Taking Charge of Your Cover Art
In the world of traditional publishing, authors typically have little say over what goes on their cover. While this may sound scary (it certainly did to me), there’s a good reason for it. Most writers have a poor grasp of graphic design.
Yes, there are exceptions, but even with all the great tools we have at our fingertips today, browsing indie bookshelves often means having to sift through a sea of bland and amateurish cover art. An eye-catching cover can make an enormous difference in getting readers to crack open your book, so what’s a self-published author who isn’t a professional graphic designer to do?
Knowing your way around Photoshop never hurts, but don’t get cocky. When it came time to get the cover art created for Dead & Godless, I started by slapping together a mockup using my own design skills. While it wasn’t the Mona Lisa, it did give the pro whom I hired a clear picture of what I was going for. And don’t hesitate to hire a professional artist. It’s almost always worth the investment.
Whether or not you create a mockup, the artist you hire is very likely going to listen to your ideas, even if your ideas are terrible. As such, you would do well to understand some key principles of design.
For most potential readers, their first glimpse of your book will be in the form of a thumbnail. You’re going to need an image that stands out and a title that stays crisp and legible, despite being shrunk down to a mere 90 pixels in width. Contrast is your friend. Use a face if appropriate, as studies show that nothing draws the eye more than a person’s face. As for your fonts, try to resist getting too artsy. Big, bold and instantly readable is the way to go.
If you’re publishing a print edition of your book, be aware that there are a few issues that the ebook-only crowd don’t have to worry about. Does your cover art make heavy use of dark colors or black? Printed images always turn out darker than the native graphics on your computer screen, which means that unless you want to lose a ton of detail, you need to lighten up the print version of your cover. With Dead & Godless, I cranked the brightness up thirty percent. Only then did the paperback match the look of the ebook original.
Blue hues can also be a problem, since the switch to CMYK color (the color setting used by most printers) has a tendency to turn deep blues into purples. There’s no perfect solution for this, and it may not bother you at all, but if you want to lessen the effect, try tossing the image into Photoshop and editing the color balance, strengthening the greens. The result may look a bit turquoise on your monitor, but it helps preserves the blues when printing.
Lastly, if you’re using a print-on-demand publisher such as CreateSpace, keep in mind that the cut of your book will vary. What this means is that elements which appear perfectly centered on your native graphic may be slightly off-center on your paperback. You want art that allows for some wiggle room. Avoid design elements such as frames or borders around the outer edges of your cover, as it will be very noticeable when an uneven cut leaves one side shorter than the rest. Also, keep your text a safe distance away from those edges.
So does the process of getting your cover art created may sound like a hassle? Does it sound fun? Hopefully these guidelines will help you make the most of your book’s presentation!
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Christian Fiction
Rating – PG-13
Connect with Donald J. Amodeo on Twitter