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Design time- Is your book cover worth a thousand words?

Posted by Brittany Lavin on Wed, Dec 01, 2010 @ 04:52 PM

by LinDee Rochelle

We write our books hoping to paint a vivid picture for the reader, with every thousand words. But when it comes to your book’s cover design are you at a loss to express your thoughts?

That’s OK. A talented author does not necessarily go hand-in-hand as an inspired artist. Cover design help is available, but knowing how to convey a vague image that hovers in the corner of your mind is not easy. And actually should not be necessary.

Oh, I can hear you now. “Then how will I get the book cover I want?” The Rolling Stones were right-on in 1969 with sage advice, “You just might find, you get what you need.”

A true self publishing author is left to their own capabilities or affordability to hire a cover designer. However, if you’re publishing through an independent publisher (such as Infinity) your book cover will be placed in the capable and creative hands of their design department.

As John mentioned last week (“Pleasing Color??? Matching Color??? There’s a big difference in the perception of colors!!!”) it helps to know the differences in processing, as your perception of the final cover will be more realistic.

I’ve had two book covers created by Infinity’s cover design department. How I presented my desires for each was completely different, but ultimately left the primary design up to them, with terrific results.

book covers2Sent artwork only

With the first, a cover design for Love in Bloom / A Collection of Works by the Women Writers of the Desert, the anthology created with my Phoenix writers’ group, one of our contributors knew an artist who donated an original watercolor for our cover art. We simply submitted the artwork and asked them to “fill in the rest.” The result was a striking and attractive cover. Love it.

 

Submitted vague vision

describe the imageThe second, for my upcoming book, Blast from Your Past! / Rock & Roll Radio DJs who ROCKED Your World! 1954~1979, I merely sent the synopsis, told them I wanted red and black, rather than the ubiquitous 1950s turquoise and pink, and let them have their way. Wow. Talk about talent.

Of course, you want to be involved with cover design. After all, who knows your book better, right? Actually, that can be a problem. A good book cover designer or publisher’s design department should be able to not only see what you see, but offer elements you may not have considered that make an effective, saleable cover.

With the knowledge that digital publishers work in Pleasing Color mode, below are a few tips to help communicate your design thoughts that will go a long way toward crafting the book cover you need, to help sell books.

L’s Seven Suggestions … for a great Pleasing Color book cover design

(with contributions from Infinity’s Design Department)

- Always submit an excerpt, synopsis, and author bio to your design team, with your “broad overview” for the cover; a general idea is better than minute details because their creativity is not inhibited and promotes the opportunity for a different POV. You may think the cover should help tell your story – that may not be what’s needed to sell the book.

- It’s OK to request standard colors, like red, green, blue, etc., and even helpful to suggest a “light” blue, “dark” green, or perhaps “bright” red; but again, with Pleasing Color processing, the various color hues are representational, and not available in exact matches to PMS (Pantone Matching System); so “cerulean blue” and “chili pepper red” are not realistic to expect.           

- Know who you’re working with – digital design departments are not comprised of freehand artists or illustrators (who may retain rights to their art), but they are master designers who manipulate royalty-free stock images and art to create a custom cover for your book.

- Feel free to suggest an online image or submit a copy of a cover you like; but realize that in order to make your book unique, there may be subtle-to-significant changes. Have you ever mentally dissected book covers at the stores, to discover you’ve seen that stock image before? Even traditional book publishers use them. And yet, most readers aren’t trained to see separate elements and won’t even notice.

- If you must offer details that you think are important to selling your book, realize that you will receive something as close as possible in stock imagery. However, any key changes may not be due to the unavailability of the image, but as a result of a designer’s expertise in creating a cover with marketing in mind.

- Be accessible for questions (especially via e-mail) by your design team. We all want our books published ASAP, but when a cover issue arises and you’re not available, time is lost.        

- When your proof book arrives, try to look at the cover objectively; not with your preconceived idea of what the cover should have been, but what the designers are trying to tell you (and your readers) with their concept.

There are hundreds of thousands of online stock images – and your designers know what to do with them. In digital book cover designing it’s the tweaking to blend, enhance, change colors, layer, crop, which gives the design its personality to fit your book, stand out as unique, and entice readers.

I consider myself a relatively creative person, but could I design a book cover? Heck no! However, I know a good one when I see it, and appreciate the talent that went into creating it. Have you hugged your book designer today?

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5 Easy Steps on how to get a book published

Tags: infinity publishing, infinity, books, authors, book covers

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