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Erik M
11-17-2010, 08:00 AM
This specifically goes out to those of you who have self-published. How did you get your cover? Did you do it yourself? Hire someone? What programs did you use. Did it feature artwork? Photography? Something else? Were you happy with it?

Other than two short stories in e-format, I have not self published, but am considering it. Being a writer and not an artist and not really a computer wiz, the cover is a concern. I recently downloaded a trial of InDesign from Adobe and so far have been having a tough time using it, though I I understand that it is pretty widely used and highly regarded.

I have thought about hiring someone. If anyone has gone this route, where did you find your artist and did you like the result?

I have done quite a bit of research to this point in case I go this way, but would like to hear from some folks who have actually completed the process. And for the purposes of this thread, let's focus on covers for physical books, not e-books, as there is more to consider.

ResearchGuy
11-17-2010, 08:21 AM
I have created my own covers, with the aid of Photoshop Elements. Some used photos provided by the authors. One adapted from artwork provided by author for an earlier edition of the book (he had paid for the art and had rights to it -- but reproduction on my edition is of meager quality as I had to work from third generation copy at best). One used one of my own photos (of Calif. State Capitol). Some used clip art (from a collection I purchased with rights to make such use). All included text I added and formatted, and some amount of tweaking via Photoshop.

I could have done most of them better, and have learned along the way. A beady-eyed pro I know did not think much of covers I showed him except for one -- and oddly I thought that one probably would not rate very highly. He liked the color shading of that one (a Photoshop effect). Mostly, I did a poor job with the text on the covers. Readable, but looking pasted on. You can see some examples, FWIW, at http://stores.lulu.com/kenumbach .

--Ken

zpeteman
11-17-2010, 09:49 AM
I commissioned a local artist whose work I admired (she'd never done books before) and worked very closely with her to develop the design of both my covers. Note that this is probably only a good idea if you've already got a good sense of design. If that's not part of your skill set you are better off letting someone else make these kinds of decisions for you.

Do not take the design of your cover lightly and don't be cheap about it. A good cover sells books. I was at the Kentucky Book Fair this past weekend and noted repeatedly how differently people reacted to my book than to many others. Once they notice, they stop, they pick it up, they read the first page. Nine times out of ten, if I can get them to read that page, they'll buy the book, but the cover is what gets them reading in the first place. My covers were worth every penny.

Axler
11-17-2010, 04:27 PM
Agreed...an attention-grabbing cover might be your costliest investment, but it's definitely worth it.

With me, I worked in the comics field for several years and was acquainted with professional artists. For Cryptozoica, I collaborated with Jeff Slemons due in the main to his reputation as a dinosaur artist.

Ineti
11-18-2010, 01:35 AM
Dean Wesley Smith (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=2354) had a recent blog entry where he talks about how he did his covers.

I'd probably use some combination of public domain images, photoshop, and/or Powerpoint.

Erik M
11-18-2010, 05:23 AM
Thanks for the input. If I go this route (which seems likely at some point in the not too far off future) I think I am leaning toward commisioning someone. I am acquainted with some decent to good artists that I might be able to tap. For those of you who commisioned the artwork, what was the approximate cost. What kind of rights are involved with artwork?

zpeteman
11-18-2010, 06:56 AM
I don't want to give exact numbers but mine each cost upwards of $1000 and south of $2000. Bear in mind that there's a lot more to a well-designed cover than just the image on the front. Those numbers might sound high to you but I assure you, it's paid for itself many times over. Here's a look at the full spread:

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k221/zpeteman/coverspread-1.jpg

Axler
11-18-2010, 09:08 AM
I paid less than a thousand dollars for the wraparound cover to Cryptozoica...this is pretty much it in its final form, although the font for my name on the spine was changed before printing.

The cover also doubles as a print.

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc3/hs297.snc3/28509_1241084282252_1683663722_476772_2276271_n.jp g

Erik M
11-18-2010, 08:43 PM
Thanks both of you for sharing that. The covers look great by the way. Yes, I know the importance of a good cover and don't want to cobble something together in an hour. As I said, I have been doing quite a bit of research but there is nothing like input from folks who have actually been through the design process.

GradyHendrix
11-18-2010, 08:50 PM
I haven't read it, but that CRYPTOZOICA cover is hands-down the craziest book cover I have ever seen. I think I'm in love! All it needs is someone jumping a TransAm off one of those ruins and into a dinosaur's head and it would officially be The Best Book Cover in the World. Pulp-a-licious!

Axler
11-18-2010, 11:58 PM
Come to think of it...the story is like that, too.

Yeah, Jeff Slemons did an absolutely great job on both the cover and the interior illustrations.

kurzon
11-19-2010, 06:47 AM
There's a book which is used by artists called "Graphic Artists Guild Handbook : Pricing and Ethical Guidelines" which gives a great deal of information on both pricing for different sorts of art tasks, and also useful wording for contracts (which will also spark you into thinking about issues which may not have occurred to you beforehand). As a self-pub, you'd be coming in at the way lower end of the recommended prices, but it's definitely worth paying for something you'll be happy with.

