Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Exciting Process of Developing a Book Cover

Hello, Sandra here with some information I found really interesting and fun. How many of you have developed a book cover?  It is a different process today than it was when I first started writing in the eighties. In those days the publisher's had artists that they contracted to paint a cover and then they used the painting.  Today most publishers use graphic art. 

Book covers are one of the most important elements of your book.  It is what the person sees first and it must be so appealing that it makes the reader want to open that book. Therefore it is critical to have a 
professional and appealing cover.  

I needed a cover for Love's Miracles and I wanted one that appealed and looked professional.  So I hired a book designer who specializes in cover design.  It is my pleasure to introduce LENA GOLDFINCH of STONE LILY Publishing and Design Services.  She was kind enough to answer questions about the process of developing a book cover and she will be available today to answer any questions you might have.  

Lena also helped me put Love's Miracles in the print version on Createspace so if you have any questions about that process, feel free to ask away.  

Welcome Lena.

1.  How do you come up with an idea for the cover?  Do you read the whole book? Or do you ask for suggestions from the author/editor?

I read the description of the book first. I typically don't have time to read every book I design for -- I wish I did! :) -- so the book blurb is especially important, as well as any descriptions of the characters & story from the author/editor. Sometimes, other images that tie in to a theme in the book will emerge, like the daisy in Love's Miracles. The daisy I used for the ebook cover was also incorporated on the back cover and spine of the print edition.

Often the setting plays an important part in the design process as a landscape backdrop for the design.

background for Love's Miracles

Not always though. For example, my novel SONGSTONE is set in a fictionalized Pacific-island world, but the cover I designed has a tight closeup of the heroine.

2. Do you sketch out a design first and then look for the elements? 

I usually scout for images first. Sometimes the author/editor will come to me with sample images and that's always a big help. Samples of covers they like in their genre are also helpful as a jumping off point as I can get a feel for their vision for the book. Looking for images on stock photo sites is a lot like cutting pictures for magazins for a collage! I just start pinning or favoriting images and adding them to my Lightbox (a personal folder of images on a stock photo site). This is kind of a visual brainstorming session. I'm looking for key things: characters, setting, tone, colors,...

In the case of Love's Miracles, your editor presented me with several character images and these two seemed perfect. It wasn't until the actual design phase when I was trying different shots of them in Photoshop that I was drawn to this particular pose. Once I decided on it the rest of the design followed.

For Amber Stokes Bleeding Heart, we searched a long time for just the right model, with just the right expression/tone, and all the other elements. Once we did, it was like we both heard a little "ding-ding-ding!" :)

3. If you can't find a photo that entails all the elements you want, how do you proceed?  

Many times a background photo of the setting isn't quite perfect. For instance, in the search for images for Love's Miracles, I found this image of a remote cabin that I loved. The setting was also California, so I thought, "perfect!" but there were things about it that weren't perfect to the story. The original background for my comp cover (a quick low-resolution, just-to-show-the-composition design) had a shot of the mountains in the backgrounds. The remoteness of the setting was perfect but the mountains weren't. As you let me know, Sandra, the story is set near Fort Bragg, on the coast, and redwoods and a meadow play important parts in the story. Yet you thought the "lonely cabin" I'd found was nice. So I went on another image search and, using a little Photoshop magic, mixed in some other image elements to make the setting a little more like the story.

Trees were added next to the cabin
 For the cover of Bleeding Heart, the model in the photo we found was holding a bouquet of carnations. As part of the design process, we purchased a stock photo of bleeding hearts, and I added in a couple of springs of that to tie in with the title.

Bleeding hearts added to Amber's cover

4. What program or software do you use to make up your cover designs?

I use Adobe Photoshop. It's amazing!

