Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Designing Covers

It took years of working at writing before I began to feel somewhat competent at it, so I imagine it would be the same for learning how to design a good book cover. I don't have that kind of time, nor do I have the patience. So all of my efforts so far to design my own book cover and potentially self-publish my first novel The Shard, are not going so well.

Here are a couple of the many samples I have done:
Artwork by AndrĂ¡s Orr
Art by Shane Tyree
To my amateur eye they don't look terrible, but they do look a bit amateurish also. Even worse, when you reduce them to the size they might appear on sites like Amazon, they don't have nearly the clarity that you see on other such covers that you see. Everything I read says the text must be clear and easy to see when reduced to Amazon size. Sigh, I just don't have this kind of expertise, and I'm not yet ready to break down and pay a bunch of money to a professional!


  1. Try to focus on one strong element of the story and use that for the cover. These covers clearly indicate that this is fantasy, or a medieval story, but don't tell us what the main idea of the story is (honor, a quest, etc)

    (show us a sword, a dagger, a chalice, or whatever - see how that works) Just a suggestion. Good luck!

  2. I hear you, D.G., but I think I have different taste in covers than most people these days. Most covers I see now are really bad. I remember the great covers of long ago, such as Frazetta's work on the Conan novels. My preference is for the cover to show a scene from the story. Those types of covers always stood out for me.

  3. I really like the second one. I'd play around with that idea, maybe make the font larger so it stands out when small.

  4. Thanks, Alex. I worry over everything. Are the paintings good enough or do I need to keep trying more? I can't figure out how the designers get the fonts so nice. I like the look of some of the fonts I have found, but the colors from Photoshop seem to blah when I try them out, and the characters themselves don't have any life to them. I'm sure there are some amazing tricks the pros use on these things, but searching through articles online is maddening.

  5. The artwork is excellent. So is the font.

    What makes it look amateur is the color and above all PLACEMENT of the font. Don't shove it up against the top and bottom of the cover. The placement in the upper cover is especially harsh because cross the border makes it impossible to read.

    Keep in mind the rule of thirds. The title should be just above the two thirds line and the author's name should be just below the one third line.

    Choose a color which stands out but still blends with the cover--one of the shades from within the picture. Add a drop shadow to the lettering, and consider Bevel and Emboss as well.

  6. I don't know what most of that is, Tara, but I'll play around with it. When I used a font color that was in the artwork, the smaller name text seemed to fade into the picture too much, especially in thumbnails. That's why I'm trying to take the text outside of the artwork, as in the newer post...

  7. ok. am i the only one who ADORES the art in the top one? seriously, the frame doesn't do it for me... in the least, but the image is EXACTLY what my mind thinks of when i try to remember THE SHARD from the alzheimerish depths that is my memory.
    the second art is beautiful as well, but very monochromatic, and doesn't feel quite as fanciful in it's palette as the top one.
    i have a feeling that there is a simple fix for your resolution trouble. if you send me an email i can help you with that (quite likely).