My personal route (I have not yet self-published, but soon) was to post an ad in the Freelance work section over at ConceptArt.org (http://www.conceptart.org/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=12) (a site for artists of a similar nature as Absolute Write is to writers).

I chose to do the rest of the book design myself, since I've played with layout tools, etc, for quite some time, but if you're commissioning an artist, you could always include the rest of the cover design in with the artwork.

(Here's (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_ef_XPTy7UN8/TOPM52ratVI/AAAAAAAAABk/FHpVg0bSvIg/s1600/Champion+Cover+v1.jpg) one of my upcoming covers - a lovely picture.)

JRainey
11-21-2010, 07:23 PM
For These Hellish Happenings, I made the cover myself, but I don't recommend that to everyone; I have a decent background with photoshop, which is what I used, and if you don't know your image program well, stay away from it. The more intricate you want your cover to be, the more I'd say hire a professional, too. A cover is important, and you don't want it looking too amateurish or cluttered. Luckily, mine had to reflect the creepily sterile nature of the book's setting so it didn't need to be too ornate.

My advice is to make your cover something very distinct. Mine has a sort of... logo on the front, I suppose you could say (you can view it at the link in my signature), and in my marketing endeavors people have definitely taken notice of that logo. So if you can manage a cover that goes beyond the generic photo of a waterfall or something, it pays off.

Axler
11-22-2010, 12:20 AM
(Here's (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_ef_XPTy7UN8/TOPM52ratVI/AAAAAAAAABk/FHpVg0bSvIg/s1600/Champion+Cover+v1.jpg) one of my upcoming covers - a lovely picture.)

Yes it is...very nice, Andrea!

Margarita Skies
11-22-2010, 01:58 AM
I paid less than a thousand dollars for the wraparound cover to Cryptozoica...this is pretty much it in its final form, although the font for my name on the spine was changed before printing.

The cover also doubles as a print.

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc3/hs297.snc3/28509_1241084282252_1683663722_476772_2276271_n.jp g




NICE!!



...And I love the story line too. Where can I buy the book?

Axler
11-22-2010, 04:23 AM
...And I love the story line too. Where can I buy the book?

Well, you can buy it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble or Powells and various other places, like Things From Another World.

But, if you would prefer a personalized autographed copy, you can order it here:

http://cryptozoica.com/buy/

Heidicvlach
11-22-2010, 08:40 AM
My covers were worth every penny.

I agree! They look great and very professional.

Bicyclefish
11-24-2010, 05:31 AM
Thank you zpeteman -- love those covers -- and Axler for stressing the importance of a good design to catch the eye and mentioning approx costs. It frustrates me to no end when someone seeks cover artwork then balks when the price is a few hundred dollars when, as it's been shown, full rights can cost thousands.

Richard L. Sutton
11-26-2010, 09:30 PM
I've self published two novels over the past few years, and it has been one of the best learning experiences I could have asked for... or paid for. I guess I did pay for it, but as my pockets are shallow, it didn't cost even a quarter of what a course at the local University would have.
http://www.sailletales.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/theredgatebookcoversmall.jpg

http://www.sailletales.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/gatekeeperscover01med1.jpg

Cover design is an easy subject for me as I was more than 20 years in the trenches of advertising and corporate graphics. The nuts and bolts came easy, but the conceptual considerations that lead up to the actual design work, took longer than I expected. The first step was to get past thinking of my books as anything other than product/merchandise. Yep.

I took my experiences and put them into a primer form on the Indie Forum, Publetariat. Here's the link (http://www.publetariat.com/leveling-field-indie-curmudgeon/crafting-cover-do-it-yourself-sermon-two-or-three-parts), for those interested in pursuing self-designed book covers. Even if you're interested in paying a designer or illustrator, you should have an idea about what elements belong on a book cover and which don't. As an Indie Author, you won't have a well-meaning editor or publisher's art department looking after your best interests, you'll need to do that for yourself.

quickreaver
11-27-2010, 03:18 AM
Dean Wesley Smith (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=2354) had a recent blog entry where he talks about how he did his covers.

I'd probably use some combination of public domain images, photoshop, and/or Powerpoint.

I would disagree here, only because it is nigh impossible to figure out what images are truly in the public domain. It's surprising to me how many folks think just because it comes up on Google, it's free for the taking.

Buy stock photos! (Some are as cheap as $5-$6), but be sure you're purchasing the correct license for your use, as described at the stock site. Or, of course, take your own pictures.

Depending upon your genre, you may not have the luxury of using inexpensive stock photos (scifi/fantasy, for instance.) The person above who used ConceptArt.org did a brilliant thing. There are some amazing artists hanging out there. E-published covers will cost you far less than full wrap-arounds but expect to pay at least $200. Anything less is kind of insulting, unless you just want to slap a photo up there with some basic fontwork.

