Do you judge a book by its cover? Probably and that’s not really a bad thing. We all do at some point. It is just human nature. The cover is what pulls us in and gives us that first hook. But what is in a cover? That’s the tricky part. Recently, and for my last three novels, I’ve hired an amazing cover artist to create my book covers. CJ Douglass has been instrumental (and awesomely patient) in making my books stand out but I’ve recently been thinking of what it takes to make the covers so amazing. Here are the 3 she has made for me so far: Carolyngian Age Series
First off, a painted image is a great way to make a cover, it is personal and very old school/classic, but with time and cost usually a factor for most self published authors, it probably isn’t the way to go on an every cover basis. However, some of the best covers were done by artists with a paintbrush and canvas and they are masterpieces. Todd Lockwood, Sanjulián, Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta are/were some of the best.
I won’t even try to explain all the work that goes into making a cover because I only know a portion of that. I’d say that for every book cover you see on Amazon or in the store, that at least five or ten covers concepts were made and rejected until they found the right one. However, what I can speak on is from the writer and reader perspective and what I look for and what will draw me in.
So that central figure or image has to be on point. What that means could be anything. Battle scene, an attractive character, a menacing or evil character, a scary looking object or place. Maybe it is something abstract. Who knows but the main thought is that the focal point or central image will be the first thing that catches the potential customer’s eyes. The focal point can be created in a number of ways and any art student can help with the understanding of each but a great cover artist, like CJ, will have those ideas in mind as well. Its the techniques that make that focal point or image stand out from the rest of the background. It helps sell books but also to give a introductory idea into the concept of the story. I like, in my covers, to have the focal point be a little larger than background images, usually done by its placement in the foreground, and maybe have a contrasting color. Sometimes great covers have had the focal image off to the side and the artist uses a technique with converging lines draw the readers eyes to the image. This works too and kind of breaks up the monotony in covers.
The background images should also work well with that main focal point image. Maybe a setting from the novel or other characters. Perhaps it is a scene from the novel. Anyway it should bring thoughts of the overall atmosphere of the book. Color schemes help to evoke feelings or emotions toward a subject matter. An example would be in one of my novels, The Dead Queen’s War, there is a darker hue to the figures and some greens in the background which emphasizes the magical plague in the book and it gives more ominous tone.
Fonts are huge! Maybe not literally but in the overall work they are so important that they shouldn’t be an afterthought. Fonts need to be consistent with the theme of the book in my personal opinion. A Fantasy novel can have some great looking fonts that showcase Medieval writing styles or maybe Gothic overtones. Romance fonts can look whimsical or look more like script. Sci-fi fonts would have a futuristic vibe or maybe even look similar to the NASA design. Fonts can be played with but having the right font will tie the whole cover into a nice neat bow. It probably will be the final touch to the novel’s cover but it should not be thought of as an afterthought. This will be what the reader sees when they are looking for the author’s name.
So that’s that. My take on book covers. If you like what you’ve read consider giving it a like and share and maybe subscribe for more of my takes on books, sci-fi fantasy, films and writing topics.
Also please give CJ’s website a visit: Best Covers Ever!
For more info on my works please visit me at Joseph S. Samaniego