Welcome to another addition of Writer's Wednesday. A number of you seemed to enjoy my self-pub tips on the last go around, so I thought I'd share the nuts and bolts with you about creating a captivating cover.
Let me also point out that if you intend to publish paperback (or hard bound) copies of your novel, you have a lot more work cut out for you. Just making the front cover is relatively easy compared to creating a whole cover (including the spine and back). If you, like me, are not tech savvy, you will find you are entirely dependent on your cover designer to get the details right. Which means -- do your homework and pick someone you want to work with.
But for now, let's just start with the front cover and the artwork or photography that will grace it. Basically, you have three options: (1) use your own photo/art (un-comissioned); (2) buy stock photos/art; (3) commission photos/art.
Using your own photograph can yield good results if you or your designer have the skills to manipulate the photo well. The first example that comes to mind is book one in Willow Cross's Dark Gifts series. The girl on the cover is Willow's daughter and her neighbor was cover artist. If you can get lucky enough to have a free model and designer, go for it!
The next option -- to which most of us will be relegated -- is using stock photography and art. Here's my biggest concern about stock photography: anyone else can buy the same picture and use it on their cover. You'd think with the millions of images out there (check out iStockPhoto.com for example), that this wouldn't be a big concern. Unfortunately, it is. Just check out these examples if you don't believe me.
The way I got around this with Destined was to look for art on DeviantArt.com. The image I fell in love with was not for sale (meaning it wasn't a stock image), but I contacted the artist to see if she'd be willing to sell me the rights to use it. She was not only flattered, but sold me rights at stock price. This is not always going to happen. Some artists won't want to sell; some will want exorbitant prices. But the bottom line is, you won't know if you don't ask. So what's the harm?
Finally, you can commission the cover art. That means either hiring an artist to digitally paint your cover or hiring a photographer to shoot a model and then manipulate the image into a cover. Here are some really stunning examples by Indie authors.
Don't forget when designing your cover that you will oftentimes need to pay for the right to commercially use the font you select (see dafont.com), but your cover artist should already own the digital brushes or be able to purchase them economically.
Finally, for your spine and back cover, how you format will depend on who you decide to use to print your books. I used Lightning Source and Create Space and both have different formats and templates. So yes, my designer had to put the full cover together twice (although, since I'm not tech savvy, I have no idea how much work this actually was). You're also going to need to know your final page count because that determines the width of your spine. Just some things to keep in mind.
Regardless of which route you take to create your cover, I recommend combing Amazon and Goodreads for covers that you love. Once you have an idea of what you like, it will make the process of selecting art/photography and a feel for your book that much easier. Just for fun, here are some of the covers that had me drooling when we created the Destined cover. Can you tell??
Have any questions or tips ? Please share!