Let’s talk about book covers! I would argue that book covers are the most important aspect to ensuring your book is picked up. These are the shiny, sparkly things that draw a reader into looking at the blurb. You want to have a killer blurb too, or people won’t read it, but that’s a blog for another day.
So how do you catch someone’s attention? By finding the perfect cover artist of course! I could give you the generic “How to make a nice looking book cover” but let’s be honest, I’m not a professional. I went to school with a slight bit of graphic design and marketing, but really let’s let the professionals do the talking, shall we?
Step One – Decide “real” or “illustration”
*snerk* Sorry, can’t get over that I’m writing blogs on this stuff.
There’s really two different types of covers you see on books. Yes, I know, every book is a pearl inside of an oyster, but let’s be realistic here. They all fit into two categories. Photoshopped images, or illustration.
Easy peasy right?
In general, you really want to look at other books in your genre. Are you publishing a contemporary romance novel? Probably want to go with an actual picture, therefore, you’re going to go photoshop. People in this genre have come to expect seeing actual people on the covers, and that’s the kind of books they want to buy. A great example of this is the book to the right. Ella Linden’s covers are simplistic, beautiful, and bright. That’s generally where you want to go.
Now there are also other genres that utilize photo-manipulated covers on a regular basis. The most often one seen is in the paranormal genre, including the paranormal romance genre. This can go either way, namely because werewolves and vampires can sometimes be illustrated just as successfully. But in the generic Urban Fantasy world, you’re more likely to want to try photo-manipulated.
Let’s talk about the pros and cons of this type of cover!
Since you’re on my blog, I assume that you also read fantasy and paranormal (cause that’s what I write). Because you read what I write, you’ve seen my covers over and over again. But you’ve also seen the kinds of covers I’m talking about.
There’s a certain amount of recognition that comes with using an actual human face. People are comfortable looking at something which is easily understood by our brains. The pictures are usually high quality, sometimes the hair is painted, but we know the person on the cover. That’s definitely a person. That’s definitely a background we’ve seen before. Etc etc. Human brains like things that are familiar to them. It’s the same reason why we don’t react well to robots that look too human. There’s something still off about a robot even if it’s the most lifelike one you’ve seen. It’s even got a name. “The Uncanny Valley”. (Who says you don’t need the stuff you learn in school, am I right?)
In aesthetics, the uncanny valley is the hypothesis that human replicas which appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit feelings of eeriness and revulsion among some observers
But the cons is that you also can’t really change everything. No one is a wizard, and unless you’re willing to pay with your first child, some things are just out of your reach. Namely? Outfits. Can’t do it unless you find someone who can also paint in photoshop, and then you’re really going to an illustrator anyways.
But I digress.
Now let’s talk about illustrated covers! We’ve all seen these. The ones that look as though they have a fairytale crawling out of them. The ones that make us think, now wait a second that’s a pretty book.
These are mostly in the fantasy genre, though I’ve seen science fiction books creeping in there as well. There’s something to say about creating a fantasy element just from ragged clothing, a brush, and something that looks like it might be entirely impossible.
The pros? First off you get to work with an illustrator. I’ve worked with two in my career, and countless artists. Let me tell you, it’s one of the most rewarding and awesome privilege that a person can get. Not that working with photoshop artists isn’t! They’re fantastic and highly intellectual people as well. But for me, personally, I love working with an artist.
Maybe it’s because I wanted to be one and then ended up as a writer.
Anyways, illustrator cons! Cause as much as I love them, there are some.
#1! Perspective. Hey not every artist is perfect, and you might absolutely love their work but if they haven’t studied the human body you might get something that looks…. off. Uncanny Valley remember? Or worse, you might get it, love it, publish it, and then someone messages you and says “Hey you know your main character on your cover has a giant wedgie right?”
You never know! We get rose colored glasses when it’s our characters. They’re OURS we CREATED them. They’re perfect!
And lastly, you’re also looking at $$$$$$$$. Most of the time. Cause Illustrators are usually more expensive than photoshop artists, namely because they’re creating something out of nothing.
So how do you find one?
You know how there are questions you ask and everyone has a different answer?
this is one of them
Personally, I have two go to places when I’m searching for cover artists.
First stop: http://www.deviantart.com
You’re going to say “WHAT? EMMA.”
For me, it was actually that easy. I wandered onto Deviantart, I clicked on photo manipulations, and then scrolled to my hearts content until I found someone with a style I liked. That happened to be Mirella Santana who is one of the most talented photo manipulation artists I’ve seen in forever. I messaged her, she happened to be cool with making cover art, and voila. Problem solved.
Second stop: http://www.tumblr.com
Okay I know there’s probably a lot of people saying “what is tumblr” or at the very least “tumblr is full of a bunch of kiddos right?”
Wroonnggg. I realized really quickly that tumblr is actually full of a bunch of incredibly talented artists who haven’t been found yet. And me being the incredibly dodgy and stingy person that I am, I snatched them into my pocket hella quick.
Anyways, those are my two “go to” places to find artists. Not necessarily all of them are cover artists, but I think it’s important to have some kind of “fanart” (even if it’s paid) for your book. Not to mention actual fanart! Be that “Hey your character looks like this in my head” or “hey I made a gif set for you!” That kind of stuff is like an instant shot of adrenaline for authors. We LOVE it that you’re thinking of our books.
Did I cover everything?
BA DUM TSH
No but seriously, I got everything right? I’ll be rolling out a cute little interview with my new cover artist but no spoilers until we’re ready to rock and roll. Just as a heads up, she’s insanely talented, I found her originally through deviantart then tumblr, she works on faeries, and lives in England.
THAT’S ALL YOU GET.