Wednesday, May 31, 2017

5 Things You Need for a Great Book Cover (And 5 Things You Don't)

with guest Rogenna Brewer.


In 2013 I dusted off my interior design diploma to venture into the art of book cover design…

My budget going into self-publishing from traditional publishing was a big fat zero. But I’m a DIY kind of gal and learned cover design and formatting and then bartered for editing. I enjoyed making covers so much that stock sites soon became my #1 form of writing procrastination.

Once I discovered there was a market for premade book covers I put ten up for sale. Within a week I’d sold two and doubled my investment. Within a month I had my first custom client. Four years later custom cover work keeps me very busy. 

Thank you, Seekers, for inviting me to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way. But before I get into that checklist of 5 THINGS YOU NEED FOR A GREAT BOOK COVER (AND 5 THINGS YOU DON’T), let’s start with a visual of my very first book cover, it’s evolution and where it went wrong…


[Please forgive the pixelation in the first two images, as I no longer have the originals.]

In One Night in Reno, a single mom on the run is stranded in Reno when a Navy SEAL comes to her rescue. It’s a sweet short story with a marriage of convenience and no sex. If I were writing and publishing it today I’d rethink that title. And maybe I’ll do that in the future or change the story in some other way, but for now, it is what it is…

My vision for the cover was a stranded heroine by the side of the road (and if I could work in the kid and the puppy, even better).  But I couldn’t find a stock image to match my vision and I wasn’t able to manipulate images at the time. So I settled for the hitchhiker that became the first cover. 

The clunky border and my amateur attempt weren't even the worst of it. This cover actually sold well, but to readers looking for something a lot sexier. I didn’t take too many hits in the reviews, but one gentleman did call me out on the cover…

Cover #1 failed because the image and title didn’t fit the targeted genre. 

Back to the drawing board…

This time I included the couple, the kid, the pup and the city of Reno. The gentleman who called me out even changed his review to credit this new cover as a better representation of the story. But sales came to a screeching halt. Aside from the awkward title and mash-up of images, something else was lacking.

Cover #2 failed because a romance cover, no matter the subgenre, needs…well, a romantic image. 

That’s not to say headless couples won’t work, they absolutely do with the right body language.  So do those with heads and kids and puppies and landscapes and objects. But the image or combination of images has to evoke some sort of emotion that connects with the reader.

And for readers of military subgenres, the hero is that all-important emotional connection. Once again my cover stood out as different and not in a good way.  

By the time I got around to cover #3 I was working in Photoshop and had learned a thing or two about making book covers. But I still didn’t know enough and was trying too hard to make the text stand out in thumbnail.

Cover #3 (along with advertising) got sales moving again. It hit my target audience of military romance readers. But it didn’t quite fit my story and my personal fail here was the typography.

I was still trying to figure out my brand when I came up with the cover that’s been on One Night in Reno since 2014. In looking at it now I’d tweak a couple things, but I have no plans to change it anytime soon. The beach background might seem at odds with the title, but it works for the story. 

Cover #4 is the right romantic image because it gives clues to the story. This cover lets the reader know that it’s a romance, probably a sweet romance and a serious one at that.  


[Okay, I couldn’t resist making those needed tweaks. Here’s the before and after.]


Whether you make your own covers or hire a cover designer, there are 5 things you need to keep in mind so that you don’t have to go through the trial and error of getting it right…

Your cover has one job and that is to sell your book. In order to do that job, it needs to make an emotional impact in the blink of an eye.  

#1 – You need a great Image(s): 

You need to start with an image that reflects your story. But you don’t need that image (or images) to be a catch-all for the characters and setting or an exact scene from your book. 

There are limitations to using stock images, so unless you can afford a cover shoot you may have to settle for something slightly different that what you imagined. Trust your designer and keep an open mind when searching for images yourself. There are plenty of professional photographers contributing to stock sites where you can find affordable royalty free images that will be good enough for a great cover. Rely on your designer and photo manipulation to makeover an image so that it’s uniquely yours.