5. Can you give us a little about your background?  

I majored in Math & Computer Science and was a software engineer for about 10 years. Which explains my love for all things gadget-oriented, including computer intensive tasks like photo-manipulation & interior book formatting. I've always been interested in art though and considered it as a major when I was a teen. Now as an adult, with teens of my own (how did that happen btw?? LOL), I've been able to return to my early passion for art and design. (It's never to late to follow your dreams!) I've been trained in cover design by working one-on-one with a fabulous mentor, Lisa Amowitz, a professional cover designer and graphic design college professor.

You can see her covers on Pinterest. Click here for romance book covers and here for young adult book covers.

LENA GOLDFINCH is a freelance book designer who specializes in books for young adults, fantasy, and sweet romance. Lena is also a Kindle-Bestselling author of young adult fantasy with a healthy dose of "sigh-worthy" romance. She lives in a scenic small town in Massachusetts with her husband, two kids, and a very spoiled Black Lab. In her creative heart, she travels far and wide to all sorts of exciting places, past and present -- which is a perk of making things up for a living! Her new release, SONGSTONE, comes out July 22, 2013.

And here is some exciting news. Lena is giving us a sneak preview of her cover for the print edition of SONGSTONE.  Fresh off the press.  Isn't it wonderful?

If you have a question for Lena, ask away and be put in for a drawing for a copy of your choice of one of my books. Another lucky winner will have their choice of one of Lena's ebooks.  Aire,  The Language of Souls or Songstone (when it comes out in July)

Lena brought along chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with walnuts --still hot out of the oven.   Walnuts are optional in case you're allergic.    Yum, thank you Lena.  

Hooray,  This arrived today.  The proof of the print version of Love's Miracles.  So exciting.


Helen Gray said...

This is timely for me. I've been told that the cover process will begin soon for my first book.

The coffee pot timer is set.


Playground Monitor said...

Oooooooooooooh cookies!

I'm in awe of not only the computer expertise it takes to do this but the artistic talent as well. It's not all technical. Thanks for sharing about the process and what a beautiful end product!

I'm hoping I'll soon have the opportunity to go through the cover process because I MADE IT THROUGH TO ROUND TWO OF THE CONTEST!

Voting is in progress and you can vote daily for BETTER AS A MEMORY here.


Vince said...

Hi Lena:

I really like the covers you have done. Your prices are very good as well. Can you tell us about what the cost of the stock photos would be? I know on some sites you need to buy a series. Do you have a contract to get the photos at the discount price?

Would you do a nonfiction cover that just has graphics you can make with the computer for the base price? I’m very interested.

BTW: I just bought two of your books on Amazon. Loved the blurbs. Both are on sale today!


Amber S. said...

Aaaahhh! This is so much fun to see my amazing cover designer and my wonderful client doing this post together. :) These two are super talented!

Lena is a whiz at formatting (for both print and e-books), cover design, and writing! I love her books, and I had the privilege of beta reading Aire and editing Songstone. Songstone is especially powerful - not to be missed!! I absolutely love working with Lena and cannot recommend her highly enough. ♥

Sandra, as you all know, is also a wonderful writer and an absolute pleasure to work with. :) So patient, so sweet, and so fun!

Also excited to have Bleeding Heart mentioned here - Lena and I had a blast working on the cover! (Well, at least I did, LOL! ;)) I'm so pleased with the finished product - it's perfect for the tone of the story! For anyone who'd like to learn more about the book (yes, I'm giving a shameless plug), you can visit the site HERE. Should be available in Kindle format near the beginning of August, with a print version to follow a few weeks later. :)


P.S. Vince, like I said above, I highly recommend Lena! I ended up paying $27 for the Stock photo of the model Lena used. :)

Sherida Stewart said...

All beautiful covers, Lena! You have a lovely talent.

Sandra, it's interesting to learn more about the cover design process through you and Amber working with Lena.

Jackie said...

Very pretty. Thanks for sharing the process with us.

If I don't like a book cover, I won't even read the blurb.

I'm not saying that's a good thing, and I don't judge people on outer appearances, but I do like a pretty book cover.

Jackie said...

