He’s designed covers for every kind of book, from Romance to Literary Fiction to Science Fiction. Larry says, “My job is to get the reader to choose that book and to lift it off the shelf.” Continue reading

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GEEKOMANCY Revealed!

Posted by May 2nd, 2012

Book Country user Mike Underwood shares the cover for his forthcoming urban fantasy novel.

michaelrunderwood

Back in March, we were ecstatic when one of our long-time super-users,Michael R. Underwood, sold his debut book GEEKOMANCY and its sequel to editor Adam Wilson at Pocket Books. GEEKOMANCY – an urban fantasy that Mike describes as “Clerks meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer” – was first workshopped on Book Country, and instantly became a community favorite. It’s now scheduled to come out on July 10, 2012! You can pre-order the book here.

We’ve been keeping up with Michael’s progress and are happy to be able to share his amazing book cover:

 

GeekomanyCover small

 

The cover is a stunning drawing of GEEKOMANCY’s main character, Ree Reyes, a “barista-and-comicshop slave.” It does a great job of capturing the quirky charm of Michael’s heroine. The novel follows her adventures in an urban version of Alice’s Wonderland, as Reyes helps a scruffy-looking guy named Eastwood investigate a string of mysterious teen suicides.

Congratulations to Michael on his success!

We wish him luck with putting the finishing touches on his book and planning out the sequel. To keep up with Michael and the publication of GEEKOMANCY, follow him on Twitter @MikeRUnderwood or read about his writing joys and travails on his blog, Geek Theory. Michael is represented by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency.

* Cover art by Trish Cramblet, Design by Min Choi

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Cover Art: An Aesthetic Marketing Tool

Posted by February 2nd, 2012

Book Country Twitter Chat (January 26, 2012)

Cover design masters Irene Gallo and John Picacio share some tips and experience about the aesthetic aspect of trade publishing.

twitter_newbird_boxed_blueonwhite

Judging a book by its cover. We’re always told not to do it, but that’s kind of a cover’s purpose. To hook a reader, to catch an eye, to express in an external way that which is internal to the book itself. So, how do illustrators, graphic designers, photographers, and art directors do it? What makes a strong cover, and how do they take the heart of a book and put it on the cover’s sleeve, in the first place?

With a lot of hard work, creativity, and passion, for sure. That much even I know. But to give us more details, Book Country chatted with some of the top pros in the business: Irene Gallo (@IreneGallo) and John Picacio@JohnPicacio).

Irene is the creative director at Tor.com and Tor/Forge Books, one of the largerst science fiction and fantasy imprints in publishing. She is also a member of the Society of Illustrators Board of Directors AND the Spectrum Advisory Board.

John, too, is brimming with experience as one of the the most beloved and well-known cover artists in the science ficton, fantasy, and horror genres. His covers have won multiple awards MULTIPLE TIMES, as well as received numerous Hugo Award nominations for his work.

Check out some of the chat’s highlights and/or find the full transcript embedded below for your learning pleasure:

@JohnPicacio: I think the most challenging [thing] is also the most central — it’s trying to connect the book w/ its audience.

@IreneGallo: [Cover artists] need to grab the readers attention _fast_. That’s usually more about tone than detail.

@JohnPicacio: I begin by listening to the art director’s brief. Then I go read the manuscript and start breaking down the text. The reality is though (and Irene knows this all too well) — the manuscript isn’t always available to the artist.

@IreneGallo: Authors’ can often be too close the project. Fixated on too many subtleties of the book.

@JohnPicacio: [The book’s] title can have influence [on design], but I’m looking @ spirit of the book & its strengths first. Macro before micro. 🙂

@IreneGallo: Talk to [freelance designers] frankly about the revisions stage. I think self-pub gets stickiest when authors want more revisions than is sometimes called for. Keeping everyone on point is important. Marketing image,not a retelling.

If you missed the chat or want to remind yourself, we’ve posted the entire transcript as a PDF document here. The PDF will open in your browser and you’ll be able to save it to your computer if you like. You can also get to know your fellow genre fiction lovers by clicking directly on their Twitter handles.

Remember though that the chat appears from newest to oldest tweets, so start at the end of the PDF and work your way up.

Thanks to all who made this chat such a great success!

REMEMBER: Book Country Twitter chats occur every other Thursday nightfrom 9-10 pm EST. Just use the hashtag #bookcountry to participate or follow along. Topics are announced in advance in the Book Country Discussion forums, so be sure to take a look! And follow us on Twitter@Book_Country.

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Collaborating to Make a Great Book Cover

Posted by December 3rd, 2011

A freelance designer advises on how to approach the make a great book cover.

“It’s your book, your baby, and you have every right to have input into what the cover looks like.”

ROOM_feature placement

Whether you’re publishing an eBook, paperback, or hardcover book – a custom cover designed specifically for your book is always your best option. So, what I’ve cobbled together here are a few guidelines for working with a cover designer, because unless you are very experienced with sophisticated image manipulation software – such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator – and have professional design experience yourself, you really need to work with someone who does. The keywords here are “work with someone.”