Tip: When using people on your cover look for characters that are engaged in their surroundings or looking at each other and not directly into the camera. 

#2 – You need to know your Genre: 

You need to know your genre conventions and stick to them. Except when you don’t. 

Your cover needs to let readers know where it belongs and what it’s about. Don’t worry that it looks like other books in your genre. It’s better to fit in than to stand out. You’d know the difference between a science fiction cover and a romance cover, right? Well, within those two genres there are multiple subgenres and reader expectations. 

Study the covers within your genre. Check out the subcategory bestseller lists on Amazon and notice the similarities between covers within a category. You want to copy that look. But take note of the ones that stand out. It’s usually an exceptional cover or an exceptional story.

Know when to stand out. 

Right now on amazon’s military bestseller list, for example, 14 of the Top 20 covers are bare-chested men. The rest are sexy couples and one bare-chested hero with a baby. The hero / baby cover gets kudos for being “the same, but different.” But they all still follow the norm set by reader expectations. 

If you want your books to sell it’s risky to go against what the reader wants, but there are times when you might want to do just that. I deliberately went against convention in branding my SEAL It With A Kiss trilogy in order to target a more general contemporary bestseller audience. 



#3 – You need a great Title:

You need a great title or you don’t.  

A great title is all you need to sell a plain book cover. The problem is most of us will never come up with a title that exceptional. So we need a great cover to tell the story that the title doesn’t. The typography needs to work with the image, not against it. A kaleidoscope of colors and tricks and crazy fonts won’t make a title more readable. Subtle spacing and shading is all that’s needed to do that job. Look at the books on your shelf and on the more traditional bestseller lists. 

Keeping typography simple is key. 


It’s great when a title is readable in thumbnail, but it doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be at the expense of the cover image. There are clickable text links that are readable with the thumbnail. It’s better to have a cover that attracts the eye and gets enlarged with a click than one that’s overwhelmed by text. 

Tip: Use keywords to create your title, subtitle, series title and taglines.

I used to hate it when my publisher would ditch my clever, well thought out titles to use a generic version of…

The SEAL’s [fill in the blank]

Until I realized their keyword loaded titling approach was kind of perfect. It tells the reader exactly what the book is about…a Navy SEAL, and what military genre reader doesn’t love a good Navy SEAL story. 

So figure out the keywords for your subcategory and don’t be afraid to use them in the title and repeat them in the subtitle/series title and tagline.

When are looking for a specific type of book or an author or a title they use the search engine. And when it comes to search engines keywords are king.

#4 – You need your covers to work for your Brand. 

You need your covers to work for you and your brand. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every book cover.

You don’t have to be a household name to be a brand. As an author, your books are your product and your name is your brand. You want to keep your brand consistent even if your name isn’t recognizable yet–especially if it’s not recognizable.

Start with a good titling font for your name and use it across your social media headers, your web banner and on your book covers. Some authors even design their own logo or have a logo designed for them.

Branding, on the other hand, takes on the much broader scope of promotion with a distinctive design in mind. For me, with my military background and Navy SEAL heroes, that means nautical and ocean blue themes. 

Take a moment to think about your branding. Are you being consistent? And if you haven’t branded yourself yet, what themes come to mind that will tie it all together?

Your covers should be a recognizable part of your brand. You can do that by having at least one or two consistent design elements, like the font, size and/or placement of your name, carry over through all your covers. Each series can have its own look/feel and still encompass your overall brand. 

Tip: In traditional publishing, if your name appeared above and/or bigger than the title you knew you’d arrived. 

Brand-Name authors don’t need great covers to sell their books. But they deserve great covers and so do the rest of us. 

#5 – You need a great Designer. 

You need a great designer or you don’t, it’s up to you.  Just don’t settle for less than the best cover for your book. 


[Some covers from my portfolio that you might recognize.]



Thanks again for inviting me. I’ll be here all day to answer any questions you may have about cover design. But let's go back to branding for a moment… 

How are you branding yourself as an author?  

If you're a reader, what's your favorite type of cover?

Leave a comment today for an opportunity to win a $10.00 Amazon gift card so you can buy MORE books. Winner announced in the Seekerville Weekend Edition!