Hey Marilyn,



Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi HELEN, So fun to see you still tooting that horn.

And YAAAYYY!!! You'll have your first new cover. I'm not sure how much say you will have in yours. Most publishers make that decision on their own although they do ask for initial input.

Let us know okay.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi MARILYN, I went and voted. Congrats on getting to the final round. Contests are what this blog is all about. WEll its how we started anyway and we've grown into so much more. Thanks to all of you. smile

And you are soooooooo right. Artistic talent plays a major role in cover design. LENA was wonderful to work with.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi VINCE, I'm with you. Here books did sound appealing and I downloaded them also.

She will be able to answer you better than I, but I was surprised at how reasonable the stock photos were. I had to pay for all four that made up the cover but I think it was less than $20.

You want to be sure you pay for the rights to use the photos since you are using them to sell a product.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi AMBER, You're the one who had to be patient. LOL

Thanks for the kind words. And thanks for introducing me to LENA. She has been great to work with.

I'm really excited for August when Bleeding Hearts will be out. I love the cover you and Lena came up with. Looks very historical.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi SHERIDA, It was super fun. These young women are so tech savvy and helpful. I can't tell you how much I learned.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi JACKIE, You are so right on. That is exactly why publishers spend a fortune on the book cover. Or used to anyway. They aren't as expensive now with graphic art, but in the days of the bookstore, the cover is what made a person pick the book off the shelf. Very important.

Now with online shopping, you rely even more on the visual draw of the cover. Very important.

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Enjoyable, informational post!

Thank you!

Yes, especially for we indie folks, covers are critical. We entered May's first book in a contest, expecting (of course) to do well. When the judging sheet came back, we had 4's and 5's on story and 1's and 2's on cover and first impression.

Sigh. I was happy with the first cover (Obviously. I approved it!) but it didn't resonate.

When I was ready for book 2 and decided to take the plunge with e-books, I hired a new cover designer. What a difference in "feel" - wow. Pawmazing. So I had her re-work book 1 to coordinate as a series.

So Lena, reading how you create covers was informative. If I do another series, keeping these ideas in mind will be a tremendous help. Thank you. And hey, we know about spoiled dogs around here. You speakin' our language!

FUN to see the Sandra/Amber team this morning first thing! Agreed - both covers are outstanding.

Great post to get the morning started! Thanks Helen for the coffee & Lena for the cookies. I'm ready for the day!! :)

Sherri Shackelford said...

True artistry!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks KC and MAY, Glad this information helped. Great idea to get your covers coordinated as a series. That is why publishers of children's books have their own illustrators so their products are coordinated.

Have a pawsome day. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks SHERRI, LENA gets all the credit for artistry. AMBER helped also.

Cindy Regnier said...

Beautiful cover Sandra - Thanks to Lena for her insights. I'm wondering if people are always necessary on the cover? I tend to want to form my own opinions about how characters look, that and I've seen some scenery photos that are gorgeous. Still, it seems that people on the cover are found nearly 100% of the time?

kaybee said...

I have nothing to say about covers, I'm still learning to write, but I did want to stop by and congratulate Helen on her contract. Way to go!
Kathy Bailey

kaybee said...

I have nothing to say about covers, I'm still learning to write, but I did want to stop by and congratulate Helen on her contract. Way to go!
Kathy Bailey

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi CINDY, There are many bestselling authors who just have flower bouquets etc. However their names are already known so people go directly to that author so they don't need a cover to attract a new reader.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks KB

Missy Tippens said...

How interesting! I'm amazed at what people can do with Photoshop. Nice work Lena. We're so glad you joined us today!

Karen Kirst said...

Hi Lena,
This was so interesting. Thanks for sharing your process. Love these covers!

Piper Huguley said...

Hello all,

Thanks for the cookies, Lena. Congrats on releasing your new book. The cover is striking.

I see Amber's cover and it is beautiful. Is it more difficult to get stock photos, images for historical books? Thanks,


Congrats Marilyn!

