Friday, March 11, 2011

Making Your Own Book Covers

Sometimes I fall into what I consider the "daydream trap."

I start thinking about what Amazon reviews I'd get for a MS I'm working on, or I imagine what the perfect cover would look like. I pretend the book is on my shelf, and I dream up scenarios where people I knew in school who looked down on me randomly run into me, gush about this "amazing book" they read, and I'm like, "Yeah, I wrote that book." I concoct imaginary scenes in bookstores where I am recognized and approached. You know, silly stuff.

But sometimes it IS fun to do more than just write. I love everything about books--where you get them (bookstores, libraries), what's on the cover . . . I like to dream. And I like to dabble.

And if I could do one thing besides write the book, I'd want to design the covers. See, I have this thing about book covers--I love looking at them, I love finding pretty new ones, and I love imaging what mine will look like some day.

So yesterday I indulged the daydream a bit and made a mock cover for one of my finished books that I'm hoping to query one of these days (whenever I finish editing it!) ... I don't have money lying around to buy stock photos, and I'm very OCD* about stealing images or "borrowing" them so I just used a photo I'd taken of my sister a few months ago. It's not exactly my first choice for the book cover, but it works. I really like the parasol, which is a leftover accessory from my wedding a few years back. The title is also a working title. But, ah well. I think it turned out rather well. I played with the colors a bit in an editing program, threw some text down, and voila.

What do you think?

Now, I'm no expert at making covers, and as such I can't see all the ugly problems that I'm sure it has. I've never had a single class in cover art or graphic design, so I'm sure there are a lot of flaws in this. I DID try to limit myself to 2 fonts, haha. I know that much. And I'm not 100% satisfied with it either--I fussed with where to place "A Novel" for FOREVER, for instance, and I'm still not sold on the place I picked in the end. Also I feel like my pseudonym should be more readable. Maybe I'd add a little colored bar at the bottom to fix that. Or something. And like i said, the picture is far from perfect, but it was something I had on hand and it was the best one I had that didn't show my sister's face (she is only 14, so I am OCD about posting her all over the internet too--yes, I'm one of those paranoid people) ... but I like it.

It makes me feel all tingly inside to look at it.

It makes the story feel more ... real.

Does anybody else ever dream up covers for their stuff?

* For real

PS ~ I'll confess I also spend way way way too much time on stock photo sites, picking out hypothetical images for hypothetical covers. It's a sad addiction.


  1. I think it's gorgeous! You did a fantastic job and the colors go so nicely together. Well done!

  2. Hmmm... I think it's as good as a non-designer can get at designing a book cover. You placed the text in good places, but the photography limits you some. (Not saying it's a bad picture; it's a fine picture. But when you combine photography and text, things get way trickier, as you know.) My one critique is that it's neither colorful nor bland; it's this middle ground that I don't think pops quite as well as one or the other.

    Eh, but I just looked at it again and now I kind of disagree with myself.

    It's WAY better than my cover attempt last year, so. If it was a contest, you would win.

    Oh, one other thought -- you should go for it and make your name a lot more prominent. Just to see how it looks. I think it would look more professional that way. Look at some other books and copy how they do the author name.

  3. @Jaimie Yeah the name is sort of throwing me.

  4. i like it. i like the three strong patterns, with the fourth quadrant being dark so the white letters of the title fit. i like the color scheme. i like how the leading lines of the parasol take our eye right to the title... which i always think should be where the eye is led. there is a purpose for coverart- to sell the book! i like how it feels simple, because that's how a lot of strong design feels.

    the main issues i would have are the same as yours. if you already cropped this image, you could recrop, pulling back, add a gradient darkening wash to the very bottom so that the bottom border is darker, then your name would show more... and pulling back could give you that extra room on the title side of the design so that you could slide the "a novel" up and to the side a bit more so that it is framed by the swoop of the "g". but that's just what i would do...
    i hear you on the cover love... and i've really been thinking about trying to get into cover art or illustration, too! what a coinky-dink! :)

  5. I think it's gorgeous. The only thing I'd change is the name at the bottom--it's kind of hard to read.

  6. GREAT job! I wouldn't worry about posting your sister all over; it's not like her face is showing or anything. I'm an artist, and I love the way the lines of the parasol point to the title, and I actually really like the placement of "a novel."

    Yes, if the name could show up more...a diff font, or have it larger, or outlined, or something. Maybe like aspiring_x said--darken the bottom of the pic to make the name show up. Also, bump the name up so it's not so close to the bottom. Other than that--I thot this was a cover for a published book when I first saw it! Very nice. :)

  7. Thanks, everybody! I love the suggestion about what to do with the name. I was a bit stumped, but darkening the bottom and making the words larger would definitely help, I think.


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