COVER ME CRAZY
My next book is with the editor. This story gave me a difficult time, so the fact that I can cheerfully share with you that it is now in the editor's safe hands is a personal feat. As I wait, I find myself fiddling with various plots for the next novel, working on a host of ideas already formulating, and of course, doodling a plethora of concepts for my next book cover. Truth be told, nothing does it for me more than seeing a book cover finally come to fruition. It is the single most visible telltale sign that a book is close to completion and will formally have a home and name.
However, don’t be fooled. Covers aren’t easy, and they can, without a doubt, make or break a book. Sure, we all like to say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, but we don’t really mean it. It’s exactly what we do, and the quicker we own up to it, the better. And maybe, with books only, that’s not such a bad idea. Then again, how many written masterpieces have had covers that look like rot? Too many to count I’m afraid, but they still sold. For whatever reason, the important content inside was able to push past the first visual litmus test, but trust me when I say that isn’t always possible. Therefore, what I am saying isn’t necessarily an all-or-nothing sentiment, but one that most certainly challenges me personally to put forth a product that is written beautifully and presents itself as artistically alluring.
Picking A Cover Designer
Selecting the right cover designer to bring your work to life is imperative. Some designers favor certain genres over others while others have a proclivity towards a set artistic style so take the time to look over their portfolios. Many are available online or can be appreciated through the work already published. Also-If you see a cover that knocks your socks off, inquire as to who did the cover. Who knows? You may have found a match made in heaven.
How To Work with a designer
Cover me crazy, but nobody enjoys being micro-managed. It’s terribly annoying and unproductive. A cover artist is no different. Each must be given ample space to do what it is they do best without constant interference or nitpicking suggestions, but at the same time been given enough pertinent information about the story to create a cover that is both meaningful and exciting. This is a delicate balance of displaying the visual essence of what is to come when one opens the pages and begins their reading adventure.
I’d like to believe I’m pretty easy going in regards to how I work with my cover designers. I do my homework before reaching out to anyone. I give many months’ worth of thought about exactly what mental pictures I have had rummaging around in my head...and I try my hand at coming up with an expanse of ideas; sketching them roughly on paper, photographing my drawings and then writing about what this cover needs to convey to represent this particular storyline and why. Nothing exceptionally long, –who has time for that, but a paragraph or two.
Along with the sketches, I send the back blurb, the synopsis and additional photographs hopefully to support the image I am aspiring to describe, again in the hopes this information gives the designer a mental picture of where my mind is going.
***, Please note, this accumulated and thought-over collection of material is provided only to assist my designer to understand better what I want and my book’s story. The actual artistic rendition of these ideas is in their ball court.
Then guess what I do next?
Come on, –take a guess…
That’s right, –I leave the designer blissfully alone. I shut up. I resist the urge to ask a thousand and one questions. I don’t text or email messages unless I am specifically asked something or requested to look at a design for approval, feedback or for modifications.
Why? –Because frankly, they need to digest and process all the information being thrown at them. They need time to allow their brains room to invent and travel. Again, nobody wants to be pestered into performing or creating. I know that when I dump my pile of goodies on my cover designer, ideas that took months for me to formulate to exude my visions, I can’t then turn immediately around and expect to quarterback them. That will drive them bonkers!
It’s also not fair or professional, –especially if I wish my book covers to become not only artistically vibrant, but also marketable, because no matter how lovely the art is- no matter how beautiful, the bottom line never changes. ---The cover has to be able to help sell the book. It needs to be able to grab the limited attention of the buying public within a few precious seconds and scream; You Want Me, –you need me, I’m the book for you…take me home and love me.
Now some author friends I know are not only amazing writers but also covers designers. I hate them…No, not really, but I am terribly jealous, but purely in a saccharine and fan-like way. That’s incredible talent. Talent I, unfortunately, do not share and so when it comes time to designing a cover, I go on an expedition for ideas, which can include a myriad of various venues. Let me share a few...