Lena Goldfinch said...

Hi, Vince,

Thanks for your question (and for buying my books! :))

Stock photos can vary in price from a few dollars (like the bleeding heart image we chose), to mid-range prices in the twenties & thirties, and on up. Some images on Getty Images can run in the hundreds, for instance. It really depends.

For my own projects, I budget about $50 for images.

There are sites where you can buy a subscription for a week, month, year, ... and prices vary there too.

Canstockphoto has an excellent deal where you can subscribe for one week and download up to 10 images per day. ($39) But that only works out well if you can find all the images you like on the particular site. If you find the perfect image on iStockphoto, then you'll likely be paying a little more.

Clients sometimes come to me with images already purchased (or purchase them in the process), or I can purchase images. Sometimes I have credits (a pre-purchased block) at certain sites and can get the images cheaper.

As for doing a non-fiction book, I haven't done one yet, but if you'd like to chat about it offline, you can email me. (lena @ lenagoldfinch.com w/o the spaces)


Lena Goldfinch said...

Waves and blows kisses at Amber! Your cover was a joy to work on. :)

Mary Connealy said...

Love the cover info.
Photoshop is one of those things that I would love to master.
I took a class on it once and learned just enough to be dangerous.

I don't know what happened but though I made a nice piece of image wizardry during that one class, when I got home, it just wasn't there, the knowledge.

I LOST IT!!!!!!!!!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi LENA, Great info you passed along to VINCE. This whole process amazes me. smile

MARY. If you don't use it you lose it. In my case, lose happens very fast. LOL I so relate wot what you are saying.

Elaine Manders said...

All these covers are stunning. As a reader I've always been influenced by the cover. Since I read mostly romance, I'm looking for a good looking couple. Sometimes just a good looking man will do. I think I bought two of Mary's books based on the cover alone.

As a writer, I haven't given it much thought, but it sounds like a fun process.

Please throw my name in the hat for a book.

Marilyn, I'm going to vote.

Lena Goldfinch said...

Hi, CINDY, I agree with what Sandra said. A lot of times florals or landscapes are effective when the author name is branded as "romance" already. I have seen new romance authors come out with a landscape cover, so it can be done. There are usually other cues to the reader that the book is romance, perhaps a subtitle, like "a Christmas Romance" or something like that.

But people covers are by far the most effective with consumers. (I forget where I read that stat though!) I think because readers connect with characters.

A nice couple cover can communicate "romance" to the potential reader very quickly. The poses of these shots should also communicate the tone and heat of the book, and getting that right is super important. A reader expecting a sweet romance is (likely) not going to be happy with a super steamy book, and vice versa.

Thanks for your question!

Myra Johnson said...

Lena, what fun to have you as Sandra's guest in Seekerville today!

The cover art process is so fascinating. My editor is working with me right now on the cover of the second book in my historical romance series with Abingdon. When the art department couldn't quite match my vision of the heroine with the stock images at their disposal, they found a model in town who is PERFECT and are planning to do a live shoot! I'm so excited!

You mentioned how the cost of purchasing stock photos can add up. I would guess cover art require really high-res versions of the images, so obviously more expensive.

Pam Hillman said...


I am SO there!

Oh, we were talking about covers... sorry.

LENA! So glad to have you in Seekerville. Haven't seen you in ages, but I've got pictures (somewhere!) of you, me and Jessica at RWA. What a fun week.

Love your cover art, and loved reading how you put it all together.

I'm an amateur designer...meaning I've designed for my own needs and family/friends events.

Usually as I start brainstorming ideas, once a visual falls into my head about where I'm going with it, I can't dislodge it! I designed fans for my son's wedding and one of my co-workers kept making suggestions on placement of the graphics, the colors, fonts, everything. I made polite noises, but my brain was already going in a different direction. lol

I'm afraid I couldn't design professionally. I'd be going, "But THIS is the one you need to use!" ha ha

Lena Goldfinch said...

