Wednesday, June 1, 2011


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 or 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.

Jacqueline's home page


  1. I can vouch for ALL the above. Jacqueline TRANSFORMED the sad excuse for a cover,I had made, into what I think ,is a great series cover.

    Have a look at

    The new cover is directly responsible for the increase in ebook sales. As Jaqueline says, the thumbnails that Amazon show, have to capture the imagination, instantly.

    GREAT tip.

    Annabel Gold
    author :True Confessions :Phone-sex Fantasies Vols 1-8

  2. Good luck with sales Annabel!
    They are good tips for covers. I went the way of finding a photographer, a model and an art director and did a shoot over a weekend. Still had to rely on a cover artist to put the covers together. I did my own, but the publishing house has a policy of using their cover artist.
    I agree that the thumbnail has to be distinctive.
    You can see the covers at

  3. I can dig what you are saying. i'm going thru the process at the minute with two covers. For one - thankfully - i am lucky to have a great friend who has a genius for a husband. He rules photoshop and is making me a beautiful cover. The other I'm attempting myself. I'll post more about my covers as they become self aware.

  4. I have joined twitter
    THis is the new media and I hope to use it to promote my erotic stories. Takes a bit of work to set up who you follow and hope they follow you back.

    There are so many writers of explicit, sexy stories it will be interesting to see if this improves sales.

    If you have set up an authors page in Amazon, be sure to check that ALL the ebooks you have published are shown there. They had only listed Volume 1 of 'True Confessions : Phone-sex Fantasies" and not the following 7 volumes. After contacting support, it has now been rectified.

    See : Amazon's Complete List of Annabel Gold's Books

    Annabel Gold

  5. Hi Jacqueline,
    I think it is fun to create covers. I like to use my photographs and have made a few covers for my friend's books, most images she supplied We tried many combinations until we were both satisfied with the outcome. They look and feel fantastic as glossy covers on her published books.

    I even made an A4 cover for my printed ms before I submitted the ms to the publisher. I travelled to Switzerland with the specific view to take as many photos as possible that might have been useful for my cover. However the publisher's cover artist wouldn't look at my photos because the resolution was too small. She wanted nothing less than 300, preferably 600 res.

    So I was at the mercy of the cover art department. I'm thrilled with the cover Tiger Matthews devised. It is much better, more symbolic and enticing than what I would have come up with myself.

    Different avenues work best for different ventures. I agree with 'keep it simple' and the author really has to be ecstatic with the end result.

  6. Wendy, Do you have a link where we can see your cover? Please?

  7. Thanks Rosalie,
    my cover by Tiger Matthews from MuseItUp publishing is on my website -

    You can see the thumbnail ones I did for Laurel at Amazon here

  8. Congratulations Wendy, That is an awesome cover for Unhewn Stone. Simple and stunning. And a thumbnail will be eyecatching too. Your cover artist did well.
    Which of Laurel's books did you do covers for? There are lots!

  9. Sorry,
    'Crossroads at Isca' with a photo I took at Pompeii and 'Murder among the Roses' from a picture by Van Gogh which I made to look abstract. We did a new one for Danyari and Substitute Bride but they aren't there yet. Also 'My Japanese Grandmother' is another lovely cover we were happy with.