I do covers, and I charge my private clients $300 on up. (I include the fontwork and perhaps some small marketing bits, like a banner or button.) It's really cool to see authors valuing their covers so highly! High-five, gang!

Axler
11-27-2010, 05:05 AM
In my opinion--and here I'm in agreement with A.S. Peterson--nothing screams "amateur!" louder than a stock photo image for the cover of a novel.

It's different with non-fiction I suppose, but I wouldn't recommend a photograph as a cover image for a work of fiction.

My opinion, worth exactly what you paid for it.

Richard L. Sutton
11-27-2010, 07:20 PM
I'm surprised to hear your opinion regarding fiction covers. I believe that fiction books, more than any other type of book -- and here I mean paper, printed books -- need an arresting cover to market themselves properly. Fiction titles alone do not always convey the content, so a careful mix of information and graphic tools is needed to attract and set a mood for the reader.

Book covers are merchandising. Packaging. They need to pull the eye in and then create a need in the reader, to pull it out of the stacks and open it up. Once it's in the hand, the sale has begun. In advertising, it was determined back in the 1950s that glossy color photography is a great motivator and connection tool. Book jackets, for hardbound, and covers, for paperbacks are how the connection is made.

If you are writing non-fiction, then the chances are your market will be directed to your book along with a few other competing titles int he stacks, which are organized by subject. With fiction, all you've got is the book cover and the author's name. If it's a debut work, then the cover is the only thing you've got to reach the reader, besides the social and media PR you've been doing.

Stock photography can play an important role in cover design. It doesn;t mean there will be no creativity in the results. Photos can be cropped, flipped, re-colored, set up as grayscale with a color element, etc., etc. Two covers using the same image don;t have to look the same, or tired, or like boilerplate. That's the mark of good design, to create something unique, and in the cover for a fiction book, I believe that is critical.

IMHO, of course.

Axler
11-27-2010, 09:35 PM
That's the mark of good design, to create something unique, and in the cover for a fiction book, I believe that is critical.

I agree.

But there are photo covers...

http://www.publishamerica.net/media/9781451234350.jpg

And there are photo covers.

http://www.jamesaxler.com/DesktopModules/Catalog//Images/e640c871-bbd5-452f-a764-090f780c003f.jpg

Disregarding for the moment that I wrote Talon and Fang and provided the cover artist with the basic concept and other design elements, I believe I'm being fairly objective by opining that one photo cover screams "Amateur!" and the other does not. Going with a slightly-altered font instead of a designed logo doesn't help the "effect" of The Eden Effect much, either.

If you're self-publishing a novel, I feel that an attention-grabbing cover is probably your most important investment. Using a stock photo image isn't going to accomplish much of anything except maybe save you a few upfront bucks which could cause you lose a considerable number of down-the-road sales.

As whacked-out as the Cryptozoica cover might be, it does do its job--it grabs attention and gets people wondering what the book is about.

Richard L. Sutton
11-27-2010, 09:47 PM
Illustration can be great, especially for more contemporary/urban or fantasy/scifi work. On the other hand, if a photo can set a mood through connection with the subject as well as the reader, then it can work, too. Different reader demographics, especially age and ethnicity will have a lot to do with what kind of graphics will do the best job attracting. Bookseller's reactions are very important, too. I posted the covers for my first two above, and they have actually been sold to booksellers on basis of their covers (and cover pitches) alone. Neither one uses the stock image(s) the way they were purchased. Another good use of stock photography is as a background reference for illustration, for the times when illustration is the only way to create the right mood or setting.

Oh, I should add that I agree, that the top of the two covers you posted is really... shall we say, less than effective design. For me, it makes me want to look away, and the word genesis in the title does not in any clear way identify with the image, so whatever idea was supposed to be communicated is lost. On me at least. You don't have a lot of time, usually, to make your pitch connect, so Indie authors really need to pay attention to the best cover design they can achieve. I also suggest (I left links to my Publetariat articles above) doing some blind focus testing with people gathered maybe from typical bookstore shoppers, reviewing several cover choices, none of which show a title or author's name. The initial reactions in these conditions can be very, very important, especially if the test group can be identified as your reader market.

quickreaver
11-27-2010, 11:30 PM
That's a great example, Axler. I don't think all stock-photo designwork is poo, but for people familiar with the inventory, they can spot it a mile away.

There's a big difference (as of now) between what's acceptable in digital publishing and what's expected of brick-n-mortar projects. I took a stroll through Barnes and Noble on my way home from work today and the vast majority of the covers on print fiction were either illustrations or typography. You saw very little photowork...until you hit the romance/erotica dept. Then, it was StockPhotos-R-Us. With very little Photoshop editing, to be honest. A tattoo here, a little colorization there. That's about it. But that's what the market demands. Your genre and audience matter a great deal.

