Covers

Ideas for Book Covers

28 February 2019

Covers are a recurring topic for indie authors.

Perhaps the most important means of stopping a reader browsing on Amazon and persuading them to look more closely at a book is the cover.

PG has noted that in some genres, many of the covers look the same.

There can be a perfectly good reason for this. Nothing says Zombie! like a decaying hand.


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or someone enjoying a light snack.
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However, it can be easy to get into a visual rut.

In PG’s experience, many people don’t know that Adobe has a website to help people who use its software show their accomplishments to the world.

PG searched Bēhance for book covers and discovered far more original cover designs than he ever sees on Amazon.

Following is a small sample. Click on the image for a larger version.

You can all of the images are subject to the artist’s copyright.

PG has inserted a link to the artist’s page on Bēhance above each image.

Artist

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 Artist

Artist

Artist

Artist

Artist

 

Link to the rest at Bēhance

US Book Covers vs. UK Book Covers for 2018

10 February 2019

From The Literary Hub:

Over any given year, those of us in the literary media see hundreds of books pass by. Some of their covers are great, some mediocre, some simply odd, but the ones we remember from the pack tend to be either the most unusual or the most repeated. So one of my favorite exercises after a year of covering and reading about books is to shake up my memory and see how the covers I’m familiar with looked in other countries. Since big books are often published concurrently (or at least closely together) in the US and the UK, I thought I would compare some of my favorites here, and even dare to choose which one I like better.

On that note, please bear in mind that I am an American writer and reader, and therefore US book covers are made for people like me—but also bear in mind that I may have gotten bored with the American covers, and the UK ones have that sparkly new quality that makes me like them better.

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Winner: These covers are so different in tone that it’s really hard to choose. I love the audacity of the UK cover, especially with the backward text, which is something I could easily see an over-cautious publicity department nixing. But as far as which one has the potential to make me cross the room to pick it up? I suppose that would have to be the US cover—though I’m a devoted Mendelsund fan, so take it with a grain of salt.

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Winner: Ditto above. The office was split—lots found the UK cover more interesting, complex and compelling, but I always go in for simplicity, and the purity of that juicy yellow on the US cover… Can’t beat it.

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Winner: This is an interesting one: I like all the elements of the US cover better—the hand painted lettering, the impressionistic face—but I think the overall impression of the UK cover is more striking. It looks more like a Big Serious Novel, but more importantly, it invites the viewer to pick apart all of its patchwork slices to find meaning.

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub

 

Welcome to the Bold and Blocky Instagram Era of Book Covers

2 February 2019


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From Vulture:

If you’re looking for the most anticipated books of 2019, chances are your search will start with Google and end at Amazon. Chances are even better that one book cover will consistently jump off the screen: Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf, its graphic white title entwining with a writhing, jewel-toned print of a shape-shifting beast. This first book in the Booker Prize–winning author’s Dark Star trilogy, a queer, Afrofuturist fantasy series, has already been called the “African Game of Thrones.” (Another tagline: the literary Black Panther.) It’s clearly being positioned by publishers and booksellers as a cultural icon, with a blazing cover to match.

Scroll on through the best-of lists and other titles will pop just as loudly: The title of Pitchaya Sudbanthad’s Bangkok Wakes to Rain gleams in gold letters over a drippy green abstraction of leaves. Helen Oyeyemi’s Ginger Bread shouts in bold yellow against a lightly ombré coral backdrop, its plane broken by a black crow grasping a gleaming tangerine. And Kristen Arnett’s Mostly Dead Things features a twisted, hand-drawn flamingo on a field of avocado green, with the title scrawled over it in what appears to be a fat white sharpie.

None of these titles is available yet, but anywhere you find them online will likely direct you to preorder on Amazon. [Ed.: Guilty.] In fact, their covers are designed to ensure that you will. At a time when half of all book purchases in the U.S. are made on Amazon — and many of those on mobile — the first job of a book cover, after gesturing at the content inside, is to look great in miniature. That means that where fine details once thrived, splashyprints have taken over, grounding text that’s sturdy enough to be deciphered on screens ranging from medium to miniscule.