Rogenna Brewer is a Navy Vet who got her start as a romance novelist writing long letters to her deployed husband. She's a bestselling author of contemporary fiction featuring strong military characters and is a member of RWAs prestigious Honor Roll.

128 comments :

  1. Welcome back to Seekerville, Rogenna. So delighted to have you here. I know many of us utilize your services...because you deliver a great product.

    I brought healthy donuts today. They are! Carrot cake donuts. Iced coffee and sweet tea are ready. It was 101 in Phoenix today. Help yourself.

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    1. So carrots make them healthy, right :)

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  2. To me as a reader, book covers are so important. Not the whole thing that draws me in, but a big part of what first sparks my interest. It doesn't matter what's on the cover as far as people or not, pets/kids or not, full body shots or not, etc. What I no longer go for, because I read Christian fiction, is inappropriate dress (or state of non-dress) or various stages of two people in an intimate pose. It's an automatic turn-off for me.

    Once a book cover draws my eye, I'll read the back blurb to see if the storyline interests me, then I may read the prologue on the inside cover. The exception is if I know the author and like their writing, I'll just read the back blurb to see what the book's about & most likely will read it based on the authors name alone.

    I agree a good cover is essential to entice readers to pick up your book! And love the final one on One Night in Reno you did. Makes one want to know about the couple featured on there :-)

    Thanks for the Amazon gift card chance and talking about one of my favorite subjects...book covers! :-)

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    1. P.S. I'm leaving coffee cake on the table for those folks who want some :-) And a platter of fresh seasonal fruit for those who want a healthier snack!

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    2. I'm in on the coffee cake! Thank you, Trixi!!!!

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    3. Hi Trixi;

      Thanks for being her and bringing the coffee cake :)

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    4. Ooh, coffee cake. I don't drink coffee, but I can't very well turn down cake! Also, I agree- indecently clad people make me turn away quickly and keep walking.

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  3. I'd like to point out that Rogenna and I have been friends for over 20 years, despite the fact that she is Navy and I am ARMY!!! GO ARMY!!!

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  4. Covers are very important. It's also important that they actually do reflect the story. Just lately I am loving classic pieces of art on covers.

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  5. Thanks for this informative post, Rogenna. When I'm browsing book stores, the cover is always what prompts me to pick up a book and read the back cover.
    Recently, I noticed two Indie authors had the same book cover. I'm curious as to your thoughts on this.
    RUTHY, yesterday I saw PEACE VALLEY at our local Harris Teeter grocery store...so cool!
    Thanks for visiting, Rogenna!

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    1. Jill, it's sold out around here and in my head I keep saying "STOCK SOME MORE!!!!" ... I couldn't find any of them locally, which is good... and bad! I'm so glad Harris Teeter has it! I love Harris Teeter when I visit North Carolina... and Krogers!

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    2. Ruthy, over the weekend I was in grocery stores in three states and saw your book every where. Some place you were right beside Grisham. Way to go!

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    3. Me and John are AN ITEM!!!!!!!! :)

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  6. Rogenna, such beautiful work you do! Congratulations on this new turn in your career, what a talented woman you are!

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    1. Thank you, Ruth. So nice to see you again.

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  7. Hi Rogenna, thanks for visiting Seekerville. I've always studied covers, and if the book cover stinks I won't read the back blurb.

    The Sisterchicks book covers do a great job of setting the tone of the book. Brandilyn Collins did a great job with the Seatbelt books and covers that set the tone.
    I'd be heartbroken if I picked a stock photo for a book cover and found the same picture advertising laundry detergent or another book. It's so great that you can custom design book covers for others.
    Thanks for sharing today!

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  8. Rogenna, I know what I like in a cover and what I don't, now I know why! Thanks so much for giving us some serious criteria to evaluate what we're doing!

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  9. I love covers with kids. A dog , cat, horse is good in there too.

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    1. Hi Cathy; Animals and kids can definitely sell books. The problem is when they're slapped on as an afterthought and not part of the design.