I thoroughly agree that I'd sooner see fewer stock photos in general, but digital covers pay diddly compared to traditional print media, in part because there's less risk and investment on the part of the publisher. The artist's time is worth money, and if you're only going to get a couple hundred dollars (or less!) for the project, you want to be as frugal with your time as possible.

In terms of self-publishing, you certainly want the most eye-catching and professional cover you can afford. If you aren't darned handy with Photoshop and graphic design, best leave it to folks who know better. You might have a brilliant novel, but if it looks amateurish, you won't be taken seriously. Kind of a no-brainer.

Fiery
11-28-2010, 11:45 AM
Since I can't claim having experience self-publishing, I'm going to approach this from the consumer and graphics side of things.

So, as I was reading through the thread, the mention of clip art made me die a little inside. Clip art is for presentations when you need to fill space quickly. I firmly believe that if you intend to sell your work, you need to present it in a way that the consumer will want to buy it. As a consumer and a designer, if I saw a book that had clip art on the front I can guarantee you I'd pass it by. Even if it was an eBook.

Here's why: if the author doesn't invest time packaging his product, and making it look appealing the thought process runs that he would extend the same approach to his actual writing. While this is not true in every case, it's enough to potentially damage the sales.

Stock photography isn't so much my style, but I can see how it's a viable option if you're pressed for time and money. But there's a lot more that goes into design than just the background image. The font, placement and colour scheme all plays a huge part in the overall success of an image.

If you're on a tight budget, a great way to save time (both yours and the artist's) is to go in with a couple rough sketches. The artist will probably change it up quite a bit, but the best thing you can do is be clear about what you want, and then not ask for ten million 'adjustments'. Seriously, that drives us crazy.

To summarize: I think it's worth it to consult an artist or designer, especially if you're wanting to promote yourself as a professional.

Axler
11-28-2010, 06:54 PM
Stock photography isn't so much my style, but I can see how it's a viable option if you're pressed for time and money. But there's a lot more that goes into design than just the background image. The font, placement and colour scheme all plays a huge part in the overall success of an image.

Absolutely. I wouldn't choose a stock photo for a cover unless it possesses some sort iconic imagery and even then, it would be altered considerably from the original.

For example, the cover image for the graphic novel, Nosferatu: Plague of Terror began with this still--

http://www.eons.com/images/members/2/5/25447873_o.jpeg


And ended up like this:

http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/3/38687/873254-plagueofterror_super.jpg

Both I and the designer wanted an image that appealed to an audience familiar with pop culture figures like Nosferatu, but also wanted to impart the message that graphic novel was a slightly different take on the old silent film.

I think the cover fulfilled its function. Judging by the sales over the last year or so, I'm not the only one.


To summarize: I think it's worth it to consult an artist or designer, especially if you're wanting to promote yourself as a professional.

Definite words of wisdom.

quickreaver
11-28-2010, 09:25 PM
If you're on a tight budget, a great way to save time (both yours and the artist's) is to go in with a couple rough sketches. The artist will probably change it up quite a bit, but the best thing you can do is be clear about what you want, and then not ask for ten million 'adjustments'. Seriously, that drives us crazy.

To summarize: I think it's worth it to consult an artist or designer, especially if you're wanting to promote yourself as a professional.

I third this! I might also suggest the writer NOT try to play art director too heavily (re. the sketches.) That again is best left to folks who know what they're doing. I worked with one author who ideally wanted four characters, a rampaging orc, a dragon, AND a German warplane with explosions all on the cover, because he was afraid to leave anything out. BAD idea, if only for visual clarity. And, of course, he didn't want to pay anywhere close to $1,000. I also argued he might have a hard time selling to a female reader (though that might've been a huge assumption on my part, though being female myself...well...)

We settled on the two main characters, a dragon, the plane, and the implications of combat. I think it came out pretty spiffy:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Hwy_LV3-X9g/StfJGMoPkYI/AAAAAAAAAKo/eHjPP2RrQdw/s400/Final+Cover+Art+Flank+Hawk+for+blog+post.jpg


Gryphonwood Press did the fontwork. I think it caught the 'epic fantasy' vibe that was intended. I charged somewhere between $300-350 (I forget the exact number), and it wasn't a stock photo or clip art. I also spent more than $300 worth of time on the piece! Terry has had moderate success with it, from what I can gather. I may drop him an email and get specifics!

Axler
11-28-2010, 11:20 PM
That's excellent work!

Fiery
11-28-2010, 11:46 PM
I third this! I might also suggest the writer NOT try to play art director too heavily (re. the sketches.) That again is best left to folks who know what they're doing. I worked with one author who ideally wanted four characters, a rampaging orc, a dragon, AND a German warplane with explosions all on the cover, because he was afraid to leave anything out.

What I was really trying to say about the sketches, was to go in with a realistic, clear idea. Though I highly suggest listening to the artist, chances are they might say suggest something you fall in love with. Or something you can realistically afford.

A dragon and a German warplane? Why would you need a warplane if you have a dragon? Just paint the dragon and use him. Biological napalm.

quickreaver
11-29-2010, 05:31 AM
That's excellent work!

