“You can’t judge a book by its cover”. This is true but you can decide if you want to purchase that book by its cover. In my line of work judging the cover is what it is all about. I am a Cover Artist. I currently work for several online Publishers: Siren Publishing, Damnation Books, Wings ePress, PawPrints POD as Art Director, Whiskey Creek Press, as well as several Independents that self publish.
When I first started doing cover art I really had no grasp of the importance of the cover art and how crucial it is that the cover remains true to the story. Like so many others out there I just assumed it was simply a way to display the title and the author’s name. That line of thinking fell away as I created my first few covers, and I am happy to say those first few Authors are ones that I still work with to this day, 6 almost 7 years later.
When creating a cover I am provided with an Author Information Form that has all the details such as character description, brief story detail, setting, key items, and things of this nature. If it is an Author I have never worked with I will visit their website or blog to get a feel of what sort of covers they have had in the past and for their writing. I contact them to introduce myself and let them know that they are in good hands, inviting them to share any thoughts or ideas. I do believe in making the Author a part of the process when I can. They know the story best and that after all is what we are going for, a visual reflection of the story. Of course the other goal to keep in mind is something that will sell your book.
Things to keep in mind when going over your cover art. Simple is better, if someone cannot make out the image they will simply move on to the next cover. A lot of covers spend most of their time on the internet in a thumbnail view. The title should be crisp, clean and clear, Authors name the same way. If it is too hard to read, they will move on. My goal is to create something that will stop someone in their internet tracks for a closer look. Sometimes a scene from the book is requested, which can work out well if done correctly but often turns out too cluttered or busy if too many elements are added. Time period is also very important to reflect on the cover. I have seen a few books that were Historical that had covers with current technology or clothes on the front; this is not what we want.
As a cover artist we have the impossible job of creating an image from the mind of someone we have never met, about a story we have never read. This is a challenge I face daily with great pride and honor, it is one thing I love about what I do. To receive and email that says, “Yes!! That is it exactly!!”, “How did you do that? It is perfect!”, that is what I am going for! I have met many wonderful people over the years and made some fantastic friends as a result of a cover I created that reached them on some personal level, or reflected something they were feeling at that moment. I have even had a bagel special delivered to me with strawberry cream cheese as a thank you, which still makes me smile! An email from a first time Author who has just gotten their first cover who writes that they are so thrilled they cannot stop looking at it, that is the biggest payoff of my job. When creating a cover I keep in mind that this is a story someone put a lot of time and energy into, something they are passionate about and I strive to reflect that in the cover. Every cover I have ever made is personal to me; I remember it, creating it and the Author who wrote it. I actually have a bookshelf that holds about 300 books that I have work the covers on, this is just a small drop in the bucket compared to all that I have done. Some are autographed, some are not but each and every one holds a special place in my heart.
In a day I receive information, go over it, and process it. Think about what I can create that will be not only eye catching but will reflect the story within, something the Author as well as the Publisher will approve of. For the Author it is personal, for the Publisher it is their business and this can be a thin line to walk sometimes.
So the next time you look at a cover, take an extra moment to appreciate it and all the work that someone may have put into it. With all of the information, the Publisher, the Author, the story content and key elements all rolled into one image that will either make you pick it up or walk away, that cover says a lot. Or the next time you finish a book, look back at the cover and ask yourself if you feel it did its job of giving you a sneak peek of the story. Was it mass produced with general images thrown together to make a buck, or is there passion and feeling in it? And Authors, please do not judge me too harshly on this bit of blog, I just make the pictures, I leave the words to you!