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7 Ways to Jump Start Your Book Cover Design

30 November 2015

From Bookworks:

It’s never too early to think about your book cover design. Even if you’ve got writer’s block, at least you’ll feel like you’re getting some work done. And you are! Here are eight ways to jump start your book cover design process, including resources for artwork and photography. When it’s time to hire a cover designer, you’ll be able to judge from their portfolio if they’re right for you, and you’ll also be ready for an educated and productive conversation with them

1. Centralize and Organize

First, make a folder for saving ideas about your cover on your computer. Or, better yet, use a cloud-based repository like Google Drive, iCloud Drive, or DropBox. Invite your writing group or friends to add their ideas, too. You’ll eventually share this folder with your designer.

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3. Start Pinning with Pinterest

Pinterest is a great tool for collecting images such as, art, graphics, layout and typography ideas. You can keep your board private or make it a group board, sharing it with friends and fans. (Yep, this is a great social media strategy!) Because Pinterest is frequented by arty design types, there are also lots of boards focused on best book covers. You may even find your cover designer here.

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6. Discover DeviantArt

Do you have an idea for a sketch, illustration, or photography for your cover, but need someone to implement it? I often point authors to DeviantArt, a gathering place for artists, designers, and photographers of all kinds. Sort through the chaff by employing the search box to find elements you want. (Eyes, trees, road, concert, lake, romance…). Remember, these are artists and not professional cover designers, so before you buy anything or commission an artist, consult a pro.

Link to the rest at Bookworks

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18 Comments to “7 Ways to Jump Start Your Book Cover Design”

  1. Just a note on DeviantArt: Be careful who you’re dealing with, and make sure they understand exactly what rights you want to buy. One artist I contacted refused to allow me to use the image in marketing materials, which is a dealbreaker for me.

    • You’ll find the same thing in a lot of places, they’ll charge more if you’re going to use/sell it yourself. (Think wedding photos, they want to ‘sell’ the pictures, and not want to give you the ability to print your own.)

      • Yes, but she didn’t want to charge more. She didn’t want to sell those rights at all.

        • Ah, understood.

          And it’s something to watch out for. Get a written contract agreed to so they can’t ‘change the deal’ after the work is done/paid for.

          • Just as a comparison, Julie Dillon–who is now “Hugo Award-winning Julie Dillon”–flat out GAVE me an image she cropped out of the first cover I bought from her to use as a cover for a collection I’m writing starring the Catmages in my books. Now that’s a professional. Also a very generous woman. Mind you, her work costs a lot more, but it’s oh so worth it.

  2. I’ve gotten about 8 to 10 covers from Deviant Art artists this year. Overall, lots of catch-up work as I redid “bad” covers from 2013 and 2014.

    I’ve profiled many that will help sci-fi and fantasy authors and you can see that article by clicking my name.

    If you’re putting out a book that just can’t be done with a premade cover, or even a stock-image cover, I think Deviant Art is one of the better routes to take.

    I’ve only had one bad experience there, a guy that took some money for a sketch and then disappeared. Overwhelmingly, however, the artists are good and trustworthy.

  3. Do a cover a week, with variations. That way you learn the language of cover design, and the software becomes second nature to you. That way it takes no time at all to create a cover, and you can develop a Brand look for the books.

    I use Gimp, Inkscape, Blender, and assemble the final image using LibreOffice Draw. It is the same as Microsoft Visio. There are tons of tutorials to get up to speed.

    For years I kept a folder of covers I liked, then discovered that most of them were by Paul Bacon.

    Paul Bacon, 91, Whose Book Jackets Drew Readers and Admirers, Is Dead
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/11/business/paul-bacon-91-whose-book-jackets-drew-readers-and-admirers-is-dead.html

    Google Images – Paul Bacon book covers

    And see the cover style I like.

    I’m learning to duplicate artists like Jim Burns, Michael Whelan, and Daniel Merriam using Blender for the SF/F/H titles I’m doing.

    Use Google Images to look at each. Save a PDF of the search page to act as seeds to inspire covers.

    • I absolutely die for Michael Whelan. A couple other good ones I’ve come across recently are Michael Komarck and Jason Chan.

      • Wow! Some of the Jason Chan stuff is deeply scary. Thanks…

      • Now I see who did the Dragon Age art! I’ll add these guys to the wishlist.

        I was thinking the other day that the artists who still have talent and skill + imagination have left the canvas art world to go work for video games etc. Very nice art.

    • Heh, you sound more the artist than I, so I’ll keep playing with that DAZ 3D toy. (I’ve looked at Blender and couldn’t make heads or tails of it — though I have seen a lot of things online for DAZ that were created/made using Blender. 😉 )

      • Go to YouTube and enter the string – blender tutorial

        You will see tutorials for objects, landscapes, etc…, all for Beginner level. The only thing that makes stuff Advanced is just taking more time.

        Think of Blender and DAZ 3D as a way to make the hard stuff easy. Do things like create a spaceship or monster that you can use over and over. You can make a 3D spaceship, then place it on a 2D background. NASA does it all the time with the Hubble photos.

        • Oh, I do — but I haven’t had the time to learn all the tricks, so I play with the ready made stuff. (though someday I should take a week(end or more) and try to map out the ship in my tall tale. 😉

  4. While designing my own e-book cover, it was both enjoyable and useful to read one professional’s comments about other authors’ covers. He’s not always consistent regarding what he thinks works and doesn’t work, but his opinions are worth thinking about.

    Go here to find the archive of links to the monthly “E-book Design Awards” (by Joel Friedlander), in effect since Aug. 2011:

    http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2011/08/monthly-e-book-cover-design-awards/

    Go here to see the most recent awards (for e-book covers submitted in October):

    http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2015/11/e-book-cover-design-awards-october-2015/

    • This is a good website. Joel’s comments on the covers are always interesting, even if I don’t agree with him or understand what he’s seeing. But usually I get it. Still not up to being able to articulate for myself why I do or don’t like a cover though. Especially if the issue is font related.

  5. I enjoy making covers. I like to get the cover done early on in the process, and often refer to it as I’m cycling through in my writing. It helps to anchor me in the story.

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