Aw, thanks!

Fiery, I think we're on the same page. It's truly ideal to have a launching point with lots of wiggle room, to keep both parties happy and flexible. I have had the odd client who couldn't seem to communicate what they were really looking for, even after I supplied several thumbnail sketches. I suspect they wanted me to keep doing samples until something 'sang'. Or perhaps they couldn't see past the roughness of the samples to what might be a finished piece.

Regarding the dragon AND the plane, there is a time rift-y element to the story. I confess I've not read the book yet (I leant it out to a friend who really wanted to pour through it). From comments left on blogs here and there, it seems to be piqueing folks' curiosities. Biological napalm...heh!

Bicyclefish
11-30-2010, 12:23 AM
Speaking of stock images, if you've not seen the making of a book cover (For "Blameless") take a look. I don't know if they used all stock, but I think it shows how one could purchase stock images and a good graphic designer / Photoshop artist to make something quiet nice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoDCiTsS7dU

By the way, Quickreaver, your cover could use more cowbell!

quickreaver
11-30-2010, 01:20 AM
:snoopy:

mercs
12-02-2010, 03:08 AM
My two are in the signature and I'll let you guys judge. They are both done by professionals that I admire, Lyrian by the artist Kelly Carter and Runewil by Blackcat Studios who do a lot of Sci-Fi/fantasy covers on lulu. When I started off I didn't give much thought to the cover and it looked cheap, nasty and unprofessional, so a definite must...

The only shame is that despite being from the same series, they have very different looks, so my current effort will try to maintain some theme or look that groups them together. I don't like to discuss costs, but as I gave both artists completely free reign, they let me have them much cheaper than some quoted on here to the point that it was affordable for me. If you are humble, polite, appreciative and not too fussy you can normally get an artist to meet you half way...

quickreaver
12-02-2010, 04:08 AM
Can we get a peek at some bigger versions? From what I can tell, the illustrations look interesting but the design/fontwork might be a little unimaginative. Just one girl's opinion... ;)

mercs
12-03-2010, 12:06 AM
If you could see what they looked like originally then you can see how far I was from the mark. I like them, but as I said I was limited by budget, they are doing alright sales wise (nothing amazing or spectacular sadly) and I've nearly broken even on the project. Both are three piece (spine and rear too), so I feel I got what I paid for really...

sorry i can't make the images bigger as it just copies them over and over no matter what resizing I do. You can view them on amazon for a closer look, but I like the look of them =)

quickreaver
12-03-2010, 09:10 AM
Breaking even on the project(s) is pretty good these days. I like the look of them too! I simply think the fontwork could be improved upon, with very little effort. It's important to be able to read as much of the title/author's name as possible in thumbnails. And that acid green on Runewil just doesn't mesh with the existing colors of the illustration. I think the illos are great, as I said. And continued good luck with the sales!

mercs
12-20-2010, 03:48 AM
Thanks Quickreaver, if I'm honest perhaps a little tweaking is necessary. The neon green is a bit out of place but I listened more to advise from the artist as I couldn't decide on what fitted best with the background...the artwork has a large collection of colours and everything tended to fit in!

Likewise with Lyrian, my name is rather blended with the water, so although not a problem when you see a 9x6 copy in front of you, when you see it in my thumbnail -as I suspect most people are currently!- it does indeed appear to disappear (if that makes sense!)...

When I see these, the author name is about an inch high and stands out, as indeed does the title, but having seen them in the thumbnails I can see why people have reservations and all advise is indeed good advise when it comes to covers =)

raehachton
12-21-2010, 10:14 AM
This specifically goes out to those of you who have self-published. How did you get your cover? Did you do it yourself? Hire someone? What programs did you use. Did it feature artwork? Photography? Something else? Were you happy with it?

Other than two short stories in e-format, I have not self published, but am considering it. Being a writer and not an artist and not really a computer wiz, the cover is a concern. I recently downloaded a trial of InDesign from Adobe and so far have been having a tough time using it, though I I understand that it is pretty widely used and highly regarded.

I have thought about hiring someone. If anyone has gone this route, where did you find your artist and did you like the result?

I have done quite a bit of research to this point in case I go this way, but would like to hear from some folks who have actually completed the process. And for the purposes of this thread, let's focus on covers for physical books, not e-books, as there is more to consider.




If you haven't found a designer for your cover, I know an amazing one who designed mine. He will work with you on getting a cover you desire. Check out: http://coffeemugbooks.blogspot.com which was just launched. He designed my cover for Maybe, Maybe Not and is working on my other book designs. : ) BTW, his prices are amazing!!!!

amrose
12-21-2010, 08:57 PM
My covers were worth every penny.

Yes sir, they were. Gorgeous pieces of design. Great type. Thanks for posting the fulls.

valeriec80
12-23-2010, 04:09 AM
I design all my own covers. This is my latest. (It's just an ebook, so it's only a front image.)

