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Book Covers

I just uploaded a few of my old book cover ideas to my Ko-fi page. I went through a phase, partially inspired by fantasy book covers that sported intricately designed objects, and partially inspired by wanting to highlight different art styles from the peoples found in the Wellspring Dragons world. I ended up choosing something simpler, where I would not be covering the design with the title, which needed to be much larger than I originally anticipated.

Book covers are very important, since they’re the first exposure most people have to your writing. I did a lot of examples, and reworked them, until I created something I liked, and that had a title large enough to be seen in the small preview found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I was happy I did not have to purchase the cover from a vendor; I scanned sites, to see what was out there, but few seemed geared towards fantasy, and I encountered nothing that I thought came close to representing my stories.

Book covers are difficult, because you need an eye-catching cover that in some way represents the contents of the story, but isn’t so busy that the title and author blend into the image. You need a large title, one that can take up to half the cover, and a smaller but still prominent author name (unless you’ve a readily-recognized author from best-seller lists. Then you take top billing). You need a relevant image; readers take cues about the content of a book from what’s on the cover. If you’ve written a sword-and-sorcery book, but slapped a cute picture of a puppy on the front, that’s going to send the wrong message all around (and probably get your title pulled for misleading readers).

I perused a ton of websites, and found many to be less than helpful, with some bloggers more interested in insulting cover designers, especially indie ones, than providing any information other than “hire me to create your cover and you’ll probably sell more books”. That gets them clicks, I suppose, but it doesn’t help people like me, who are searching for information.

The most influential post I discovered (because I remember what it said, which I can’t say about most of the other articles I read) is this this one by Clayton Noblit on Written Word Media. He presented the information in a simple way, and showed, by comparing covers, what one needed to do to create something viable for the e-book market. The visual comparisons really stuck in my head, especially the first one concerning a too-busy cover. He did not belittle, either, which I found refreshing. Indie author doesn’t mean stupid or talentless. It means we have the drive to take this all on ourselves, and are willing to learn and employ new things in that pursuit.

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