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message 1: by Ann (new)

Ann Pratley (ann_m_pratley) I would love to put out there to everyone the question of how do you determine what should be on some book covers? When it is a story that doesn't have something very obvious in it (monsters, men & women in extreme erotica, to name just a couple), how do you find the focus to get that first level thinking about what would you want to see on the cover that would accurately portray what is in the book?

I look at a lot of 'I will create a book cover for you' type advertisements but most seem to require that you already have an image to use ... but how to make a decision about what image would suit best?

I would love to hear the thought processes from as many people as possible about how you determine what will be on your cover - not the look of the cover so much (layout, text etc), but just which image you will use as the base 'look' for the story.

Thanks!

:)

Ann


message 2: by Martin (new)

Martin Wilsey | 447 comments A cover should convey a couple things:

1) genre - Don't put a romance cover on a hard scifi

2) Eye catch - Get that Amazon shopper to click it as an icon size cover.

3) the image should relate some way to the story.

I have covers made when the book is still an outline. You can write the scene in that way.

It costs more to have one tailor made later...


message 3: by Ann (new)

Ann Pratley (ann_m_pratley) K.R. wrote: "Look through stock images that are free for commercial use until you find something that just fits. I create covers and you don't do have to have an image; just give me an idea and I can make a few..."

Oh, K.R, do you know that that link does not work? (or at least is not working for me)...


message 4: by K.R. (new)

K.R. Reese (authorkrreese) | 41 comments Try one of those. I'm sorry, my phone is acting weird since I cracked the screen.


message 5: by P.D. (new)

P.D. Workman (pdworkman) Look at other books in your genre/subcategory to see what kind of images they are using. Many beginning authors or authors new to the design process try to pick an image or conglomeration of images that tell their story, but that's really not what you are looking for. You are looking for an image that communicates the type of story it is, not to tell your story.

What do romance book covers look like? One or two bodies/torsos, cursive font, some indication of setting (modern, historical, pirate ship, farm girl, etc.)

YA? A face or silhouette of a young person, or maybe a symbol, clean lines, some indication of subgenre (fantasy, romance, contemp).

Mystery? Often a picture of the setting - big house, flowery garden, dark windows. Or it might have a graphic or two that signifies the manner of death. Cozy Mystery will have pastel colours, an illustration rather than a photo.

Suspense/thriller is going to have lots of contrast, sans serif fonts, an action scene or something ominous.

Once you have a really good idea of the type of picture you are going to need, a few ideas for the person, setting, or symbol you could use, then start looking through stock photography sites for something appropriate.


message 6: by Ann (new)

Ann Pratley (ann_m_pratley) K.R. wrote: "Try one of those. I'm sorry, my phone is acting weird since I cracked the screen."

Both of those links work..
:)


message 7: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) I've used my own photographs and art, commissioned art, and free stock images on my covers. It all just depends on what I wanted. If you're not sure what you want, browsing keywords on image sites might help. Another idea is to keep it simple, especially for an ebook. The cover art will most likely be seen in thumbnail only (I personally always scroll to the cover image, but I am a rare minority on this).

One thing I would note about what is considered common: You want your book to be appealing, but you also want it to stand out. Keep this in mind as you browse covers. There are a couple of stock images that are so wildly overused, it causes confusion for readers.


message 8: by Ann (new)

Ann Pratley (ann_m_pratley) P.D. wrote: "Look at other books in your genre/subcategory to see what kind of images they are using. Many beginning authors or authors new to the design process try to pick an image or conglomeration of images..."

Thanks PD ... I've put out the word of the book in question today being free on Amazon, and put a note with it that I would love anyone who reads it to let me know (after reading the whole story) what they would picture as a 'fitting' cover... I know this is a backwards way of doing things but I really am curious about how readers perceive the book as far as genre goes...

