Thanks to digital publishing, you now have a lot more control over your writing career. With that control, however, comes a lot more responsibility. As well as writing the book, you have to promote it and provide it with a decent cover.
The cover is hugely important. Think about your own browsing habits online. You visit Amazon (or another digital bookstore, but we’ll use Amazon as the example here) and browse.
Usually, you’ll click on a genre that you enjoy: thrillers, romances, mysteries, etc. Once you know you’re in the right playground, you start to sift further. You might be looking for books by a particular author, or recent releases. You might check out the bestseller lists, both free and paid; you might filter results by the number of five-star reviews.
But once you have arrived at a list, what do you do next?
Mostly likely, you scroll through the list seeing if there’s anything there that looks interesting.
“Interesting” means, first and foremost, the cover. Since you’re looking at thumbnails, anything that’s too busy or amateurish or difficult to see usually gets passed over.
IT’S THE COVER THAT GRABS YOU.
An interesting title and a book description that hooks you are both important, but it’s the first impression of the cover that draws you in.
Annie Moril, Cover Designer
I know my cover designer is incredibly busy, so I felt a bit guilty asking her if she could answer a few quick questions about the process. But as the saying goes: “If you want something done quickly, ask a busy person!”
Annie is more than happy to help authors understand what goes on at the other end. I asked questions like: “What does a cover designer need from the author?” and “How do you set about creating the final design?” among others.
Here’s what Annie had to say…
What is the general process you go through when coming up with a concept for a cover?
It varies. Sometimes an idea or image will instantly pop in my head and other times I don’t have any ideas to begin with. So then I begin my research finding royalty-free images which can be time consuming but extremely helpful in starting the visualization process.
You would think that starting out with an idea already in mind would be easier but that is not always the case when I can’t find exactly what I am looking for. However, this is not always a bad thing as it forces me to gather a few images and by combining them with the use of Photoshop magic I literally create what I had envisioned for the cover. The bonus is that this works out well because my client is guaranteed that the cover will be unique.
When I start out with a blank slate, just looking through the multitude of images helps me to come up with a few ideas. What I love best is when it is an idea I had never thought of. I love this step of image research for my cover designs because you never know where it will lead you and sometimes to very unexpected places.
After I have completed a draft layout, then I move on to find the appropriate font choices. There are so many fonts that it can be overwhelming, so this is also a time consuming process. I usually like to give my clients a few font choices as well as a few draft layouts to choose from.
How do you approach doing a series?
The most important aspect in designing covers for a series is that they have to be instantly recognizable to the potential reader as belonging to the same series. The series needs to be a brand. The way I do that is by having some of the same graphic elements on all the covers. The author name and series titles should use the same font on all the books. The title font can be the same as well but can differ slightly from book to book as long as the font fits the genre.
Even the same image can be used on all the books but with subtle changes like the color to differentiate the books. Just keep in mind that when readers look at the covers, they must be able to quickly identify them as part of the same series. That is what creates a successful brand.
What information do you need from the author?
What helps me is having:
- a story synopsis
- some information about the characters including their physical appearances
- if possible, the description of a key element or image that is vital to the story’s meaning. (For example, maybe finding a magic ring plays a pivotal role in a story about freeing an oppressed people of a certain kingdom.)
I also like when the author submits sample covers that they like (or even don’t like) as it helps me to see through their eyes, if you will, and try to envision what they want for the cover. An author can also submit any royalty-free image(s) they want me to use.
What lead time do you prefer?
Well, business has really picked up this year and so I am very busy. I have bookings 3 months ahead already! So please be kind and try to submit your orders two months ahead of your projected deadline. I try to do my best to squeeze in orders but it’s becoming more and more impossible. I just had someone ask to fit him in for a “simple” cover. I moved him up six weeks ahead of where I initially had scheduled him (at great stress to myself) and he never replied! Sorry, fella, but it really is not fair to my other clients waiting in queue to put you ahead.
What points would you like to make to writers?
A professionally designed cover is very important to your book’s success. Please don’t skimp on this. There are even great pre-made covers available at great low prices if you are financially strapped. I cannot tell you the times I have bought books just based on the covers. A amateur book cover stands out like a sore thumb shouting for all to see its low quality. It tells me the author does not care enough about the book or the readers.
As an example, here is the cover of a book that was highly recommended. It’s a book that boasts “Learn How To Create Professional Ebook Covers With Free Tools and Software!” I did not buy it. Why? There will be nothing in this book that will teach anyone how to make a professional looking cover when its own cover reeks of amateurism. Have a look for yourself.
Is it helpful to have an excerpt from the book as well as a short synopsis?
Anything and everything that an author offers is helpful. Whatever you think might be important or is important to you should be mentioned because it might spark a great idea.
What led you to becoming an ebook cover designer?
I have worked as a graphic designer for over 20 years in various fields of the industry from a post-production film company to a children’s book publisher so I am very attuned to the visual world around me. What has always grabbed my attention is book cover design. I could spend hours in a bookstore. So when reading through posts on the Kindling Facebook group, I came across a member asking for advice on a cover she had designed, I offered a few suggestions. That led to her hiring me to do the cover.
As the saying goes from the film “Casablanca”, it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship… and the start of my book designing business. It has now branched out to creating website and Facebook headers, Createspace covers, 3D boxed sets, etc. I am so grateful now that I am very busy but I worry as I have not had the time to update my website. There is nil on my “Premade Covers” page! Oh well, in the end all is well.
You can see Annie’s work here: http://anniemoril.com/