Let’s Look at Working with Covers
Covers! Let’s say you aren’t working with a cover artist. Or maybe you are doing the covers work, and you have purchased the work and been given full rights to it, to do with it as you please. Or maybe your work is not selling, and you are looking to make your own cover or covers (perhaps with a unified theme). Not to worry.
Making Your Own Covers (10 rules)
So you might find that this is the way to go. Also, this can be an option if you are a decent photographer or cannot afford a cover artist. However, seriously consider a cover artist just the same. Or try Fiverr if you’re really stuck!
But let’s say you are bound and determined to create your own cover art.
- First of all, do yourself a favor, and use a program designed for this purpose. This means Adobe Photoshop or Adobe InDesign, or Gimp. Please don’t use Paint. This is because you just won’t have the options you would with these other programs I’ve listed.
- Go simple. Why? Because busy covers look terrible online, and they usually don’t look so hot in bookstores, either. Consider a main element from your story and go with that as your image. The Twilight novels use this to stunning effect.
Use the Right Images
- Use images which you have permission to use, always! Just because you can right-click on an image does not mean you have permission to use it. Here are three ways to assure you have permission to use an image:
- Take the picture yourself.
- Buy it from someone! Also, don’t forget to have a written agreement with them for usage. And you may need to attribute them in some manner.
- Get it from a friend or relative who has taken it. Yet again: don’t forget to have a written agreement with them for usage.
- Don’t use a model unless you get a model release.
Working With Images
- Start with a big image. Scaling it down is possible. Scaling it up will result in a loss of quality.
- Consider what the image will look like if it any part of it is cut off. This is another argument in favor of simplicity.
- Consider what the image will look like on mobile devices. Most of us access the internet via our phones at least some of the time. Ignoring what your cover looks like on a phone or tablet is an exercise in losing sales.
- Never, ever use the word ‘by‘ unless you are referring to an ‘edited by‘ line. Otherwise, just use your name as the author name. Don’t believe me? Go to a bookstore or Amazon and look at what’s out there.
Fonts and Verbiage
- If the title is in serif font, use sans-serif for your name, and vice versa, unless you are using the exact same font. E. g. don’t use two different serif fonts. They’ll look mismatched.
- Also, make sure your verbiage (title and author name) is readable! This means size and color, and sometimes outlining. Usually it helps if your image is more or less all one color or at least one color tint, tone, or shade. That, is make it all bright or all pastel or all muted, as that will make it easier for the verbiage to stand out and be readable.
Finally, practice! You aren’t going to turn out a great cover without knowing your program well.
Creating your own covers is very possible, and some people become very good at it. You can potentially become one of those people by keeping things simple and following the cover conventions of your genre. A romance novel cover does not look like a science fiction novel cover. Don’t try to fit that square peg into a round hole.
You can do it!