Today we have a special treat for our readers. Cover designer, trailer creator, animator, and all-around cool chick Jada D’Lee has stopped by for a visit and to bestow a little wisdom about designing your book cover.
Designing Your Book Cover by Jada D’Lee
Ever wonder what goes into designing a cover for a book? I’m guessing you probably haven’t. When you see a cover, you’re drawn to the book if it’s pretty, it intrigues you, it’s sexy—or maybe you don’t care about any of that and you just like the smell of books. But that’s a whole other topic, though, so we won’t go there.
However, if you’re a new indie author, the topic of cover design is probably fresh in your mind. Let’s face it, when you lie in bed at night, envisioning the moment you become a published author, the image you see is the book cover. I’m assuming that the cover you see is something that’s also pretty intriguing and possibly something you’d like to smell as well… am I correct? Absolutely! It’s every author’s dream to be published, and so much rides on whether or not a cover will be liked. Readers can’t help it; most of the time they judge books by their covers. Which means all the time and energy you put into writing, editing, formatting—you name it—gets flushed right down the toilet if you have a bad cover! Eeeeeek!!!
Sooooooo, how do you get that pretty cover!? Hey don’t sweat it, here are some tips on how to hook up with a good designer and get started on that first cover.
First, the designer:
Ask around to see who other authors use, or if not, Google is your friend! Once you find a few designers, look at their portfolios and see if you like the work. Then contact the designer or scroll through their website to find out prices. Once you have established that you like their designs and they’re in your price range, send the designer a few emails. Get to know the person, give them a little insight into what you are looking for and what your book is about to see how they respond. If you feel like you’re talking to a robot and you have absolutely no spark with that designer, you’re probably not going to enjoy working with them. They may not “get” you.
However, if by the third email you find yourself joking with your designer, and she/he, in turn, is saying all the right things to make you smile, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve found a winner! *thumbs up*
Look, sometimes even the greatest designers out there just clash with an author, and it’s best to try to figure it out as soon as possible. You gotta be comfortable. Remember, this person is designing your dream!
Second, a great photo or illustration:
The easiest way to do this is to go to a stock photo site like istockphoto, pond5, colourbox, shutterstock, etc. Sometimes you can find a great deal, but if you have to spend a little more than you expected, usually you won’t regret it! Your designer will be a big help in searching as well, so ask questions.
Another way to get a great photo is to set up your own photo shoot. When I designed the cover for Animate Me by Ruth Clampett, not only did she do her own photo shoot but she also had the talented Juan Ortiz draw the illustration. That cover came out completely unique, and it’s definitely one of the most talked-about covers I’ve ever revealed!
And of course, the third option: combine both stock footage and your own photos. On the cover for Jeanne McDonald’s The Truth in Lies, not only did we use a stock photo of a beautiful woman, we also used the picture that I took at South Padre Island, about 20 minutes from my house. Hey, why not! *smiles* The combination came out beautiful!
Lastly, and this is a big one so listen up:
Don’t be shy! I repeat…DON’T BE SHY! *shakes a finger at you* You’re about to send a book out into the world for reviewers to read. There’s a good chance you’ll do book signings. For some of you, your second cousin on your mother’s side is about to discover you can write one heck of “love” scene! There is no room for shyness! *in Tom Hanks voice* There’s No Shyness in Book Publishing!!!
So why be shy when it comes to designing your dream cover? If you want a different color font, just ask! If you’ve changed your mind about the image, say something! If you want the added light effect side to move .0003 inches to the left and be brighter… well, you get what I’m saying! Just let your designer know! Most of the time, it’s something that takes ten minutes to fix.
Like I keep saying: It’s your dream, so make it a reality! I hope I’ve helped shed some light on how to get started, and if not… well, I did a good Tom Hanks impression in your head, at least! *jazz hands*
Good luck to all the new authors out there!
About the author:
Jada D’Lee lives in South Texas with her two amazing young boys, her best friend/loving husband Dirk, a mean cat with six claws on one paw, and a brown-nosing dog that’s a Beagle/Dachshund mix. Jada balances working, being an SAHM, and creating book covers, as well as designing book trailers. It began when she used to make banners and blinkies for fanfic authors and just escalated from there. And at some point, while she jumped from Texas A&M to UTB to Texas State, she slithered into the hobby of graphics design like a boss. When Jada is not designing, you can easily find her having coffee with her friends or siblings, swimming at her parents’ home, hosting Cub Scout meetings, on Pinterest planning a birthday party, or sitting by her backyard fire pit, having a glass of red wine at the end of a day.