The difficulty I have had with finding an image that suits this story is:
a) the main character starts off with one partner ('man of her dreams'), but ends the book with another (so I don't feel I can have a man/woman traditional romance image on the front since she does not just find the 'one man of her dreams' over the entire story, as has traditionally happened in many romance novels I have read

b) the first third and last third of the story are probably primarily romance, but in the middle third there is a murder that has happened and the main character is on the outlying situation relating to that ... but the book as a whole is not a 'murder mystery' book ... but then it is neither as a whole a romance book

c) the book starts out on a cruise (where she meets 'perfect man' #1) but then after that covers time in a large city, then a small town, and then in another large city ... so the background changes a bit ...

So it's a bit of a mixer and really the main core 'thing' that goes all the way through is the main character (hence I have just had an image of a young woman on the cover in recent edition) so maybe it is a matter of just finding the right 'one woman' image ...

But thanks for your advice. It probably isn't wise or professional to ask readers of the book to contact me and let me know what they would perceive as 'most descriptive for the story' on the cover, but this book has been in Amazon for months and even on free days it gets overlooked, so I don't feel I have anything to lose by asking for feedback, that is for sure!

I can see why established authors make the decision to leave things like this to professional marketing experts ...


message 9: by P.D. (new)

P.D. Workman (pdworkman) Sounds like it is mainly romance. Choosing between two eligible men. Happily ever after with the second man. Mystery is secondary to the romance storyline. Romantic suspense, maybe. I would have just the woman, perhaps with a cruise ship in the background. Or maybe looking back over her shoulder.


Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger) (sammydogs) | 973 comments Christina,
I know what you mean about covers being overused. I have the same couple on all the books of 4 separate series I'm reading or have read... not by the same author. I have one girl in the same pose on 3 different books, also by different authors. And this is all within the wolf-shifting paranormal romance genre.

I haven't decided what I'm going to do yet, but I've got plenty of time.
Hugs, Sue


message 11: by Ann (new)

Ann Pratley (ann_m_pratley) P.D. wrote: "Sounds like it is mainly romance. Choosing between two eligible men. Happily ever after with the second man. Mystery is secondary to the romance storyline. Romantic suspense, maybe. I would have ju..."

Thanks, PD ... I'll play around with that kind of idea. Presently embarking on the seventh book I've written, sometimes I wonder how interesting an experiment it would be to start off with an outstanding graphic cover ... and then write a story to match it, rather than the other way round!
;)
Ann


message 12: by P.D. (new)

P.D. Workman (pdworkman) Ann wrote: "sometimes I wonder how interesting an experiment it would be to start off with an outstanding graphic cover ... and then write a story to match it, rather than the other way round!"

I know authors who have done it. Seen a premade book cover or series of covers, bought them, and wrote the stories to match them.

I generally create my cover before I start a book. That's when I do my tagline, back cover blurb, etc. as well. Starting with a good, clear overview of 'what the book is about' and having the images and mood in front of me when I start is a lot easier than trying to capture it all when the book is done, all of those little twists and complications and backstories have been added, and it's harder to tease out the image, conflict, or symbolism that you want.


message 13: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Sue (Dog Mom) wrote: "Christina,
I know what you mean about covers being overused. I have the same couple on all the books of 4 separate series I'm reading or have read... not by the same author. I have one girl in the ..."


Is it the girl with the windblown hair? I call her the literal indie cover poster child.


Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger) (sammydogs) | 973 comments LOL!! Christina, you are too funny. She looks young, has brown hair and it does look a little windblown.


message 15: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4353 comments Mod
I do a lot of my own artwork for covers or use my own photos. I know they are not the best out there, but I also know they are one-of-a-kind. I try to keep them simple and basic, the image is clear even in a thumbnail. I try to mirror the mood of the story in the colors I use. Not big on depicting characters or scenes from stories, so I try to come up with some image that symbolizes the story in some way.


message 16: by Lane (new)