I'm thinking about writing a little ebook for self-publishers on how to design their own covers.

http://vjchambers.com/stillnessmid.jpg

Axler
12-23-2010, 05:59 AM
That's pretty solid. Catches my attention.

dbfitzgerald
12-24-2010, 03:48 AM
For my two novels (printed through Lulu) I've taken photos--nothing fancy, just a decent digital camera--and blown them up as covers, something different for front and back. If the picture is interesting, it comes out really nice, and no photoshopping is required--just find a decent font, write your info on there and you're done.

DoctorMandaBenson
01-03-2011, 10:56 PM
I'm enjoying reading people's cover design stories and seeing all the covers. Personally I consider having control over how the book looks in shops to be the biggest advantage of self publishing over old-school, agent-and-an-editor publishing. :-) I enjoy designing my own covers.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_IHLQZD_bTFo/TSIVUKLHVaI/AAAAAAAAAC0/Xew05RWytFY/s1600/wastelandercov.jpg
First cover I made, from which I learnt a lot. Most offensive mistake on it is a narrow vertical white line between the cover plate and spine, where I didn't line the plates up right. The image is hand-drawn using paper and a pencil, then completed with a scanner and a graphics tablet in Adobe Photoshop. The cover was assembled using InDesign.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_IHLQZD_bTFo/TSIVgDHRB2I/AAAAAAAAAC8/-ZYKNWyoRAY/s1600/wmncov.jpg
Second one. The text effects and the artwork were both rendered in Photoshop. The 'hurricane' of text on the back was added in InDesign. This one was probably the most experimental and the most complicated to make. I can still remember being heartily sick of drawing fluffy wolves.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_IHLQZD_bTFo/TSIVnzyJ4PI/AAAAAAAAADE/Lf5DFallbIk/s1600/beaconcover.jpg
Most recent. Although it's more conservative than the Weatherman's cover, I consider it my most competent technically. The water is a heavily manipulated photograph I took off the side of a ferry. The rest of the image is entirely computer generated using Photoshop. Text effects are all in InDesign.

With regards to public domain images, I find Wikimedia Commons a good place to start. So far as I'm aware, most NASA images are public domain (see here) (http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/features/MP_Photo_Guidelines.html). It's always good etiquette to credit the owner of the image if you do use public domain photographs or artwork, either on the back of the cover or in the verso within the book.

FOTSGreg
01-04-2011, 03:30 AM
I used to do covers using a combination of programs like Universe, DoGa (a 3D modeling program, sometimes Moray and POVRay, and, surprisingly, ULead SE). DoGa let me build and position my models and add a few effects, Universe let me add backgrounds and special effects (like explosions, lens flares (a lot can be done with lens flares I discovered), and a few other frills. If I really wanted to produce an awesome model and effects, I'd use Moray and POVRay, but the others let me do most of the work relatively easily. I'd render the images, futz around with the lighting and positioning, then render the final product, edit it in Universse to add effects, and then open it up in ULead SE to add titles and blurbs and credits.

I managed to create some eye-popping covers with those programs I think and I had some people who contributed other images and they were a helluva' lot better at modeling than I'll ever be.

These days, I plan to use my own or royalty free photographic images and add in the titles and blurbs and credits with a free image manipulation program available online like ULead SE (only slightly more advanced).

CheG
01-04-2011, 08:19 AM
I am also an artist, actually trained in that a lot more than in writing, BUT I would NEVER draw my own cover. I would commission an image and pay for it happily. A few minutes of searching on a site like Deviant Art will yield a plethora of amazing and professional artists, many of whom take commissions.

I agree that a poorly designed/amature cover stands out for all the wrong reasons. If the over is bad then what are the contents like? I know that isn't fair but books are judged by their covers.

In the event my book does end up with a small press I have a cover artist on DA picked out as my #1 choice to go to for a cover.

EmpoweredOKC
01-04-2011, 08:32 PM
I designed my own in Photoshop. My topics are very specialized--treatment of trauma related to sexual assault/abuse--but the topic requires a very sensitive cover design. Here were mine:

(This one isn't available yet; its awaiting proofs)
http://resurrectionafterrape.org/LTSCover.jpg

EmpoweredOKC
01-04-2011, 08:36 PM
And my first book:

http://resurrectionafterrape.org/RARcover.png

Mystery1
01-04-2011, 10:18 PM
Smoke on the Water is set in a small tourist resort in Missouri. I went to a local marina on a cloudy day and took several pictures. Chose one, uploaded it to a graphics program and sprayed it with fog to create the smoky look. The story begins in October, so the photos were shot in October.