 

sample2

1. COVER DESIGN SHOULD BE A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT BETWEEN THE DESIGNER AND THE AUTHOR. Nobody knows your book as well as you do. In fact, it’s highly unlikely the designer will have read it or will have the time to do so. I ask my clients to fill out a questionnaire that gets us started on this collaborative process and then follow up with phone discussions and numerous email exchanges along the way. If your designer is not a collaborative type – find someone else. Period. It’s your book, your baby that you’ve sweated blood over, and you have every right to have input into what the cover looks like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deadly Voyage

2. LISTEN TO YOUR DESIGNER. Now that you’ve read #1, I must point out that you work with a designer for a reason – to help you put out an eye-catching cover that will attract buyers/readers. You may have your heart set on 72 pt. puce-colored type for the title, but if you’ve got a decent designer who says, “Uh, no…I don’t think so, and here’s why….” you need to listen. Keep an open mind.

3. BE HONEST. As an avid reader myself, few things tick me off more than buying a book based on a snazzy cover (lots of buyers/readers do this) only to discover that the cover has little or nothing to do with the content of the book. It’s dishonest and I will dump a client rather than do this.

ROOM_feature placement

4. WHAT ABOUT TYPE-ONLY COVERS? Unless your name is Tom Clancy, it probably isn’t a good idea. And even Clancy covers usually have some sort of art element on them along with the big type – a chopper, blood splatters, weapon, etc… Clancy has a huge following of slavishly loyal readers. Do you? If the answer is “No,” you need more than type on your cover. There are very rare exceptions to this rule and here is one of them – the U.S. and Canadian cover for the New York TimesBestseller ROOM by Emma Donoghue. I don’t know who designed this cover, but it’s a good job. Why is it an eye-catching exception?

a. The super-short title allows for a huge point size in the type – easily readable from a distance (for book store browsers);

b. The font chosen is an unusual, childish (HONESTY!) one and is presented in a different bright color for each letter;

c. Colorful letters against a stark white background make for high contrast that attracts the eye.

5. CHOOSING STOCK ART.  I suppose Nora Roberts might be able to command a pricey photo shoot with models of her choice (think several thousand dollars), but don’t fantasize that you’ll have the same option. Most covers are designed with stock art. Stock photography can be expensive, or it can be free (see the Deadly Voyage cover above), and everything in between. The quality can also vary wildly. Lean on your designer here. From decades of experience, I can spot a lousy photograph with limited possibilities at a glance; chances are the author can’t. Things I look for in a photo, other than whether it is context-appropriate for the book, are: sharp focus, sufficient contrast, adequate foreground and background (for placement of the title, author name, and additional art elements as needed), appropriate color, and that indefinable quality that I call JAZZ (it’s got to turn me on).

golden cover

6. YOUR COVER ART CAN – AND SHOULD – DO MORE FOR YOU.  The most wonderful book in the world (even with a terrific cover) may well remain inadequately sold and read without promotion. Successful authors learn this lesson early on and live it. Can the art elements on your cover be easily used promotionally on items such as: book trading cards, bookmarks, ads, website banners, merchandise (mouse pads, coffee mugs, t-shirts, etc…)? There is no reason why you should have to purchase additional stock art bannerWEBgoldenor promotional purposes if you’re smart about it from the start. Discuss this with your designer (hopefully your designer offers these services as well) and let her/him guide you to wise choices that can easily be re-used in marketing your book.

7. WHAT ABOUT USING A PRE-MADE COVER?  The trick to using a pre-made cover is finding one that suits your book. Not all designers offer them because they really aren’t good money-makers. I do because I have a weak spot for fledgling authors with skimpy purses. You can see my current stock of pre-made eBook covers here.  If you must go the pre-made route, look for two things: the best fit for your book; and, a designer who will insert the title and author name for you at no additional charge (the designer will have a wide selection of fonts to choose from – I have hundreds – and a good eye for the best placement, size, color, etc…).

Turquoise Sea WEBFarm Boy WEBDream Catcher WEB

 

I asked a Twitter pal of mine, Robin Bradford (aka @Tuphlos on Twitter), who is very savvy about book covers to choose a few she’s seen recently that really grabbed her attention. Robin is the Collection Development Librarian at the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library and doubtless sees thousands of covers every year – so she should know! Here are her selections and insightful comments:

the watchtower (1)

“[The Watchtower cover is] a very menacing image that tells the reader a little of what they may get on the inside. It looks like a genre fantasy book, you wouldn’t open this book and expect space ships or a police procedural or a cozy mystery.  It tells you what to expect without gimmicks or tricks.  It’s a tower with some swirls and color and a bird but it looks slick and professional. You CAN do more with less!”

 

 

 

 

 

hereafter

“[The Hereafter cover] also telegraphs the story a bit; you get the ghostly angle right away. Even though it tells you, it’s still mysterious and draws the potential reader/purchaser closer.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hell

 

“[Maps of Hell is] another one that seems almost tactile. I look at this cover and it almost hurts. I don’t think the pages inside are going to be soft and fuzzy.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dawn Charles - logo bio photoAbout Dawn

After a long career as a journalist – newspaper, magazine, and public relations – Dawn has taken the leap into creative writing. She currently has three books in the works – two novels and a cookbook. As the editor of a professional magazine for educators, she did her own design work and won numerous awards for cover design. Early in 2011, Dawn applied those skills to design eBook covers for some author friends and several web and print ads as well. Now she offers a freelance design service specifically for authors: Book Graphics. Find her on Twitter at @bridgemama, on Facebook as Book Graphics, and on Book Country as snurf.

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