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  10. Cover design is am important element of the book. The cover should give some indication of the book theme. I enjoy several types of covers such as rich colors and elegant fonts.

    Please enter me in the drawing for the $10.00 Amazon gift card.

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  11. Fascinating, Rogenna, how you were able to test out (and change) the covers of your book until they hit the intended target!

    Your cover designs are beautiful!!

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    1. Thank you Glynna. I pay attention to my sales trends and reviews. Not that I want a bunch of 3 Star reviews, but I've always found them to hold the most interesting and honest critiques :)

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  12. Rogenna, this is SO interesting and SO timely for me because just two days ago, my husband dropped the bomb on me that my latest contemporary Isle of Hope series doesn't look like other books in my genre, and I about freaked out.

    "What do you mean it doesn't look like other books in my genre?" I asked.

    "Pull up some others and let's compare," he responds, so I did. He finally relented by saying that he guesses he just doesn't like the feel of the books. Mind you, he's an artist and after I told him what I wanted, he designed the first cover for Isle of Hope. "Well, maybe I just don't think I did a great job," he finally concedes, pinning his discomfort about the cover on the fact that he insists he is not a cover designer.

    Anyway, I actually love my contemporary covers and think they are among the best of all my books, so his comments came out of left field for me AND had me questioning myself. Which is why your blog today is so very helpful, so THANK YOU! You have given me a lot to think about for my next covers.

    Hugs!
    Julie

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    1. Hi Julie;

      Sounds like you're married to a smart and talented man :) Loving your covers is important. I had to weight the merits of standing out against fitting in with one of my own trilogies.

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    2. Hi Julie, I love your contemporary covers. They portray a softness that should go along with love. I adore the pinks and the gradual change from cover to cover from pink with yellow to pink with lavender. I think I see the color in these covers more than I do the pics at first but then they lead me to the peaceful and deep water setting. They brighten and soften my book shelf. Tell your husband that one of your readers says "well done".

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    3. He is, Rogenna -- I am truly blessed. Which way did you go on the decision with one of your trilogies -- standing out or fitting in?

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    4. BARBARA!!! God bless you, you sweet girl, you -- I SO appreciate your kind comment! I actually love the soft colors, too, with just enough "bright" to pump up the romance, eh? ;)

      Hugs!!
      Julie

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  13. Hi Rogena and welcome to Seekerville. What a great post. You are so right about the importance of the cover. Vince has helped me greatly with changing some of mine. If its a romance, you want it to look like one. I like your covers. Great work. Thanks again for joining us today.

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    1. Vince and I have done some wonderful covers together. One of my favorites being his meta-data romance cover––I'll let him explain of share if he wants to do that. He's a man who knows what he wants :)

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  14. It's rather unavoidable to find duplicate covers isn't it? I've seen big name publishers use an image and then a small indie author use the same one.

    Not many publishers seem to spend the time and money on cover shoots.

    In fact, I have two covers with the same hero. Rocky Mountain Reunion and Safe in the Fireman's Arms use the same hero. So I am wondering where this guy came from. They put different hair on him for each cover.

    Anyone have any clue where Harlequin gets their stock photos from? (Although as Janet can attest, they used to use a cover artist for their covers)

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    1. Yes, and not something anyone should stress over. Stock art is a big part of this business. Even Harlequin and Harper use stock images. Especially when they reissue or rebrand.

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    2. Tina, it was great fun noticing that my second LIH had "Griffin" in tiny font on the cover. I contacted him through his website. He made a poster size replica of the cover for me. He explained that things had changed a lot from the days that he hand-painted covers and sent them to NYC wet. :-) The interview I did with him is here: http://seekerville.blogspot.com/search/label/cover%20artist

      Janet

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    3. That's hilarious Tina. I've never noticed they use the same hero...

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    4. Beautiful covers they were, Janet.

      Yeah. They took the Fireman and put a toupee on him.

      Check babies. They reuse babies. So much fun to look for that. Horses too. lolol.

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    5. Recycling is popular in publishing, too.