Thanks, EVERYONE, for all the lovely comments and compliments! I wish everyone well with their new releases, contests, and getting those first books published!

I see a lot of familiar names from when I was a member of ACFW & the FHL chapter of RWA. :-)

Hi, PIPER, yes, historical images are much harder to find, especially to find the right one, because not only are you looking for a fitting character image, with the right tone, expression, & pose, you're asking yourself if the clothing/jewelry/hairstyle is appropriate to the era! A lot of the big Christian publishers do custom photo shoots and it shows. Some of my favorite covers are from Bethany House, for instance. Oh, all those gorgeous dresses! :-) You don't typically find images like that on stock photo sites. That said, there are some very nice historical images out there on stock sites (like the one we found for Bleeding Heart). You just have to be persistent and hunt them down.

Pam Hillman said...

Congrats Marilyn!!!

Piper Huguley said...


Ahh, so that's why Christian fiction covers are the leaders in cover art for historicals. Custom cover shoots! I always wondered.

No offense, but a lot of ABA historical covers strike me as kind of cheesy.

Your work on Amber's cover was beautiful, though. I love the flower images and how it all ties together. I try not to be influenced by cover art (that's just how I am, cp Elaine), and I try to read the blurb before I make a decision. However, I can't deny that the visuals enticed me into wanting to read these books. Very well done.

Thanks for answering my question,


Sandra Leesmith said...

MYRA that sounds so exciting. So you are getting a say in your cover art? Super duper.

PAM you are tooooooo funny.

Lena Goldfinch said...

KC: my dog says hi. :)

MARY: I'm sorry you lost your Photoshop skills! But you haven't lost your writing skills and that's what's most important!! :-)

MYRA: that's great news that your publisher is doing a custom photo shoot! So exciting. :) I hope you fall in love with the final cover. Yes, for cover art you want hi-res images, which are a bit more expensive. I like to purchase Large or Extra Large images on the stock sites. I look for images that are at least 1880 x 2400 pixels and 300 dpi.

Pam Hillman said...

Speaking of images... I'm not a professional photographer and don't have any desire to become one, BUT I do have some photos that I've taken that I personally think are great.

So, here's my question...or rather, questions...

What's your opinion on sharing photos so that others can use for cover art and/or online? As I'm typing out this question, it occurs to me that if someone has some really hi-rez photos that can be used in cover art, then they might not want to post it on a free digital site if it can be used to design a cover.

So, bottom line... every so often I take a picture that I adore and might be useful to others, but I don't know what to DO with it.

Lena Goldfinch said...

PAM! (waves vigorously!) I have pictures of you too from rooming together at RWA National the year we were GH finalists together (congrats on the win btw! :-)) It was so fun rooming with you and sharing in the excitement together. And, um, the lack of sleep. LOL

(Pauses to munch on a warm chocolately-chewy cookie...sips milk...)

Interesting on your design process. I too find the discovery process to be the most important phase. At some point I feel a little "click" of recognition that this is the one and just pray my client feels the same way about it! Fortunately with Amber, we both felt the image we landed on was The One.

So good to "see" you here! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Lena, so glad you could be with us today. What an interesting blog topic! Thanks for sharing what you do and how you do it. Amazing!

You are so talented.

Love your covers!

Lena Goldfinch said...

PAM: on posting your own images...I've never done that myself, but I have on occasion used creative commons images (aka free images) from Flikr, Wikimedia Commons, & deviantART.com for cover art. Typically the photographer will ask for attribution and in some cases for permission first. I always check their copyright requirements and follow them to the letter.

I'm very pro offering free images. When I was making my start and just learning cover design, I didn't have a lot of money to spare and having quality free images available for use as I was practicing was invaluable.

As for setting up a seller account on a stock photo site, I have a feeling it's not difficult. You'd just need to identify which sites you'd want to sell through and follow their sign-up procedures.

Good luck! :)

Lena Goldfinch said...