Lane Casteix | 7 comments As a professional graphic designer, normally I would agree with the OP. The cover should align with the book's genre and speak of the story in some way. The former may be more important than the latter. The challenge is for the designer to make it stand out from the others without violating that rule—at least not too much. My first book is strongly historical romance, but the second in the series is much more war related, although the two MCs have not yet closed the deal. In the third book of the series (coming soon), they are married, and the theme is much more action than romance, which plays only a minor role. Since I was going for an "authentic" feel in the story, the books are based on "found" diaries (hers) and a manuscript written after the fact (his), I did not want the covers to portray modern people photographed in period costumes. I wanted "real" people. That meant I had to use public domain antique images (Civil War period), and frankly, people back then weren't all that "pretty" by our modern standards, nor are good images easy to find. Enter Photoshop, and a rather ordinary looking woman got a bit more glamorous, and a weak chinned Confederate soldier got square-jawed. My first cover does not "look" romance other than colors used and it has a picture of a lovely young woman on it. The second and third (coming soon), because of the classic antique images, also does not look genre specific. That was a risk I chose to take for an "authentic feel" and to be different from the expected rippled abs and ripped bodice. Maybe I made a mistake doing that, but the books are doing OK with zero promotions, which is about to change. In my opinion, covers are a real challenge to get right, but I sometimes hear from others that readers don't get into the details like we do. They don't care all that much as long as it looks professionally done.


message 17: by Ann (new)

Ann Pratley (ann_m_pratley) Thanks to everyone who is providing their views on this - it is really interesting reading your posts! When I think of myself as a book purchaser I have to say that covers are not usually what draws my attention. Even in a book shop I tend to randomly pick books up and instantly read the back of them, often not even noticing the front, so for me the blurb is more important that the image on the front ... but there certainly is so much to consider being a writer! One thing to do the writing, but geez if you want other people to read it!


message 18: by K.R. (new)

K.R. Reese (authorkrreese) | 41 comments I don't read the backs of the books believe it or not. I've always used the cover; then just jump into the story. But, you are absolutely right! As a writer, it's one thing to have to write, but a complete other thing when you have so much else to do with your book still !


message 19: by Jen Pattison (new)

Jen Pattison | 13 comments My book was non-fiction, I did ponder with designing the cover myself but I had to be brutally honest and face the fact that I don't have a creative design cell in my body. Also as a non-techie, getting to grips with design tools was totally beyond me if I wanted to get mine published within the next decade. So, I looked for recommendations, found a designer, gave him a vague idea of what I wanted and he designed a great cover that I think stands out in a quirky way from the rest in the genre, whilst still sticking to some of the genre's norms.

If I'm in a bookshop, I would have to say that I am drawn by two things - a good cover and a descriptive title, and that then draws me in to reading the blurb.


message 20: by Jane (new)

Jane Jago | 888 comments I have three books out there on Kindle.

One has a self drawn image that a lot of people don't like. But it's mine so I'm being stubborn.

One has a photo of my own.

One has a stock image from KDP.

So far that's been the best seller. But I dunno if it's the cover or the fact it's a whodunnits rather than fantasy


message 21: by C.L. (last edited Jul 16, 2016 09:06AM) (new)

C.L. Lynch (cllynchauthor) | 316 comments The book covers I love provoke an emotion in me. They make me feel inspired, or frightened, or hopeful.

Personally I never like covers that have stock photo people on them. I'm always put off by that. I would rather have a book cover that is symbolic in some way - reflecting some imagery from inside the book, for example, or artwork that tells me what the theme of the book is.

I also find it goes hand in hand with the title. If the book was called "Til Death" for example, and had a wilting flower on it, that would provoke a different emotion in me than if it were called "Charmer" and had a wilting flower on it.

So I think the trick is to think about your title and why you chose it, and some of the imagery in the book, and how they might fit together.

My book is called Chemistry, so I thought about putting a beaker or something on it, but then I realized that would make people think of Chemistry exclusively in the scientific sense and I mean it to be taken in the romantic sense as well. So then I took a moment from my book where the love interest literally offers his heart to my main character. That way you know that it's about love, and it is about zombies. I'm waiting on my cover designer to turn it into reality!


message 22: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4353 comments Mod
C. wrote: "...if it were called "Charmer" and had a wilting flower on it. "

That's highly appealing to me. That's a book I'd definitely pick up and read a few pages.


message 23: by C.L. (new)

C.L. Lynch (cllynchauthor) | 316 comments Maybe someone should write it!


message 24: by Luke (new)

Luke Gracias | 41 comments If your book was a film script, there usually is an inciting incident which is the event that propels your protagonist on their journey. Everything before the inciting incident is back story and everything after is 'your story'.
I am a photographer as well and believe in the age old saying 'a picture is worth a thousand words'. In my debut novel, a horror thriller, The Devil's Prayer, I tried to chose the image I saw which exemplified a scene at the inciting incident.


message 25: by C.L. (new)

C.L. Lynch (cllynchauthor) | 316 comments I agree with Luke, especially since often that image returns at the climax or resolution to create symmetry.