      Janet

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  15. As a reader, my favorite covers are the different ones, the ones that really stand out- and the ones where I can see as many characters as possible, even if only in the background. I like seeing characters.

    Of my own covers, I designed my superhero ones myself, trying to go for a comic book look, but I'm not completely sure I succeeded (My mom complained about the first version, so I supplemented it... and then she complained about my changing it). My paranormal trilogy were professionally done, and I think works the genre nicely (plus, with the heroine's scar, it's very unique). And my latest story is definitely a different cover- but it's a different book too. I was just glad to find a cover with a male model who had a shirt (can't imagine giving away anything else to my grandmas. Nope, not happening).

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    1. Hi Boo;

      Yes, covers that stand out in a good way can get the right kind of attention.

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  16. Hi Rogenna, thank you for writing this interesting and helpful post. I had not thought so much about covers having elements of your brand but it certainly makes sense, and also about how difficult it was to choose a title. Thanks for the thought provoking suggestions.

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  17. Hi Rogenna! Your post was informative and helpful for a visual person like myself. I liked seeing the evolution of your covers. I smiled when you wrote that designing covers became your favorite distraction. It's mine, too. I don't have Photoshop so I use Canva.

    I make mock covers for my books after I (loosely) outline them, before I start writing to give me a feel for the book. I then make a digital vision board that I use as my laptop wallpaper with the cover, a quote or two that reflects the theme, and some awards and amazon stars to pump me up. : )

    I'm drawn to covers that are artistic and pretty. I also tend to pick up books where the faces are close up, vs silhouettes or a couple from far away.

    The first cover I made for the book I just finished revising featured a couple at sunset overlooking a lake which fit my story but something was missing. Then I found a stock image of a woman who fit the description of my main character, sitting on a dock and there was something about it that spoke to me. I think because it was more reflective. The cover is more women's fiction and my book straddles the line between WF and CR. But like you said, it's important to fit your genre and your target audience.

    I love searching for beautiful images online. What are your favorite websites for stock images?

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    1. Jose, I'm also a visual person. I mock up my own covers before starting the books :)

      I have a list of stock sites in the sidebar of my cover website [ http://www.sweettoheat.blogspot.com ]. For contemporary couples peopleimages.com has some nice images in the $10 - $100 range that don't get overly used. If you want something really unique, sites featuring Getty images (not listed on my site––gettyimages.com), but they will run you in the hundreds of dollars. Most of the sites listed on my website are in the under $10 range and the two most common sites I use because I have subscriptions are bigstock.com and shutterstock.com.

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    2. That's great, thank you! I'll definitely check out your site!

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    3. Rhonda Starnes, does this too and she does a great job.

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    4. Josee, I apologize that I didn't catch auto correct before it changed your name!!!

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  18. On a side note...

    Look for...

    Royalty Free Images –– they come in all price ranges but are good for up to 250,000 ebook and print books generally (see the various site TOS for exact details).

    Royalty Managed Images –– will cost you upfront and per ebook/POD download. Way too expensive and too much book keeping for an indie.

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  19. Rogenna, this is so helpful. Every detail makes a difference. We have to give the readers what they're looking for, or guess what, no readers?
    Please enter me in drawing.
    It's raining here and cold for almost-June. I'm having a quiet day, hacking away at my WIP and hoping to address some contest and crit partner feedback. "Redeeming the time," so to speak.
    I haven't gotten into cover design yet and probably should, because at some point or other I'm going to do something indie. But I do think a lot about how my characters look and keep artist fact sheets for each story and series. Right now in my WIP, "A Hilltop Christmas," Jane, the heroine, looks sort of like a young Anne Hathaway, only with green eyes, and Noah, the hero, looks like Chris Hemsworth (Thor).
    May be back later,
    Kathy Bailey
    May check in later,
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kathy. Who wouldn't love Chris Hemsworth on their cover :) In fact all of Hollywood's Chris' are looking pretty good to me. Chris Evers (Captain America), Chris Pine (Star Trek and Wonder Woman), Chris Pratt (Passengers and the Galaxy movies)...Yum!!!