Sharon

Jack Newcastle
01-05-2011, 08:06 AM
I have nothing but an iota of talent in graphic design, but as I've been told, I have an eye for composition, and maybe that's why I've gotten some good feedback on my cover. I suppose it also helps to be a fan of mid-century designers like Alvin Lustig and Saul Bass, both of whom stuck with simple but highly effective design. If you're not familiar with them, a fast search will prove beneficial. My suggestion is that if you want to do it yourself, and you're not an artist, keep it simple.

http://grandprixpress.com/images/stories/Book_Covers/The_Fine_Art_of_Mixing_Girls_One_Cover_11-6_for_dark_bg.png

Kind regards,

Jack

Carradee
01-26-2011, 05:49 PM
I've mostly done covers for NaNoWriMo (my own work and a few friends'), but I just put a short story of mine for free up on Smashwords and made a cover. It doesn't seem to be hurting the downloads any.

Hm. Can't get even a small version of the image to show. Well, you can view it here (http://mistiwolanski.com/image/Butterfly%20Boots.jpg), if you want.

valeriec80
01-27-2011, 03:19 AM
Sorry, your link isn't working either. :(

zpeteman
01-27-2011, 09:11 AM
Error message:

I'm sorry, but you're not permitted to access to /image/Butterfly%20Boots.jpg.
Misti

403

Carradee
01-27-2011, 04:38 PM
Error message:

I'm sorry, but you're not permitted to access to /image/Butterfly%20Boots.jpg.
Misti

403

Okay, I just double-checked my folder permissions, and that should not be showing up! And I just got through over a week of problems with my web host. :rant: Ulgh!

Different host:

http://www.freeimagehosting.net/uploads/e28fad9663.jpg

I did it myself because I could. (Yes, those photos are legal.) I have a story series I'm working on, though, where I don't think I can produce the covers I have in mind with my limited graphic skills. I can design all day if I have the pieces, but if I can't get the pieces, my ability to make them is mostly non-existent.

FocusOnEnergy
02-08-2011, 12:07 AM
They say that you can't judge a book by its cover, but in fact, we do that all the time when we shop for books in brick and mortar stores, because that cover is what catches our eye and says, "hey, over here! Buy me!"

I admit to being a better graphic designer than writer-I write non-fiction not novels. That being said, clip art, stock photos, original drawings/paintings, and typography are all part of a designer's toolbox.

Depending on the story itself and what you want to evoke, you may use some or all of these tools as part of a design.

I've got a novel on my desk for a Community Read, that has a very simple cover design with a midnight blue background and a partial photograph of the author's dog peeking up from the bottom. The author's photo is a simple snapshot, and the back cover is mostly a bright orange with a narrow bar of the same midnight blue across the top. The design is very minimal, but not something that reaches out and grabs you, unless you like dog books.

I have a non-fiction book on my desk, with a dark teal cover, featuring a narrow band on the front with a painting of an infant in a basket. No author photos. The typography is oversized and makes it look cluttered and amateurish.

I have another non-fiction book on my desk (I need to clean off my desk, where did all these books come from?) that is nothing but black and white and gray typography, except for a small photograph on the front cover of a pool of crude oil. Again, a very minimal design. No author photo.

All of them were published by commercial publishers: Harper Collins, Ballantine Books and McClelland and Stewart. All of them are best-sellers.

I would not have bought any of them based on the look of the covers. The dog book was recommended by my editor at the paper, and then picked by the library as a Community Read. The book with the baby on the cover was recommended by Amazon.com when i logged in and I found the description of interest, and it's written by Carl Sagan. The third book was a Christmas gift and the subtitle would have attracted me because of the subject matter.

So, there really is no hard and fast rule when it comes to fiction or non-fiction cover art. It's really up to the publisher and when you are the publisher, it is up to you to determine what is going to sell your book to a reader who looks at it? Is it the artwork, the author's name, or the title/subtitle? And make sure that the cover design plays to that strength.

Jack Newcastle-you have more than an iota of talent. Your book cover, including the colors, layout, graphics and typography evoke the late 50's early 60's, maybe Vegas and the Rat Pack, but definitely that era. Very sharp and very professional.

Focus

BBB
02-16-2011, 02:14 PM
If you feel up to doing your own artwork, try the Serif software. Very cheap and very easy to use.

Heidicvlach
02-18-2011, 11:21 AM
Since the last time I posted in this thread, I commissioned some cover art for my secondary world fantasy.

http://i53.tinypic.com/2l8km6v.jpg

It was very important to me to have original artwork produced, to make it clear that I had put effort into building a distinctive written world. I wanted colour and light, because my beta readers have commented that my invented world uses so much magical, elemental light, it sounds like a pretty place. And I had a general idea of a scene that would loosely capture the themes in my book -- a magical plant sprouting from a crystal, in a deserted place.

So I browsed Deviantart galleries until I found a commission-taking artist who produced art I liked -- and art that had the same subject matter I wanted. There's no sense commissioning an artist who doesn't like drawing plants to draw a plant for me, after all.

I provided stock photos of some different design aspects (terrain, quartz crystals, curly plants), and talked about the general mood I wanted the cover to have. The artist took it all into account and made a rough concept sketch for me to approve. As she worked, I saw some in-progress versions and asked for design tweaks and a colour change. The purple lighting is meant to make the scene look otherworldly, since purple is a rare colour in our natural environment. I'm very satisfied with the final results. I don't think I could make anything this appealing out of clipart and Photoshop filters.

