I’ve seen my share of ugly book covers, and books that say nothing about their content. I’m not calling anybody out or naming names…But I may reference a few (especially commercially published) titles. And, if you can figure out which I mean…well you win a prize! LOL. j/k.
Seriously. I will “gift you” a copy of Black Widow & Other Tales. However, you do not have to do play a guessing game. Just post a comment. Then, I will be picking 3 lucky people to “gift” copies to c/o random.org. The lucky winners will be announced Tomorrow evening. Basically, my whole goal with this post is simply to raise awareness about cover art, design, and keeping your cover “genre friendly.”
I’ve seen my share of bad, boring, and bland book covers. I’m sure we all have. Mind you, I’ve seen just as many ugly, blah, and cheesy book covers from traditionally published books as I have SP/Indie books…if not more.
There seems to be a trend towards the bland in traditionally published books; not to mention a trend toward eye-bugging color schemes. And, yes I know for some of them it doesn’t matter. A large neon number on a certain mystery author’s books does nothing to make me want to pick it up and peruse the content. However, as I understand it, it’s just like a “Bat signal” to the author’s fanbase alerting them to the next book in the series.
Another series with neon colored covers and some odd symbol on the front does nothing to indicate that the series is fantasy. However, it did grant the book some cross-over appeal.
Trust me, my comments aren’t that of “some indie who’s jus jelus.” I have been researching these things and studying these, in regards to “dos and don’ts” for my own covers. And, I bring these up as sort of a parent telling a child “If Johnny jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?”
Mind you, I am one that is heeding my own advice as I recently redesigned the book cover for Carousel. I confess that when I originally published the cover I was aiming for “drugstore paperback kitsch.” Now, I see that’s not the way to go. Heaven forbid my cover would wind up on “Good Show Sir” or any of those blogs that mock bad cover art. hahaha! Gotta love those!
* Ultimately, the best option is to hire a cover artist or even barter for one. However a) I realize it’s not always in one’s budget. It’s certainly not in mine, however I have artists in my own family that are willing to help me out. and B) Even so, you should have an idea of what you do or don’t want in a book cover. You should have your concept in mind to discuss with the artist, and know what works and what doesn’t work. Good sources to find young, talented artists who would probably charge reasonable fees are: Deviant Art, conceptualart.com, and Elfwood.com.
* If you do have artistic talent, and know tricks and tips with Photoshop, Gimp, and other graphics programs that’s great. Stock art can be your best friend (and in some cases, your worse enemy. heheh). The thing with stock art, is you tend to see a lot of the same images (especially with free images from dreamstime.com, etc.) Use images you really do not see a lot of. Yes, sometimes you pay for those…but sometimes you don’t. I prefer Fotolia because you can buy credits, download different sized, and I’ve seen images there that are not on every single stock art site on the web.
* Whether you use deviantart.com or some stock photo site, always follow the licensing requirements for the image you purchased. Spare your self the legal headaches in advance. 😉
* Your content should indicate what readers should expect, and be genre-specific. Fantasy books should use fantasy-themed font, and shouldn’t be bland or generic. Horror elements should have some horror element to it, etc. For a (rather outlandish) example: Don’t use a spaceship on the cover of your pnr/horror story, just because one of your characters mentioned that he had a dream about a spaceship on page three. If it’s part of your plot that’s one thing. But, if it has nothing to do with the Succubus living in his basement, and seducing him as he sleeps… I’d suggest picking a cover image that speaks PNR and succubi rather than spaceships.
* Your cover should not be too busy, or overloaded with too many graphic images. For instance, a background image of a city and then a photo of your protagonist over it, with a bunch of smaller images scattered around him/her. Sometimes, less is more.
* Font should be clear, and legible. And, stay away from fonts that are overdone (like papyrus.) Unless your book is a comic book, stay away from comic sans.
* Your color scheme should not clash, or be so similar that it all blends in together (like gray font on a black background). Black, white, and red is supposedly the most eye-catching color combination. I used this for Black Widow & Other Tales. Neons, in my opinion, are a no-no.
* And, I hate to say it but…Sex sells. Sorry, it’s true. Mind you, I’m not necessarily talking about having dirty or risque pictures on the cover. But, the alluring, beautiful, handsome people on the cover can draw people to your book. This is why I bought Janny Wurst’s Mistwraith books, after all. 😉
I am by no means an expert–but I do have experience in the graphic arts field. I spent one summer working with my sister, and she helps to advise me on my own cover design.
I admit I’ve made mistakes with my paperback for Wishful Thinking, but now I know more…and can do better. However, I like the look of my kindle edition cover.
I just wanted to share some of my thoughts, and pass on advice. 😉
Write and publish with pride!