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    2. Ps. Word of caution to everyone. Don't use googled images of actors on covers :)

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    3. CHRIS EVANS!!!! SIGH, DROOL, ETC.

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  20. I said goodbye twice. Sheesh.

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  21. Regina, welcome back! Thanks for these great tips for cover design. I enjoyed seeing your learning curve as you learned what makes a cover sell the story. Many of us authors are or will indie pub. It's great to know that you're out there ready to help with our covers.

    Janet

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    1. Hi Janet, nice to see you again too :)

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  22. Rogenna, this was an interesting post to show how a good cover design is made. I really do get attracted to a book by its cover.

    Please enter me for the Amazon card.

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  23. Are there any COMMON restrictions on royalty free images as far as covers? Can you alter and adjust at will once you purchase?

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    1. Yes, you can edit to your hearts content.

      There are some images that are "editorial only," these can't be used except in editorials on the subject in the picture unless edited beyond recognition. But I steer clear of these altogether. Usually the sign of a amateur not quite sure they have permission to sell the images of the pictures they've taken. I look for professional images by professional photographers and studio shots.

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  24. Sometimes it's the simplest things that draws me to a book cover. Like how or what color schemes are used. Sometimes a book catches my eyes on a shelf because it stands out from those around it.

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    1. Hi Megan; You are so right. There's a whole science behind color.

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  25. Very interesting article, Rogenna! I especially liked how you took us through 4 cover versions. I do like your last one on that book (One Night in Reno) best. As a reader, I've never thought about what covers I like best. I just either like them or I don't. But a great cover is a wonderful attention grabber.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Hi Phyllis; You're so right. A well thought out cover grabs attention without the reader having to over think it :)

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  26. Good morning, Rogenna.
    I've never indie published, but I do make "pretend" covers for the books I'm writing. It helps create the mood along w/the title.

    Covers are extremely important. I love that ones that have me going back to stare at the cover in important scenes. Ah, so that's what ______ looks like.

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    1. I agree, Connie. Nothing wrong with giving ourselves a visual to help write the book.

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  27. As an artist, I tend to like intense (or maybe a better word would be undiluted) colors on book covers. Even pastels can be intense when there's care taken not to mix in too much gray to the color!

    Thanks for showing us those four different covers! They really do look like completely different genres--it's a great example.

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  28. Hi Rogenna:

    I do love that cover art to my 'romance that knows it's a romance' metafiction. I need to go back and edit it to implement all the wonderful mega-selling techniques I learned in James Patterson's course. I think I'm ready to do the final edit.

    But people should not be distracted by your brilliant cover art because you also write 5-star military romances...and you get your military facts right! (I just hate it when the Captain stands up and salutes the Sergeant Major).

    In one way, you may be missing the boat. Your cover art for my real estate manuals (I think you did seven or eight of them) is still state of the art! I wish you could show them because they will stand up as better than any real estate cover art out there. I know because I reviewed and researched all the real estate books on Amazon before I worked on the covers. You are also the only artist I've sent ideas and photo art to whose work came back better than I imagined it could be! (Given that copywriters and artists are natural enemies, this is a true compliment.)

    I think you could do many more times sales doing professional manuals because as soon as an agency learns the cover is for a business, they start thinking in terms of thousands of dollars. (But then aspiring romance authors may be the largest target market in the world.:))

    Of course, you'd have to have samples to show and I think my manuals are currently the best on the market.

    There is something I like in a cover as a reader and that is a scene that I'd love to jump in and join! If I'd want to get into the scene, then I will also want to start reading the book as soon as possible. Glynna's new book, "The Nanny Bargain" is one like this. Make the cover inviting...unless it is a horror story!

    I also want kids on the cover if the story involves kids. Many women read romances to get away from kids and into romance. These women all sing the same refrain: "Kids are not like that!"

    I also want the cover to reflect what the major part of the book is about. I still remember a Presents book I bought because of the beautiful Caribbean beachfront cover only to find that just the first chapter had that setting...the rest of the book was in snowbound Montana! The snow storms were a major part of the story.

