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Book covers.

27 May

All the advice is to get professional help designing a book cover.

I am tempted to ignore the advice. I have seen so many awful professionally designed covers – covers that would put me off buying the book if I wasn’t already aware of its contents, covers that are hard to see at thumbnail size on distribution sites, covers that just don’t appeal to me. This applies to printed books and ebooks equally. And I know authors who have trouble with the art publishers insist on using.

I have spent quite a bit of time studying the requirements and thinking about designing my own covers. I love playing with images to make icons, banners, etc. and I have a huge stock of my own and my family’s photographs to choose from. I don’t even need to find anything on the copyright free sites. As you know if you follow this blog I enjoy manipulating photos – tweaking the brightness, re-sizing, adding text, etc. I’m usually pleased with the results.

So far as I can work out the main things are:
*make sure it can be read in thumbnail size
*make sure it says something about the content
*make sure it doesn’t have too much information; stick to title, author and perhaps genre
*make sure it’s the right size for upload

So how hard can it be?

The picture I’ve used as a sample, to illustrate this post, was made from the photograph below (by me) of a misericord in Chester cathedral. You can see I’ve manipulated the sample quite a bit, before adding text. Both pictures have been re-sized to suit the demands of WordPress but the sample cover is proportionate for a Smashwords book cover. I didn’t actually spend long on this but would take more care with one for epublishing.

I have designed the covers for the first three titles I intend to upload. I’m quite pleased with them and I think they stand comparison with so-called professional ones. I can tweak them – they need to be different sizes for Smashwords and Amazon.

When I actually upload I’ll display them here and hope for comments. Meanwhile, is there anything I’m missing?

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4 Comments

Posted by on May 27, 2012 in publishing

 

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4 responses to “Book covers.

  1. chris allen

    May 27, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    I’m with you. GIMP software is free if you don’t want to buy Photoshop and I intend to give it a workout shortly. However, I have seen some very good Ebook covers and can get them professionally made from about $50 using non-copyright images. For my fantasy, I need to get special images created so it’s going to be quite expensive.

     
    • jaymountney

      May 27, 2012 at 11:51 pm

      I have GIMP but I also have Fireworks and I’m used to it. I used Fireworks for the sample in the post. I also found a couple of photo effect sites which I normally use for making cards, icons, etc. for use on my other blog. Some of their effects are quite good for making covers too.

      I hope you get the artist you want for your fantasy covers!

       
  2. Aletheia

    May 28, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    As for me, the cover never affects my decisions on buying, though it would if I had two or more different editions to choose at the moment. I mean, it’s never ‘to buy or not to buy’, but ‘which one to buy’, and in such cases covers (and other elements like font, paper, illustrations etc.) mean a lot to me.

    make sure it doesn’t have too much information
    This. I’ve seen one edition of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express where the cover virtually spoilers the solve.

    I didn’t actually spend long on this but would take more care with one for epublishing.
    Good to hear that, cause it does need more care, if you don’t mind me telling that. But I like the general idea – this particular photo and cutting. It looks intriguing and promises something interesting. I’m eager to see your covers!

    Maybe this will be useful?
    http://thebloodfiend.deviantart.com/art/How-To-Make-A-Basic-Book-Cover-277171171
    http://www.graphic-design.com/DTG/Design/book_covers/index.html
    http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/general/10-tips-for-effective-book-covers (hmm, arguable)
    http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com/cover-art-tips-for-the-do-it-yourselfer
    http://humblenations.com/2012/04/12/14-tips-for-good-kindle-cover-design/

    On the other hand, maybe don’t read it, in such a mass they tend to be confusing and discouraging…

    And if I could help in some problem, please, don’t hesitate to ask!

     
    • jaymountney

      May 28, 2012 at 7:44 pm

      If I’m already thinking of buying the book, the cover won’t influence me, but a cover can make me look at a book.
      I like covers that have no people on them. Cover artists never seem to get it right – the figures they draw and paint are never the characters I see when I read – except, of course, for historical figures where we have portraits etc. to tell us how they looked. But I’m writing romances so my covers will need to intrigue. For the sample cover I was only looking for something to introduce the discussion, not to get anyone to buy anything. I just wanted to show I could already crop, recolour, resize, add text, etc. Otherwise someone would be sure to warn me that I would need to learn!

      Thank you for all the information – as you say, it’s probably too much at once, but I shall work my way through it slowly! I might indeed need your help at some stage! I know where to come! Thank you.

       

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