Morning, folks! That’s right, Mondays on the blog are now officially Manic Mondays! That means anything goes, so hopefully it gives you a giggle on that most hated of all weekdays. Today we’re going to take a look at book covers, along with more gifs. Always the gifs.
Now, it goes without saying that you need to get a book cover professionally done when you write a book – and that doesn’t mean you need to spends hundreds of dollars or pounds, but simply make sure it’s done by someone who knows their way around photoshop AND knows what readers want to look for.
1. Have a clear idea of what you want.
As a cover designer myself, I’ve often been a little frustrated by authors coming to me with what I thought was a clear idea, and wanting it changed completely (not tweaked) halfway through. If you don’t have a clear idea, neither will your designer or your readers. Try taking a look at books in a similar genre to your own, and mark out what you like about different ones. This can help you to decide what you want on your own, and also let you see what’s popular.
2. Trust your designer
Once you’ve got a clear design in your head, and given a brief to your designer, you now need to be prepared for a few things to be tweaked. If they make suggestions of things they either wouldn’t do, or would change, listen to the ideas. They know what they’re talking about – they do this for a living! I’m not saying do away with your idea altogether. But a common issue, for example, is wanting a lot of stuff on your single cover. New authors especially can want this, as you feel the need to get across as much of the book as possible. But sometimes less really is more. Take note of your designer’s suggestions, remember your own design, and talk it out together to create the perfect mock up.
3. Avoid the clichés.
If I had a pound for every romance cover I’ve seen with a typical kissing couple, or a shifter book with a semi-naked man and wolf’s head on, I’d be a very rich woman indeed. Not only does it make your cover look like the other thousands of similar books out there, it looks as though you only gave your cover two seconds of your time. I’m not saying you can’t use these things. There are circumstances where they could be used in a very different way from usual, and it creates a fabulous cover. But for the most part, I would steer clear unless you’re 100% certain. Try picking something else out from your story that could be used – an object even, rather than people. Perhaps there is a particular piece of jewellery your main character wears? Do they have a penchant for that certain house? Maybe it’s a landscape that captures the feel of your characters. Think outside the box, and avoid doing what everyone else is doing.
4. Does it represent what happens in the book?
While you need to go outside the box, don’t forget it is that box that still defines your book, so don’t stray so far it’s unrecognisable. A sensuous, kissing couple surrounded by roses on a crime thriller is going to look very odd. The cover should attempt to be a 30 second pitch in one image. It doesn’t have to be the whole plot, or even a whole chapter, but it has to get the main thread across. Perhaps the whole book leads up to the reader finding out your main character is in fact a witch? In which case, it would be fine to have mystical symbols dotted around the image. Perhaps another angle is that someone holds a particular ring that can kill her? Maybe make the ring the focus, and stick to dark colours for the background, making the ring really glow or stand out in some way. It can be a punchy image, but it gets across what the book is about.
5. Make sure you like the final design
You’ve followed all the rules above, the mock ups have been tweaked within an inch of their lives, and the cover looks perfect. But do you like it? There’s no point having a cover that looks great, but you don’t like it – because you’ve got to market it. If there’s something you want tweaking with the final layout, tell your designer. If they’re a good cover designer, they won’t have a problem perfecting it for you, it’s what they’re there for!
6. Be prepared for change
No matter how much you love your cover, or how perfect it is, they do have a shelf life. (See what I did there? *giggle*) Think of any product you’ve ever bought, and especially any contemporary book. If you bought it more than a year ago, does the cover still look the same now? Two years ago? Chances are more likely it’s either had an update, or it’s changed altogether. This is because covers change to reflect adapting trends, or even because it’s slipping behind on sales – a refreshed cover can bring in fresh readers. I’m not saying change it every six – eight months – although if you’re doing your own covers and you’re able to do this, I say go for it – but aim to change the cover every few years at the very least. You might just be surprised how much it can give a lift to a book.
Click here to see my own cover designs, and even consider purchasing one from me. Whether you want one of my stock covers, or you want a brand new design from scratch complete with a trailer, you might just find what you’re looking for at Moon Rose Covers. www.moonrosecovers.com