    Which brings up this observation: the first two times I read the title "One Night in Reno", I read it as "One Night in Rio". The ocean front you know...it doesn't make me think of Nevada's deserts. I think the title and the artwork caused me a little cognitive dissonance. My brain saw what it thought it should be seeing. :)

    Please enter me into the drawing.

    Vince

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    1. Of course, sometimes we have little control over covers....like the military uniforms that are incorrect. The famous six fingers. Or the English saddles in a western book.

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    2. I appreciate the vote of confidence, Vince. But I like keeping my boutique biz small. I really don't need to branch out, I have more business than I can handle :)

      Yes, I gave that book a silly title.

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  29. I was challenged, so went and made myself a cover model at http://romancenovelyourself.com/

    If my 86 year old mother sees it I'll be sent to my room.

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    1. LOL––the sight wouldn't even let me in.

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  30. hi Rogenna
    as always, great info for book cover stuff. here I am, still wanting to start doing book cover design *sigh*. As a graphic artist that is rapidly getting too old (read: expensive) for the corporate world, I may need to get off my keister and do something about it. I'm not good at self-promotion and you do very well. I'm always very impressed with your site and samples. I keep saying to myself "someday..."

    I love it when you visit. It sort of revives the dream (because right now, unfortunately, that's all it can be...) Thanks for sharing your knowledge and the evolution of your covers as well - I love the peek into how another creative mind works. Plus... I love reading your books - regardless of the covers. (sort of like the other Seeker books - they are just blessed with cool covers too) :)

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    1. Hi Deb;

      It can be a big time commitment that's for sure. But I started with a free Bloger website and $20. I haven't had to do any real advertising.

      I offered my premades cheap and a couple friends gave me a chance, but it's pretty much a word of mouth business.

      These days I rarely have time to update my website or tweet.

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  31. As an art major and photographer, I love a well-designed book cover and am extremely bothered by a poorly designed one. If I don't like a book cover, only a high recommendation from a friend or trusted blogger will convince me to read it. I tend to like covers where I don't see the model's face so I can more easily imagine a character in my own mind. However, some covers are an exception to that- the most recent one I can think of is With No Reservations by Laurie Tomlinson. The model is adorable and the way she is looking at the male (face unseen) is without reservation. It works so well :)

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    1. Sadly, I am with you, Heidi. I hate that I feel that way, but a bad cover is a bad cover. I am insulted by covers that are ONLY a man's chest. Come on. That's really, really insulting. So are bodice rippers.

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    2. And that's my personal opinion only. That and 1.27 gets you a coffee at Micky D's.

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    3. Heidi, I'm the same way about a bad cover. If a cover looks cheap, then I figure the insides might not be good.

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    4. Different covers for different genres. But I'm an admitted cover hoarder and have grabbed many free books based on nothing else.

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  32. Enjoyed reading this post. Characters on a cover usually draw me in, but then, there had better be some relationship to mood or theme by the other things in the picture to make me want to explore the book. I also like covers that are part of an author's brand by the style of picture or drawn artwork chosen--Lee Child, Laura Griffin come to mind.

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    1. Thank you, Darlene. Covers really need to make that emotional connection with the reader.

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  33. Your covers are beautiful! Don't think I've read your books but plan to change that! Please enter me in the drawing for the Amazon card! THANKS.

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  34. Rogenna, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom on covers! I love the example you shared of how your book covers changed by what you'd learned.

    I really need to work on my brand and update my website, etc. Mine are tied together with the photo I use on all of them. But I've never thought about fonts and such. Thanks for that advice!

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    1. Glad I could get you thinking in that direction, Missy!

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  35. Rogenna, thank you for a fabulous post. Such good information and for my visual self, I love seeing the examples!

    Several of my writing group have indie published. They've used a local graphic artist for their covers...most are good...but nothing like yours! (Of course, the authors weren't writing romance...so guess that colors my view! LOL)

    I hadn't thought of covers becoming part of an author's brand. Good point.

    Do you think designing a cover first helps you form ideas for your story? Or is that the last thing you do?

