Monday, 28 November 2016

Tip for Writers: #BookCoverDesign

I'm writing this post because of three reasons. First, ever since I revealed the rose motif covers of books 3 and 4 of my Poison Blood Series, comments have been flooding in about how cool they are. It reminded me that the covers for books 1 and 2 also received similar praise when they were first revealed in 2012.



I have a confession to make about these covers: Although I really like them, this design was not what I had in mind for these books. What I really wanted wasn't possible though. Not at that time. But I promised myself that I'd update the covers one day, with something that was close to what I'd initially hoped for. Of course life got in the way, and updating the covers to my vampire romance/paranormal romance/urban fantasy series had to wait. Wait a long time. Four years, to be precise.

Luckily, the simple covers didn't hinder downloads too badly (books 1 and 2 were downloaded over 30,000 with minimal promotion on my part - a few readers even purchased them with actual money from the Kindle store because I had been unable to make them free there), but I wonder if they would've been even more successful had the covers been better. Well, I'll find out soon enough because I finally updated the covers earlier this month. This is what they look like now:




Second reason for this post: I have experience of making my own book covers and using professionally produced ones (the below cover for Chasing Pavements, Soulmates Saga, Book 1 was designed by Peter at BespokeBookCovers.com), so I think I can offer a tip or two about the processes:



And third... You'll have to read to the end of this post to find out :) 

Funnily enough, the covers I made myself are the ones that seem to have grabbed everyone's attention (I didn't get any comments when I revealed the professionally designed cover for Chasing Pavements).

Anyway, book covers. DIY or hire a pro? If you have the funds - and are willing to spend those funds on professionally designed covers - then by all means hire a designer. They will do all the hard work for you, they have the software and experience, and you'll end up with a nice-looking cover

But choose your designer wisely. Shop around. Do your research. Read about their processes and look through their galleries on their websites. Make sure to read the small-print and see how many revisions/drafts they offer after first showing you what they've created. Some firms will only change the cover only one or two times. So, be careful there.

Now, the most important tips about the design of the cover:

IT SHOULD BE EYE-CATCHING.

IT SHOULD MAKE READERS PICK UP YOUR BOOK TO READ THE BLURB.

For e-books, your cover SHOULD MAKE CUSTOMERS STOP SCROLLING DOWN THE SITE WHEN THEY SEE IT AND CLICK ON THE LINK THAT LEADS TO THE BLURB OF YOUR BOOKS.

IT SHOULD MAKE CLEAR THE GENRE OF THE BOOK, but it's not supposed to tell the story (that's a job for your blurb).

The cover should do the hard work and take readers to the next segment of the sales pitch - the blurb. The cover is the most important part of the pitch, because if it doesn't do its job - grab the attention of the browsing customer - then you don't have anyone looking at the blurb. You might have a really good novel, an excellent blurb, but who'll know about it if your cover doesn't stop readers and entice them to learn more about your book?

So, when you approach designers to make you a cover, I'd advise you to NOT ASK THEM TO MAKE THE COVER OF YOUR DREAMS, the cover you've always pictured in your head. Because, let's face it, we think about the cover of our book while writing/editing them, and we usually picture a specific scene from the book on the cover, almost like a film poster. But to an unsuspecting reader, scenes from the story mean little to them, because THEY HAVEN'T READ YOUR BOOK YET. They won't get it. They don't need to get it. They just have to like your cover enough to go on and read the blurb.

And KEEP CHANGING THE COVER UNTIL IT STARTS WORKING FOR YOU. I don't mean change it every day/week/month, but every few months if it seems like its not atttracting readers.

That might be a bit pricey though, if you're hiring a designer to continually create new cover art for you. Luckily, there are plenty of sites that have very reasonably priced ready-made covers for you to choose from. You just pick the one you like (PICK THE MOST EYE-CATCHING OF ALL, PROVIDED IT SUITS THE GENRE), e-mail them the text you want on the cover (i.e. book name, author name, series name, tag-line etc.) and they make the quick edits and send you the finished product. You might end up with your brand-spanking new cover within a few hours. How awesome is that?

Whatever avenue you take, remember one thing:

YOUR BOOK COVER SHOULD HELP SELL YOUR STORY, NOT HELP TELL YOUR STORY.

Now, some more tips on book cover design, these slightly more specific.


Cover Concept ~ Keep it Simple

For my first vampire romance/urban fantasy book, Poison Blood, Book 1: Revelation, I chose the image of a black rose, which represents death and re-birth. 

Vampires are humans that die and are re-born as immortals, and this book looks at how the main character Ellie became a vampire, so the black rose symbolism was perfect

I also wanted some blood on the cover. So I added a spot of blood dripping from the rose. And that was my simple cover concept.

TIP: If you go with flowers, butterflies, trees, things that vary in size and colour, you can continue with those in your covers for the sequels, changing the variety, colour etc. each time. Which is exactly what I did for the Poison Blood covers!


The Right Font for The Genre

The title of the book should fit in with the whole cover, and it shouldn't take the focus away from the key image in the cover. More than anything, it should communicate to readers the genre of the book. Finding the right font is tricky (for me anyway) and it really depends on how it looks with the cover as a whole. 

In my rose motif PB covers, I used two different types of fonts, which isn't uncommon. Usually, the author name will be a different, simpler, cleaner font to the book title. I used the same font (a slightly fancy one, but not too over the top) for author name and book sub-title, and a simpler, bolder font for the main part of the title. Ideally, the author name should be simpler and different to the font used in the book title, but I think I just about got away with it there :)


And the BIG Reveal...

The third reason I decided to write this post on book covers is.... drum-roll please....

I've given the Soulmates Saga book covers a make-over! Again. Why? Many reasons, mainly I just want to try something new and take the advice that I've given on book cover design in this post. I've done the whole 'film poster' design for this series and it's out of my system. Now, I just want a simple design that makes clear the genre of the books and fits in with covers in this genre. So here they are:







 

I hope this post has been useful in some way or another. Good luck with getting your covers right, whether they're DIY or pro.


Thank you for reading this post. If you're interested in my debut novel, click the image below to learn more about it:
 


Like all my other books, it's also available on:
iBooks   |   B&N Nook   |   Kobo |   Smashwords 


Book Details

Length: 110,000 words
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Clean Romance / Diverse Romance / Interracial Romance / Romantic Drama / Women’s Fiction

Mood: Inspirational / Feel Good / Coming of Age / Dark
Content: Sexy but No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: New Adult & College / Adult / Female Readers

Recommended for: Readers that enjoy romance novels with serious issues and characters with depth. This is a story about life, love, friendship, family, music, art, destiny and soul mates.


And the first two books in my urban fantasy/paranormal romance series, the Poison Blood series, can be downloaded for free via:

Amazon USAmazon UK|   iBooks US & UK   |   B&N Nook Store   |   Smashwords



PB1 Book Details

Length: 29,000 words
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Vampire Romance / Paranormal Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Science Fiction & Fantasy

Mood: Dark / Humorous / Coming of age
Content: No violence / No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: Teen / Young Adult / New Adult / Adult
Recommended for: Readers that love all things vampires, slayers and witches!