Friday, July 10, 2015

Planning Your Cover

Sara Vanderbush, my cover model for "The Comanche Girl's Prayer." Photo by Cherie Haines
As someone who has been a part of the Indie writing world for almost four years, I have learned a thing or two about book covers. The first thing is; I can't design them. I can design greeting cards, t-shirts and coffee mugs (anyone who is curious can see our Zazzle shop here) But I've tried, and it isn't my cup of tea. I am striving to NOT get my book covers on this site. 

Every genre is going to require a cover with a unique feel, composition and flavor. You wouldn't have a cartoon cat on the cover of a thriller, for instance. Here are some tips to help you with your cover planning and design.

1. Set a budget. If you are writing a book for family and friends, then you might just want to use one of your own snapshots and slap some font on it. But if you want people to take your book seriously, you should as well. My covers have cost me between $10-$170.00, and they have been worth every penny. 

2. Decide on a concept. One good way to do this is to check out Amazon listings for books in your genre. What are the top sellers? Do they use high-colored graphics? Photographs of people? Of course, you want your book to be different, but you also want people who are looking for your kind of book to want to buy it because it strikes a familiar chord with them. If you have written a clean romance, you will not want nearly-naked people on the cover. People who are looking for clean romance will look elsewhere.

3. Decide on your concept art. If you want a painting or drawing, and know a very good artist, great! But make sure you have seen their work and know the caliber of what they can do. Nothing says 'amateur writing' like amateur cover, and having to say no to someone who has spent a lot of time and effort is hurtful to both. 
If you want a photograph, I strongly suggest you figure out a way to use original photographs and not stock art. Countless authors (myself included) have had the unpleasant surprise of finding our cover art on someone else's cover. Yes, it's wayyyyy cheaper, but prepare yourself. Consider doing your own photo shoot with a model and a photographer. We had a lot of fun putting mine together and they turned out better than I could have ever dreamed. If you decide to do your own, remember, it's a photograph. If you're doing a historical, every detail has got to be right.

4. Find a graphic design artist. Even if you have a great original work of art, you still need someone to help with font and placement. 

5. There are also graphic design artists who have pre-made covers. You pick out the one you want, and they put in your title and name. How easy is that? Louis Wrift has some great stuff here:

Jimmygibbs on Fiverr has done some great ones for me, for 5.00!

My aunt, Connie Haines, painted these two: 

And my latest one was my original concept. My sister, Cherie Haines, took the photograph, and Elaina Lee of created the cover and did the font design. 

All of the covers have taken time and care, and many of them are the second or even third designs I have used. But I'm happy with them, and none of them have bankrupted me. If you would like to look at the photographs for my next cover, you can find them here:
If you are interested in reading any of the books here, you can find them on my Amazon author page. (two are free!)

Follow up: Just wanted to post the finished product:

I would love to hear any of your thoughts or hear your cover stories in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I'm impressed with what $5 can buy. But, the Texas Women of Spirit covers are exceptional.

    How many hours do you usually invest in them, and how many days does it take to get a finished product?