Thank you, DEBBY! :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

LENA, Question, What about PAM posting those photos on Pinterest? What are your thoughts on those photos? And are those photos available to use as I've heard?

Lena Goldfinch said...


Good questions!

Personally, I wouldn't use any photos pinned on Pinterest for professional/commercial use. I haven't checked into what rights you grant when posting your own images to Pinterest, but I suspect it's just the right for Pinterest to display the images, not for anyone to take and re-use them anywhere as they please. (Or, worse, claim them as their own work!)

Repinning is a different matter because it's all still on Pinterest.

To be safe, I'd read the Pinterest Terms of Service very carefully.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome Lena!!

Those covers and the cookies are WONDERFUL!!!

DebH said...

oh wow! great post and awesome covers.(songstone is eye catching - pun intended!) i'm going to have to wait to purchase lena's books on my Kindle (it's at home... can't justify shopping at work even if it's during lunch time).

as a graphic artist, i'm really interested in how you got started. creating books covers is something i'd love to do (i've always created my own since i was a lil' youngster, *heh*). may i contact you at your email as well? i'd love to pick your brain a bit more, if that is alright.

Mary: always feel free to send me questions about something you want to do with Photoshop. i'm pretty good at sending "tutorials" to friends who need some help remembering.

oh, put me in the running for books. always love those books.

thanks Sandra, for sharing Lena with Seekerville.

Sandra Leesmith said...


Can you hear me shouting with excitement? My first print book just arrived five minutes ago. Yippeee!!!

It looks great. Oh Lena, the cover on a book is just WONDERFUL. What a great job you did. I'm soooooo excited.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Good advice on Pinterest. I had heard that all images on Pinterest were free. But I think you're right. I think they are free to repin on the site. I'll have to go read that terms of agreement again.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Waving at KAREN K and ELAINE M. Thanks for dropping by.

TINA there are plenty of cookies - unlike red and black jelly beans.

Hi DEB H. I'm in awe. ANd I'm totally tickled that you made book covers as a child. That means you were writing them too. The ex-teacher in me loves to hear that. :)

Lena Goldfinch said...

{{{{SANDRA!!!}}} So glad you like the cover! (Hopping up and down here! Figuratively.) Send me a pic of you with the paperback in hand if you get a chance, ok? :-)

TINA: Thank you! I'm so glad to be here. What a lovely warm welcome. :)

DEBH: email away. Nice to meet you! I look forward to chatting more with you in the future. :-)

Helen Gray said...

What kind of permissions are necessary for photos we take ourselves of local scenery, houses, etc.?

Lena Goldfinch said...


You can use your own photos for whatever you wish, with a few caveats.

If you take a photo of a person, you must have a signed model release form from them to use the photo commercially. I've never done this myself, but I bet if you Google it, you'll find a template for a model release form online pretty quickly.

Using a photo of someone else's house... I'm really not sure. You may also need some sort of signed permission form from the owner? Ditto for displayed artwork. I'd tread a bit carefully here and do a little research online. There must be resources on photo rights issues out there.

I'm really no expert on the topic of photography rights, I admit. Sorry! I am pretty sure your own photos of nature are up for grabs. :)

Amber S. said...

Yippee!!! So excited for you, Sandra!! I'd like to see a pic with you holding the book, too, if that's OK!! :D

Blowing kisses back at Lena! You are amazing!!

And Piper, I'm so pleased the cover for Bleeding Heart drew you in! Lena did a marvelous job, and I'm absolutely thrilled with the design. :)


P.S. Waving to KC (and May)!!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Thanks for this exciting behind the scenes look at cover making! Really enjoyed it!

As I told Sandra, I really enjoyed "Love's Miracle". I'd recommend it to anyone.

How exciting to get your hard copy in your hands, Sandra!!

Enjoy the thrill.