With such balanced, detailed art for my cover, I didn't want to junk it up with extra elements. So I skipped hiring a cover designer and figured I could handle adding a title in an appropriate font. I browsed freeware fonts at dafont.com and picked something with the right simple-but-stylish look. Something that seemed appropriate for fantasy, and something that people wouldn't look at and think, "Oh, yeah, my word processor has that font by default."

izanobu
02-18-2011, 11:29 AM
That is a great cover, Heidi. Very cool :)

kurzon
02-18-2011, 03:47 PM
I really like that one Heidi. It gives a YA feel, so I hope you were aiming for that. Very distinctive and will work well in thumbnail.

JerseyGirl1962
02-18-2011, 06:09 PM
Heidi,

Nice cover, very pretty. Definitely comes off as a fantasy with the artwork and your choice of font. :)

Nancy

PortableHal
02-19-2011, 06:17 AM
Lovely cover, Heidi. Congratulations!

Care to give props to your cover artist?

Heidicvlach
02-19-2011, 06:37 AM
Thanks for your comments, folks.


I really like that one Heidi. It gives a YA feel, so I hope you were aiming for that. Very distinctive and will work well in thumbnail.

The target is not YA, although young people are welcome to read about an aging dragon's views on mortality if they want. I wanted to suggest a richly magical place with growth and hope in it, to set this world apart from the recent fantasy trend of grimdark "realism". What about this cover strikes you as particularly YA?


Care to give props to your cover artist?

Silly me, not doing that in the first place. My artist is Melanie Herring! Her website is papayakitty.com, but it's not completed yet -- some of her gallery can be found here (http://purplekecleon.deviantart.com/).

kurzon
02-19-2011, 09:36 AM
The target is not YA, although young people are welcome to read about an aging dragon's views on mortality if they want. I wanted to suggest a richly magical place with growth and hope in it, to set this world apart from the recent fantasy trend of grimdark "realism". What about this cover strikes you as particularly YA?

The style of art (painted, but not super-realistic). It's a style you often see on YA books.

The cover for Champ (currently my avatar) is also painted and not super-realistic, and I've had quite a few people telling me they thought the book was YA (despite the character depicted appearing clearly adult, imho).

I definitely didn't pick up that "Remedy" was about an aging dragon's views on mortality. Healing/herbalism, perhaps, but probably they're related. :)

Nadia
02-19-2011, 09:55 AM
I love the cover, Heidi. Very pretty and eye-catching. :-)

Heidicvlach
02-19-2011, 10:28 AM
The style of art (painted, but not super-realistic). It's a style you often see on YA books.

The cover for Champ (currently my avatar) is also painted and not super-realistic, and I've had quite a few people telling me they thought the book was YA (despite the character depicted appearing clearly adult, imho).

I definitely didn't pick up that "Remedy" was about an aging dragon's views on mortality. Healing/herbalism, perhaps, but probably they're related. :)

Hmm. I wonder if it has something to do with the belief that animation and "cartoons" are always intended for young people. I've always found that an unfortunate assumption. Adults can enjoy clean linework and vivid colour, too.

Yeah, I didn't hope to capture the entire story in the cover art. It'd make a cluttered cover. The blurb conveys what the picture doesn't, and it does all relate in the end.

Smaddux
02-24-2011, 07:35 PM
I took the plunge and designed my own cover. It took some time but I am pretty proud of my efforts.

nikita88
02-25-2011, 02:10 AM
I tried one on my own as a sketch in Photoshop. It didn't turn out well! My time was better spent on making money to pay someone talented to do it :)

Max Vaehling
02-25-2011, 06:55 PM
I always design my own covers. Not surprising since I'm a comic artist, but I try to stretch my legs when I'm creating cover art and do stuff I can't do in my comics because it would take too long.

http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/10/22/1530740/bildread/conny2cover350.jpg

Here, for example, I've mashed my own art, an anatomic drawing of a worm, a photograph of a playground and the scan of a chopping block.

Sargentodiaz
02-25-2011, 09:43 PM
I love the punning of the title and cover work.

Sehr gut! {I once spoke fluent German but haven't used it for almost 30 years}

http://lvcabbie@blogspot.com

Max Vaehling
02-26-2011, 08:26 PM
Thanks!

writerjohnb
03-10-2011, 09:44 PM
Instead of paying money for my cover, I USED money for my cover. This artwork was the background for paper currency printed by the Commonwealth of North Carolina in the first half of the 19th century, which explains the hazy quality. The subject is the Dismal Swamp Canal, which is the setting for my historical novel.

JohnB

Deb
03-13-2011, 01:05 AM
Self-publishers I've looked at so far either have the cover design included in the package or charge to have someone design the cover.

And some want a photo of the author for the back and others don't.

There are so many choices that m y head is spinning.

Deb