If books have design eras, we’re in an age of statement wallpaper and fatty text. We have the internet to thank — and not just the interface but the economy that’s evolved around it. From the leather-bound volumes of old to lurid mass-market paperbacks, book covers were never designed in a vacuum. Their presentation had everything to do with the way books were made, where and how and to whom they were sold. And when you look at book covers right now, what you’ll see blaring back at you, bold and dazzling, is a highly competitive marketing landscape dominated by online retail, social media, and their curiously symbiotic rival, the resurgent independent bookstore.

Link to the rest at Vulture and thanks to DaveMich for the tip.

Pulp Classics

28 January 2019

PG just discovered Pulp Classics. Click on the covers.

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Link to the rest at Pulp The Classics

The care and feeding of your cover artist

26 August 2018

From Romance Rehab:

Authors need to foster a lot of relationships—relationships with their readers, book bloggers, their editorial staff, and their cover artist to name a few. Working well with your cover artist is hugely important, because after all, your cover is the first thing potential readers see.

So, assuming you don’t already have a cover artist you love and adore *bats eyes at my ridiculously patient cover artist* let’s look at how to find a cover artist.

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If you’re looking at indie publication, you’re gonna need a cover artist. Unless you’re already a Photoshop master. Those authors exist. I can think of three great ones off the top of my head. But, most of us don’t have that skill set.

So, how do you find a cover artist? First of all, get thee to Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or iBooks and start looking at book covers. Make a note of indie book covers you love. You can use the “look inside” function to scan the copyright page. Often, you can find the cover artist info right there. See if you can find at least 5-10 artists’ names you’d like to investigate a little further.

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Once you have your dream list of artists assembled, visit their business webpage, blog, and/or social media pages. If they have their rates listed, you can find out who’s in your budget and narrow your list accordingly. I’ve seen prices from $50 to $500 and everything in between. Some charge an hourly rate. If prices aren’t listed, you can always email them and ask.

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What are your rates?
Obviously, it’s best for both parties to know upfront if it’s financially feasible to work together.

Do you charge by the finished image or do you charge by the hour?
This is important to know up front, especially since the search for cover models can be a lengthy and tiresome one. And covers that incorporate a lot of layers to get the desired effect can also be time consuming.

Do you also make print flats, audiobook covers, 3-D images, banners, ads, social media graphics, etc.?
Sometimes, all you need is an ebook cover, but you may discover that you need additional images later on. You can ask if the artist has package prices for any of the above or if it’s more of an ala carte situation. It would also be a good idea to find out if they’d be willing to do any of the following in the future and if it would cost more to make it later than it would to make it now.

How many versions/tweaks of the cover do you allow before there’s an additional charge?
We’ll go into this in more depth a bit later, but authors that constantly want tweaks or complete do-overs can be a giant pain in the ass for cover artists to work with. And it’s important for both of you to know if there’s a limit for these things before beginning the cover art creation process.

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I’d like to take a minute to talk about talk about a few cover art related things you may not be aware of when you’re envisioning what you’d like to see on your cover.

  • The vast majority of cover artists don’t do their own photoshoots, they use what’s available at royalty-free stock art sites, like Deposit Photos, Shutter Stock, Dreamstime, Period Images for historical cover art and for fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, and sci-fi. Heads-up, specialty image sites tend to be pricier, and if you decide on images from a more expensive site, you should expect to be upcharged accordingly. (Links will be included in a list of resources at the end)So if the exact pose of the exact person or people you’re imagining doesn’t exist, your cover artist can’t make it exist. She can probably do wonders with Photoshop and manipulate things about the images you’ve decided on, but she (unless she’s a wizard, Harry) can’t create something from nothing.
  • You know those really fancy, intricate fonts you love? They may become virtually unreadable once they’re shrunk down to thumbnail size on a vendor’s site.
  • Dark colored cover art usually looks fine on the computer, but it doesn’t translate well to print format. It tends to turn out considerably darker and muddier, and often fine details are lost entirely.
  • Cover art is meant convey genre and evoke a mood enticing readers to buy a book. It’s not meant to be an actual representation of the characters or a scene from the book. I think a lot of times, authors get hung up on creating a visual representation on the cover of what they see in their heads.