DebH said...

glad to make the ex-teacher in you smile. yep. been writing and making book covers since 2nd grade. my sixth grade teacher had us write/create books to read to the kindergarten class for one English project. i had so much fun, I did two. Not sure where those old books are now though. Pretty sure they're molding away in one of my (too many) storage boxes *sigh*.

Lena - hope to pop you an email soon. thanks for your generosity!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi HELEN and LENA too, Two of my children's books were published and my girlfriend took the photos that illustrated them. (GOD'S SPIRIT WITHIN ME and GOD'S SPIRIT CALLS ME) We were able to use our own photos and no problem with landscape, buildings, etc. We could also use people if their faces weren't showing, i.e. seen from behind. We did have permission sheets signed for any people shown in the photos. This covers you legally. It was a very simple form we made up. If you want, I can email it to you.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh AMBER, this is all sooooooooo exciting. I will get a photo taken. I'm a mess now as have been playing pickleball. Will clean up and try to get that on this post maybe or I'll send privately.

And isn't that exciting that your cover has already invited readers? woo hoo

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi SUSAN, You are soooo sweet.

Thank you for the recommendation.

Yes, the behind the scenes world of publishing is very interesting.

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

How fun! I love learning how a cover of a book came to be. I've got lots of ideas for my covers, someday!

Thank you for sharing!

Chill N said...

Lena, how fun to walk through the process. A question: has the need for 'readable' thumbnail photos (such as on online book sites) influenced your designs? Any tips?

Nancy C

Lena Goldfinch said...


Yes, absolutely, the thumbnail size effects the ebook cover design a great deal. I always shrink my cover images down to thumbnail size to see what they look like.


* Choose one central focal-point image, something that's eye-catching and identifiable even at a small size.

* Avoid clutter and lots of small type. The text won't be readable at thumbnail sizes and often times isn't readable at the larger size you see on the book's product page.

* Focus on getting across: genre/story/character, tone, title, and author name. In that order. :)

[Unless the author is super famous, then I'd say to give the author name more prominence.]

[Note: some designers are experimenting with having no title or author's name on the ebook cover as those are displayed under the thumbnail anyway. It's an interesting concept. If done well it could really be great. But that cover image better scream "Click Me!" ;)]

* Choose colors that pop against a white background. (Most online book retailers are a sea of white background. Be sure to look at your thumbnail image and book-product-page-size cover on a white background. I will often look at several comp designs this way to determine what pops best.

* If you have a white or very light background, use a thin stroke line around the cover so it doesn't swim aimlessly on a white background.

* Another tip I learned from my graphic professor-mentor: squint at your design. Does the title pop against the background? If not, you need to tweak your font color &/or the font itself.

* Overly fussy fonts are going to hamper readability at small sizes. Choose fonts that are attractive and distinct (not the ones that come with MS Word, for example!), but very readable.

I hope that helps!

With print designs, it's different because the focus is on the physical book is going to look and that takes priority.

Connie Queen said...

I've made book covers for almost all books/book ideas. So much fun.

There is one I've had a hard time coming up w/a good stock photo. Title, "Killer at Kiddie Kampus." I envisioned a close up of an empty playground w/a merry-go-round, sandbox, w/closeup on a ball like it was dropped it an hurry. Couldn't find exactly what I was looking for.

I did find one pic I thought was funny. Someone had taken a pic of a toddler's hand coming through the sand w/a plastic shovel in their hand like they had been buried alive in the sandbox. Looked scary, especially if you changed the pic to black and white. Looked the kid was buried alive. But alas, it's the childcare worker that was in danger, not the kids. And after the shooting in Connecticut, the whole theme seemed careless and inappropriate.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I'm learning so much about covers these days. Lena and Sandra, thank you for this glimpse into how it's done, what it takes.

I have no eye for that kind of thing, but I know a good cover that's reflective of the story...

and draws a reader's eyes...

are in my best interests!

I'm leaving some fresh strawberry crepes for an evening feast, ladies. With real whipped cream...

