A huge thanks to Tina and the ladies for hosting me, I’ve always had fun when I visit here.
One thing you might be surprised to know: in addition to being an author, I am also a freelance cover designer.
Some of my covers:
I loved the post you had back in July with one of the Love Inspired cover designers (http://seekerville.blogspot.com/2014/07/inside-cover-design-with-love-inspired.html ) and I thought it might be fun to show the difference in how one indie author/freelancer does it.
The biggest difference: I use stock art, not models at a live shoot. Although I’d love to, when I grow up…
It’s really important to understand copyright for photos, the difference between commercial and personal use, and licensing on the different stock art websites. That’s a whole ’nother post for another time. I will leave you with this sage advice: Read. The. Fine. Print.
Finding the right piece of stock art is one of the longer parts of the process. Not only does it have to be the right price for my budget, it also has to have a certain feel depending on what book the cover represents.
(Before I started creating cover art myself, I used to make funny faces at the cover art questionnaire for my traditional publisher, especially the question where it asks, “what is the mood for this cover?” and gloss over it quickly with some unhelpful statement, like inspirational, sweetly romantic. No longer. Now they get detailed information. Because there is a difference between, “they’re probably arguing, so sparks flying” and “she’s secretly in love with him”.)
I will spend hours browsing for the right stock photo to use as the backbone for my cover. Last year I stuck to sites like www.istockphoto.com and www.shutterstock.com but when iStock changed its plans and got pricey, I had to go elsewhere (hey, I have a budget and so do my clients!). This year, I found www.depositphotos.com, they have a great selection of photos and very reasonable prices.
Once I’ve found the exact right photo for the cover, say, this one…
…I create a new image file in Photoshop Elements and drop the stock art in. Don’t they just look lovely? This is actually a great image because it doesn’t need any tweaking before I get going on the cover. But sometimes the couple is right but the background is wrong. Or she’s supposed to have brown hair instead of blonde. In that case, I’ll spend time fixing what’s wrong. I can erase the background and drag a new one in, if needed. I can use the Color Replacement Tool to change the color of her hair (or dress, or his shirt). When you’re using stock photos, sometimes you have to accept something in the photo that doesn’t completely fit the story exactly… or find a better photo to work with. Because I don’t have models and because I don’t get to choose the clothes that these people are wearing, I’m more limited in what the final cover design will look like. However, you can always use a well-placed title to hide something you don’t like in the photo… :)
This photo is really great, and I’m going to use it as-is. Next, I need to have some idea where the different pieces of the cover will go (title, author name). This is a branded cover for Inspy Kisses, an author co-op that I belong to, so there is a flash line with our logo across the upper one-third of this cover.
It’s also part of our branded look to have the title in the upper part of the cover and the author names at the bottom.
Okay, the top half looks great, but those author names are impossible to read. What’s a girl to do? There are several tricks out there, like using a solid-colored box to highlight the names (or sometimes the title, if there isn’t a clear space on the cover for it). However, we used a Gradient on the first two covers in this series, so that’s what I’m going to use here. A Gradient is a way to fade something on the cover. It can add transparency if you’re folding two photos together, but in this case I’m going to use it as a solid color. I also use a small white gradient to made the blue sky behind the title disappear a little, so the title is more visible.
It’s looking pretty good, here! We’ve got a romantic couple, all our author names and a title.
But wait. This is a Christmas collection, so maybe we want to go even more wintery. I know! Let’s add an effect to get snow on the cover.
Um… but I don’t know how to make snow. I’ve never done it before.
Okay, I’m going to let you in one my Super-Secret, never-before-shared cover creator tip: YouTube. Don’t laugh! It’s a treasure trove of tutorials. Within a couple of seconds I have found two videos that look really promising, and I follow the instructions and voila:
This is actually just a picture of the Layer that has my snow. When all the other layers (titles and pictures) are visible, you get the full effect, but this is the snow by itself.
Now, just to add to the fun: That big, red gradient looks so… Plain. I use some special paintbrushes to create some snowflakes
and we’re there! Here is the finished product:
This is the final cover for our USA Today bestselling anthology, Mistletoe Kisses. We actually used this cover in a 3D boxed set cover, but I prefer the full-on cover shot myself.
Creating covers isn’t usually a step-by-step process for me (other than I have to find the stock art first!). Sometimes it gets circular. For instance, I flip-flop the placements of the title and author name. I go searching for fonts because what I have isn’t working. I try a different background.
And sometimes, I spend three hours working on a cover, and the author hates it.
But this is a process that I really enjoy. It uses a different creative part of my brain than writing or editing a book. For my own books, I’ll often create a cover while I’m still writing the book. Having the visual part of the book is a motivator for me and spikes creativity as I write.
So here’s a question for discussion. I recently stumbled onto a Facebook discussion where people were almost getting into fisticuffs over the answer: Do you love/hate covers with cutoff heads (borrowing my friend Regina’s cover as an example)?
Or prefer covers with the full hero/heroine on display?
A Cowboy for Christmas
After an accident leaves her injured, Daisy Richards stays secluded at her family’s Wyoming ranch to avoid the town’s gawking stares. Yet handsome cowboy newcomer Ricky White insists she can do anything she dreams—ride a horse, decorate a Christmas tree…even steal a man’s heart.
Once a reckless cad, Ricky is to blame for what happened to Daisy. Now reformed, he wants to make amends by setting things right for his boss’s beautiful daughter in time for the holidays. But Daisy doesn’t know Ricky’s responsible for her predicament. When the truth is revealed, will he lose the greatest gift he’s ever received—her trust?
Comment today for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card stocking stuffer. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition. And we're throwing in a print copy of A Cowboy for Christmas as well. Merry Christmas!
Lacy Williams (www.lacywilliams.net) is a USA Today bestselling author of 19 books and novellas. Her December 2014 release, A Cowboy for Christmas tells the story of one cowboy’s quest for redemption—and how it leads him to fall for the woman he handicapped. If you’d like to get a free ebook, sign up for Lacy’s newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/Tk-rn . Lacy is also the Managing Editor for Redbud Press, a new inspirational romance publisher. Find out more at www.redbudpress.com