One of my followers asked a simple question. How do you create covers and how important are they.
Well, in my opinion, covers are just as important as the body of work. In a way, it may even be more important since it is generally the first thing prospective readers will see. Its important the cover reflect the content. The goal is to capture the attention of the reader to get them into your work.
An important element is that it matches the theme of the book. If you’re writing a scholarly work, you want to choose a formal format for your cover. If your novel is quirky, you should focus on a quirky title and cover. Romance? Same thing. Mystery? Same thing.
You can design the cover yourself if you have the skills, although most traditional publishers will usually work with you to create an appropriate cover. Independents using platforms like KDP, Smashwords, etc. will find cover creators as part of the process. You pick the format and upload.
It’s pretty seamless, although I fear the “standard” fare offered tends to make a lot of books look alike.
I’ve done it both ways with my books. Xulon created the cover for Heaven Shining Through although I provided the original artwork. They cleaned it up and chose the typeface to come up with the cover.
In my mind, I had a vision of the sun’s rays peeking through the clouds. I actually caught one of those moments while driving along the back roads of Maine. I sent the original to Xulon who cropped it and came up with the cover. It was appropriate since the opening of the book was “I was driving alone on the dark black asphalt, seemingly darker because of ominous clouds on the horizon ranging from steel gray to puffs of white. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of white as the sun tried to peek out from behind the clouds. It didn’t succeed, but first a ray rained into the picture, followed by a halo of rays.”
I independently published Wisdom From a Father … one dad’s thoughts on life. I was proud of the cover, which features a photo I took of Marshall Point Lighthouse in Port Clyde, ME. The long planks hopefully invite readers to the lighthouse and, in turn, to open the book and choose their own path and pace. The type — Edwardian Script — was chosen to be personal and intimate. The combination blends the illumination, resilience, and comfort of the lighthouse with words that hopefully guide, build inner strength, and give hope. Wisdom From a Father is a reflective look at life, segmented into chapters. The words are updates of posts made right here on my blog. I’ve chosen 52 so readers can use the book as a weekly devotional if they so choose.
Initially, I independently published My Name Is Sam … and Heaven Is Still Shining Through. I also designed that cover, incorporating the basic points of the book. It included a similar sun’s rays peeking through the clouds but with bolder brighter colors — pinks and blues. A woman is seated at a bench overlooking the sunrise over the ocean. It featured a specialized script text and clearly defined the content as a fictional memoir.
I liked the way the cover came out. It was bright. It was different. It captured the essence of the novel. KDP, however, the platform I chose, had a problem with the e-book conversion we couldn’t resolve. We tried. KDP staff worked on it. I changed things like pixels and sizes. We managed to eliminate a lot of the white space, but not entirely.
I decided to switch to a small publishing house, Higher Ground Books & Media, which came up with a revised cover that still captured the essence of the story. It is softer than my original, which plays into the softer side of the novel. It also fit the KDP criteria.
Higher Ground Books & Media of Springfield, OH, is an independent Christian-based publisher designed to provide a platform for authors to share their stories and empower others through storytelling. The small stable of authors features work that is inspirational, motivational, or educational, in both fiction and non-fiction genres. It is my hope the switch – coupled with self promotion – will kick start the latest novel and introduce my work to a new audience. New links are at the HGBM Store, Amazon, or Kindle.
So, the answer to the question about covers is you have to pay a lot of attention to them. My advice would be, after you’ve completed your manuscript, read your book a final time as a reader, close your eyes, and create an image that sums up your story. That’s your launch point. If you’re creative, run with your idea. If not, find someone who is to bring your vision to life.
Hope that helps.
All three books are available on Amazon and right here under the My Books and Projects tab.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: The highest reward for your toil is not what you get for it, but what you become by it. — John Ruskin