1. Firstly, I talk the ear off of my close circle of writer-author friends to share my vision. I then carefully watch their body language for signs of approval or disdain. Usually a mixture of both. Sometimes hysterical laughing and at other times sheer disbelief. It’s all good. ;)
2. Next, I talk to my close circle of fantabulous, not-shy reader friends looking for the same reaction. And let me share something with you, –if you surround yourself with people who are honest with you, please cherish them. Don’t browbeat them or explain to them how what they are saying is wrong about your valuable ideas…spare them and everyone else.
My crew won’t hesitate to tell me in a heartbeat what they think and, as a matter of fact, they couldn’t give a hoot how I feel, because from the very start I told them not to. That’s right, –I begged for them to be brutally honest with me because honest feedback is invaluable.
3. Then I hit the Internet to look for images, ---only to look, not TAKE. Taking is stealing. Looking is appreciating. Big difference. Never take, only purchase. You can go on Pinterest and make a vision board but be sure to give credit for the photos or links. When it’s time, and you have decided on exactly the pictures, go to the sites that sell the images and pay for them. Yes, surprise! They cost money, but don’t we all want to be paid for the work we do?
4. I will also study book covers written in my genre, what I like, what I don’t. I take copious amounts of notes. I check to see where author names have been placed, the fonts used, and how the cover art extends to the back of the book without being intrusive to the necessary blurb information. I even glimpse the spines. The size of the book is also important to me. If possible, I’ll even open the book up to see how the fonts and fleurons are applied inside to see if they match the art on the cover. The whole package.
5. Lastly, I’ll gather up all my ideas, sketches, photos, etc. and send them to my designer. While some designers like to chat about the cover with their clients to get a feel for what their author wishes, others may prefer emailing back and forth. Others like mine say nothing. He receives my email, my descriptions, and the whole deal and then I won’t hear back from him for a few days or even weeks. Not a peep. I try not to panic. I know he is doing his thing…and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere I’ll get a message to check out the first design or two. And like MAGIC- the designs are always SO amazingly close to exactly what I begged for… I mean asked for. I don’t know how he does it…
At this point, I again reply back in as a succinct way as possible what changes I see needing moving forward, but within this answer, I also let my designer know exactly what works and what I don’t want to be changed. I think that’s equally as critical. These parameters allow the designer to envision where your mind is at without ridding the elements that already speak to that vision.
Don’t act petty…
I should also probably mention at this point that cover designers, as artists expect to get paid. What???? –I know, shocking, right? So my suggestion is this: Before working with a designer, know your budget. Don’t barter down the designer. If they are within your financial plan, fine, beautiful, you’re in business. If not, then find someone else who is. Don’t agree to something you can ill afford, get the artwork finished and then renege. That’s totally unprofessional and downright fiendish.
Also, don’t insult the artist by debating them on their price margins. That’s their business, not yours. They have their price and again, if it meets your budget- great, if not, say thank you anyway and move on. Don’t make your lack of funds their problem. This is their business. They don’t need to hear about your car needing a new battery or wheel alignment, or the fact that so-and-so only charges this or that amount. Stop it! You’re an author for goodness sake! We already know how much it hurts when the buying public thinks we should undercharge for our art, why then do it to someone else? This sentiment of mine includes editors and proofreaders as well. They have a right to be paid so pick wisely and according to your budget.
However, IF by chance the stars in the sky align in your favor, and you do happen to find someone willing to do your cover for free or close to it, then make sure to at least offer up your first-born grandchild. Kidding, but really, do remember to do something nice in return. Give them credit, pass their name around as they build up their resume…Cover art is work. It takes time. It takes putting up with YOU. That alone is worth a meal or a box of chocolates and a huge thank you.
There's another option: PREMADE book covers by some incredible designers. Often budget friendly and wickedly nice. Here's a few companies to get you started on your search. ;) These suggestions are not an endorsement.
Star Bound Books:
WEBSITE: www.StarBoundBooks.weebly.comFACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/starboundbooks
Wicked Book Covers
WEBSITE: www.wickedbookcovers.comFACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/wickedbookcovers
WEBSITE: www.madhatcovers.comFACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/madhatcove...
So, as I already mentioned, my next book is with the editor. Then it’s off to find a publisher again. Perhaps, this time, I will publish this baby on my own. Who knows? All I do know for sure is that my goal is to get the books I create out to you in a timely and professional manner, looking fabulous on the outside while reading gorgeously on the inside.