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Don’t micromanage your artist’s process. 
Yes, this is your cover, and it’s important that you’re happy with it. But if your artist tells you that the cover will be too busy if you have a winter skating scene, an ambulance, the hero and heroine, Chinese lanterns, a hedgehog, and the series logo, you need to understand that this cover is going to be a train wreck and look amateurish.

Link to the rest at Romance Rehab and thanks to Joel for the tip.

Everyone Judges a Book By Its Cover—So Choose Wisely

8 June 2018

From Publishers Weekly:

We all know how the saying goes: never judge a book by its cover. As broad-stroke life advice, it works. But readers rarely follow it when deciding which books to buy.

If a book’s cover art involves human models, the author may be on especially slippery ground. The perfect-looking people speak to someone, but to whom? Common wisdom advises authors to broadcast genre and win new readers through halting visuals. Yet the fact that we are not all intrigued by the same kinds of people makes the use of humans on covers problematic. If cover models alienate me, I won’t buy the book.

I’m not kidding. I don’t care how many people are talking about a book. I don’t care about five-star reviews. I don’t care if I love the blurbs, or how badly I’m dying for a great romance read—I won’t buy it.

I swear, I’m not a narcissist. It’s not about needing to see some mirror image of me. It’s not about me being black and wanting to find more African-American fiction. I dislike full-face images of humans on covers, no matter their ethnicities, genders, or body types. Stories hold greater appeal if I’m given the leeway to interpret characters through my own imagination. Seeing cover images that are highly specific limit a story’s potential for me.

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I’ll stop long enough to acknowledge that there’s a market for model-heavy covers, and for stories with correspondingly idealized worlds. Among a certain demographic, these books are popular. But how many more copies could be sold without fully visible cover models? How many readers care more about compelling characters who form in their minds than about defined, idealized character images?

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Even in my genre (romance), in which cover models are pervasive, some of the most iconic books avoid full faces, and people, altogether. Christina Lauren’s Beautiful Bastard, Alice Clayton’s Wallbanger, and even E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey signal genre without being overly specific.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Why are middle-aged women invisible on book covers?

25 May 2018

From The Guardian:

Here’s a challenge for you: find a book jacket that features an image of a woman over 40.

My own hunt – as yet unsuccessful – was prompted by the actor and novelist Barbara Ewing, whose novel about a drama-school reunion, The Actresses, has just been reissued. Ewing says she cried when she first saw the cover of the 1997 edition – although it focuses on women over 50, the jacket image was a close up of a young woman’s face. This time around, she and publisher Head of Zeus have gone for an elegant photograph of a silver-haired woman that measures up perfectly to the book’s protagonists. But Ewing says bookshops aren’t interested.

It seems the book world doesn’t think readers want to see women of a certain age on their novels – even if that is precisely what the books are about. Take a look at some literary novels about older women – Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, Elena Ferrante’s The Story of the Lost Child, Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread, Carol Shields’ Unless – and you’ll see a lighthouse, two children wearing fairy wings, a young couple in a car and a child standing on her head.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

PG says this is yet another reason for becoming an indie author.

Sell More Books With These Critical Cover Rules

28 February 2018

From Author Marketing Experts:

Almost every author that reaches out to me wants to sell more books, so you’re not alone. But surprisingly, aside from doing no marketing, the number one hurdle is often the book cover design.

Unfortunately this is a much more common problem for indie authors because we’re left to our own devices, we don’t have a publishing house making expert recommendations  to a team of in-house professional designers.

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Your book cover needs to be clear, concise, and easy to read.

Yes, you may have a great review and you may think slapping it on the cover will help you sell more books. But if you can’t incorporate it in an visually appealing way, it will just detract from your book marketing efforts.

Same goes for photographs. I’ve worked with a lot of authors that bring some great personal photographs to the table, but they don’t translate into a powerful book cover.

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This is a great example of a clear, concise, easy to read cover:

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Book marketing in this day and age is about being savvy online, and your book cover is no exception.

So if you want to sell more books you need a book cover that’s been designed for online shopping.

Yes, your original design may look good as a full sized PDF on your computer, but shrink it down to an Amazon-sized thumbnail before making final decisions.

Link to the rest at Author Marketing Experts

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