Today, I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about the making of a book cover.
Over and over, you will see those issuing publication advise telling you that authors SHOULD never, ever make their own covers. While I agree that some of the time that is true, it isn't always true.
Case in point, me. I'm not just an author. I have a degree in marketing and a background in graphic design. I live and breathe advertising and advertisements every day. If you don't have that background, then you certainly are better off paying someone to design your cover, and goodness knows there are plenty of affordable options out there now. Today, I want to talk about the making of the book cover for Into the Darkest Night, and I'll give a few tips to keep in mind when you're creating or selecting a book cover.
My design process:
1) Look at comps.
Head to a bookstore and/or online book retailer and start looking at covers in the genre. For Into the Darkest Night, I found a few that I really liked. The thing that stuck out to me about them was the use of double exposure and a darker color palette. They also used bolder fonts and less script. If I'm being honest, it was hard to find something that was a direct comparison to ITDN, which is a mix of comic-inspired and romance -- action and adventure. It still gave me a strong background in what I wanted, though.
2) Consider the series.
If your book is a series, it's important that you plan out the entire series to make sure your covers have a similar feel. While authors change their covers all the time, it impacts the books brand every time you do. Be sure that you consider the series in it's totality. For my Beautifully Flawed series, the tie in is the font on the covers and then the shift in the coloration of the books acts to set the feeling of each book. The first book is darker and more brooding and with each book, the colors lighten. This shows the progression of the novel. It's a minor detail, but it goes a long way. For the Chaos Theory Duet, IDTN being the first book, it's a dark series in general. Both covers are black and white and have double exposure. The second book is darker, as are the themes. Where you're just getting to know Ana and she's able to block out her past in the first novel, in the second, her memories come into play. The city also sinks deeper into darkness as well.
3) Consider your author brand.
Every single one of my books has my name in the same font. This sticks with my author branding. You'll also notice the placement of my name is different on my adult books vs. my young adult books. This is all on purpose. When you're selecting a cover designer, you should be cognizant of the designer's style. One thing I've noticed is that sometimes, covers scream the designer and not the author. What do I mean by this? The designer has a very specific style, and while beautiful, it's what all their covers look like. So, instead of the cover being your calling card -- it's the designers and readers may think that your book is someone else's that has used that designer.
4) Be careful with fonts.
There's a few things on this:
Don't use a generic over used font. For example, Jenna Sue is used everywhere nowadays. Also, if it comes with Word, don't use it! That means it's overly generic and most likely, not very pretty (think of Papyrus).
Make sure you have the right licenses. I use the site DAfont.com to get my fonts -- but you need to be sure that the fonts you download and use are free for commercial use. If you fall in love with a font that's not free commercially, you may be able to purchase it for a cheap enough price. For example, the script font on the Beautifully Flawed series is one that I purchased. I believe I made $50 with a coupon for the commercial license.
Don't use too many fonts. The worst thing you can do is get too fancy. I often mix fonts on my covers to add visual depth and appeal, but you have to be careful to not use too much.
5) Think of the cover spread.
If you will be publishing in paperback, you need to consider how the cover will play out across a landscape spread. This is why I always make sure my stock photographs are landscape. While you can certainly blend pictures to create a holistic feeling with a portrait positioned photo, it's more difficult and doesn't end up being seamless and clean.