Think about the objects around the action. Often showing an object will make people think about the action around that object. A tie on the floor tells us pretty clearly that someone stripped it off in a hurry. A broken window makes us wonder what broke it. A pipe recently laid down makes us think about the smoker. A freshly brewed cup of tea makes us think about a peaceful morning in the kitchen.

You can make it more dramatic by unusual use of those objects. A knocked over cup of tea speaks of a peaceful moment that has been disturbed, for example.

Our characters use objects and their actions affect objects. One of those objects may obliquely refer to a pivotal moment or type of scene.


message 26: by David (new)

David Trock | 1 comments If you look at the cover of my book, "A Religion Called Love," you see a peace sign, which usually doesn't get much attention, but the graphic artists at BookBaby nailed this one. Working with them to publish the book, I had requested an austere cover - the title above, a peace sign with some color, and my name below - and they went with it. The result speaks volumes. Consequently, the design has gotten a great deal of positive criticism, which I can attribute only to good luck. My advice, put something on the cover that our eyes are hardwired to notice (a stop sign, a cute baby, a symbol) and make it yours.


message 27: by Karen (new)

Karen Charbonneau | 2 comments I've changed the cover on my newly launched Marble Creek on Kindle - still not satisfied with it, though. I used Kindle's create a cover and the title is impossible to center. I'll have to get my son to create a similar cover for me. The image portrays a perilous event in the novel, which I hope will draw potential readers. What do you think? https://www.amazon.com/Marble-Creek-K...


message 28: by Karen (new)

Karen Charbonneau | 2 comments Thanks, Ann. I'll work on that.


message 29: by Heather (new)

Heather Weber | 23 comments Reading your description, these are some of the images that come to mind for association (obviously not exactly, but for tone and feel):

http://kingoftheflatscreen.com/wp-con...

http://www.newsmediaimages.com/wp-con...

Or maybe even a woman and a man but the man's face is censored/blurred?


message 30: by R. (new)

R. Billing (r_billing) | 228 comments I wanted the contrast between the huge, powerful spaceship, and the small but strong woman who flies it. My illustrator had the idea of drawing the ship with the tail towards the viewer which worked brilliantly well.

http://arcturian-spacefleet.com/wp-co...


message 31: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Vespia (cynv) | 27 comments Study some covers and see what hooks you about each one. Don't be afraid to go outside the norm either. Just because it is a romance doesn't mean you need the shirtless guy with half his head cut off...in fact, please don't go that route it's so overplayed!
I design my own covers and I usually peruse images to see what matches the theme of my book and catches my eye. Then I design around that. When I make covers for other authors I don't require you have an image already (though it is helpful) but I do ask you have a general idea of what you're looking for.


message 32: by Joe (last edited Aug 11, 2016 12:14PM) (new)

Joe Jackson (shoelessauthor) I went with "screenshots" of moments from each of my three books for the covers. I like the reaction of readers when they say, "I just got to the part that's on the cover!"


message 33: by Jack (new)

Jack O'Donnell | 17 comments I must admit I wanted a picture of my girlfriend when she was a very young girl for my novel Lily Poole. She was very beautiful and I thought, that's her, but I didn't get my way. The cover I did get was even better:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lily-Poole-J...

I'm sure that proves a point, but I'm not sure what it is.


message 34: by Heather (new)

Heather Weber | 23 comments Jack wrote: "I must admit I wanted a picture of my girlfriend when she was a very young girl for my novel Lily Poole. She was very beautiful and I thought, that's her, but I didn't get my way. The cover I did g..."

That's a super intriguing cover and sounds like a cool story!


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