from Jacqueline George
Just a few quick notes on creating covers. Firstly, I’m not a certified artist, graphic designer, web nerd or anything similar. (I am awaiting my certification as a complete nutter who sits at their computer writing books every day – it must be lost in the post.) So, there is no reason to respect anything below. They are just a collection of things I found out along the way.
1. The most important was that I am useless at selecting covers and titles that catch the readers’ fancy. Things that look good to me often flop badly. One way of getting around this is to make a series of thumbnail drafts of different covers, and invite web friends to choose the one they like best. Not infallible, but a good guide.
2. The second most important – KEEP IT SIMPLE! Someone pulling the cover up on their computer screen, or taking a book from a shop shelf, will give your creation only a quick look. They will not take the time to absorb any subtleties. Also, when your cover is displayed on Amazon, it will be as a tiny thumbnail – no subtleties there either. Before finally deciding on any cover, I reduce it on my computer screen to that small size and check if I can still read the lettering, and if the general idea still comes across. If it is too fussy, or does not have enough contrast, it will fail this test.
3. The cover sells an idea. It does not tell the story, so if you can find the perfect model but she has the wrong colour of eyes or hair, don’t worry about it. No-one else will. They are looking at the cover and gaining an impression of the delights within, and that’s what matters.
4. There is no substitute for using a good quality graphics program. I use Corel’s Paint Shop Pro. Adobe’s Photoshop is another. Neither of them will allow you to produce a brilliant cover on day one. You need to play around and learn how to translate your ideas into a high quality image, and that takes time. The results are well worth it. Once the graphics program had been paid for, I get exactly what I want very cheaply, and have even helped friends out now and again.
5. I like to use photo images as my cover backgrounds, and that immediately brings up copyright issues. Sometimes I can use photos I have taken myself, but mostly I use Shutterstock.com or Dreamstime.com. Dreamstime are good when you only want small images, such as the one above, because they charge less for small pics. That one cost $1.25 – cheap at the price. I do respect this copyright thing, because I sell ebooks and feel sensitive about thieving.
6. If an electrician comes to your house to fix something, he will be charging $50 per hour or more. If a graphic artist designs a cover for you, why should you expect them to charge any less? A complex layered image may take several hours and be a big dent in your budget. On the other hand something very simple, like the image above, will be finished in half an hour and you can do it yourself.
I hope those thoughts help. I’m sure I’ll think of a couple more as soon as I post this...
©Jacqueline George All rights reserved.
Jacqueline George lives in Cooktown, Far North Queensland. She enjoys the relaxed lifestyle there, and finds plenty of time write books, some of which are far too naughty for her own good.
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