And smiles!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hey LENA, I updated the post with my photo holding the print proof. wooo hooooo Its at the end.

RUTHY, the strawberry crepes are yummy. Real whipped cream too. Did you try Lena's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies? I smelled a fresh batch in the oven.

What a celebration.

Chill N said...

Wow, Lena -- GREAT TIPS! Thanks for sharing your knowledge! Now to go save those tips ...

Nancy C

Sandra Leesmith said...

Those were great tips weren't they Nancy? Have fun with those.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi STEPHANIE. Thanks for dropping by. Love your photo btw.

Sandra Leesmith said...

CONNIE that is quite a title I can just picture it. But I think you are right about being careful in this day and age. You might have the FBI knocking at your door.

Jenny Blake said...

thanks lena for the info I found it really interesting to see how you create a cover.

I agree covers in print books really sell a book. I have actually won a book that in a shop I would not have looked at because of the cover. The book infact was a great book but needed a great cover to go with it.

Lena Goldfinch said...

NANCY, good luck with all your book cover adventures! Glad the tips were helpful. For more on cover design, I like "The Book Designer" blog.

Link: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/

Looking at lots and lots of ebook covers helps to, especially in your genre and even better if on the bestseller lists. ;) I think you start to develop an eye for what works.

Lena Goldfinch said...

Thanks, JENNY!

Sandra Leesmith said...

That's a great idea LENA to look at bestseller ebook covers.

Did you see the photo? ;)

Waving at JENNY

Lena Goldfinch said...

SANDRA, thanks so much for posting the photo of you with the print edition. So exciting!! :-)

Lena Goldfinch said...

RUTH, those strawberry crepes were absolutely delicious. I need to get your recipe! ;-)

Audra Harders said...

Lena, you have such an artistic eye! I love your covers. Thanks for walking us through the process of piecing together the cover for Love's Miracles. I've heard Photoshop is amazing, but I have enough trouble TAKING the photo much less manipulating it, LOL!

Beautiful work, Lena. Thanks for sharing!

Lena Goldfinch said...

Thanks, AUDRA! That's so sweet of you to say. :)

Julie Lessman said...


LOVE this post, but then I LOVE anything to do with covers ESPECIALLY when the book inside is as AWESOME as Sandra's book is, and the cover is PERFECT for it, Lena, so major kudos!!

My hubby is an artist and he did my cover for one of my books, so I'm betting Sandra was WAY easier to work with than I was!! ;)


Audra Harders said...

Julie! The cover Keith created for A Light In The Window was gorgeous...and he's used to working with his CDQ!!!


Sandra Leesmith said...

Awww JULIE, So sweet of you to say. And thank you for your part also. smile

And I'm not so sure I was that easy to work with. LOL

LENA thankfully had plenty of patience.

Loved your cover btw

Sandra Leesmith said...

I'm with you AUDRA. Taking a photo is a major undertaking. I usually cut off heads.

Have fun with your projects when you get to this point. You will find it fascinating.

Sandra Leesmith said...

LENA, Thanks again for visiting with us today and giving us so much interesting information. You have been a real blessing in my life and now others.

ANd those cookies were yummy. I think there's one left to have with a cup of hot chocolate. yum

Sandra Leesmith said...

Don't forget to check the weekend edition for the winners of one of LENA"s wonderful books.

Mary Preston said...

Covers are so very important. I am most definitely one to judge. A most interesting post thank you.

Lena Goldfinch said...

Hi, JULIE, thanks!

SANDRA, you were a dream to work with. Thanks for having me here on the blog! :)

Thanks to ALL OF YOU for your warm welcome, the delicious goodies, and your fabulous questions.

Marianne Barkman said...

Wow, yep, Lena does great work. Sandra, looking forward to this new novel. I also hope to see you next winter, but in January I'm going to Australia for our virtual retreat with Jenny. Oh, you'll be there to!

Sandra Leesmith said...

MARIANNE, Hope to see you both places.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks MARY P.