    Thanks again for an insightful post. Would love to be entered in the drawing.

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    1. Hi Kathryn, I was writing before I was designing covers so nothing I have up now was designed before the book. But I've always been a visual person and used to set up notebooks for each story that I then added pictures too.

      These days covers are my first step after I get an idea for a story, then back cover copy and then I start writing :)

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  36. I really like the covers of my books. They are for YA fantasy, and I think that the dark, kind of ominous backgrounds, and the more brightly colored dresses that the girl wears are perfect for my stories. I don't know if I quite have a brand, so that's certainly something that I should consider.

    Please enter my name for the Amazon gift card.

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  37. Rogenna, Thanks for the information. The only thing I'd add is a hint from a chapter mate of mine at GRW who gave a program on cover design is the importance of color. She advised buying a color wheel to make sure the colors go together. As far as my favorite covers, I know what I like when I see the cover. Not much help. I do like it if an author ties together the covers in a series, if possible. Otherwise, I tend to go more on recommendations than covers, but now that I've been to writers' workshops, I am more aware of covers and pay more attention to detail. I also like the covers that tell the mood of a book. Thanks for sharing your insights into book cover design.

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    1. Hi Tanya;

      Yes, there's a whole science to color in design.

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  38. Sorry about that. This wonderful blog is always so busy, I had a couple comments show up out of place so I rearranged them :)

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  39. My favorite covers are generally ones with more of a darker, Gothic coloring. And I definitely like the covers that actually show the main characters because it helps me visualize them. I'm also partial to pretty dresses.

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  40. Well, I was surprised to learn that YOU, Rogenna and about a handful of you make up mock covers before you write the book. I never thought of doing that except in jest. I do Pinterest with my characters and setting and even that takes effort. Must think on this.

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  41. Welcome, Rogenna! This is a really insightful post, and I'll be referring back to it for sure!

    Sorry to be late to the conversation--and also for being absent from Seekerville for the past couple of weeks. Attempting to get back to some semblance of normal after a vacation that ended abruptly after Project Guy suffered some health issues. Really long story, but hopefully we're on track for finding out what happened and getting him on the road to recovery.

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    1. How I spent my spring vacay meets Nightmare on Cruise Street.

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    2. I feel a book coming on ... someday. :-/

      Or a really bad horror movie.

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    3. Hi Myra! Glad you could make it! Project Guy, now that sounds interesting.

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  42. I think my comment disappeared... Thank you for the great article. My covers fit my regional audience which is where I sell the most books. They are pretty outdoor pics but simple, and my theme seems to be body parts.... nice ones, like the back of a head, feet walking, hands.

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    1. You have lovely covers, Janet Ferguson. Lovely.

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    2. Thank you, Rogenna!! Y'all are making my day :)

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  43. Hey, Rogenna. Great to learn a bit about how your design covers. (And, yes, I think you did a great job on the cover for my book :-) )

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    1. Kudos, Walt. It is a great cover. Your vision, meets Rogenna's talent!

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  44. Such an interesting post, Rogenna. I'm not a techy person, and I know nothing about design, but I'm now fascinated by the thought of doing a cover for one of my books :-) Just for fun of course. Thank you so much for all the great info.

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    1. Laura, you don't even need photoshop. There are a lot of online tools like Canva.

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  45. Babies always get my attention but since every story doesn't have a baby....a beautiful house with a lovely background is eyecatching to me. So is an apparently attractive couple walking hand in hand, and I only see their backs. That way I can imagine their faces using the author's description.
    Interesting post! Thanks for a chance for the gift card to buy more appealing covers!!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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  46. Great advice, Rogenna. thank you. This is a keeper when we try and get a cover to hit all the right notes.

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  47. Regenna, I'm late getting to Seekerville. Sorry!

    Loved your blog post. Great information with visuals. Thank you for sharing all the tips about creating that perfect cover.

    Congrats on your success with your stories and your covers! :)

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  48. I have no desire to write books, but cover design is something I am really interested in. What class would you recommend one to take as a starting point in cover design?

    nina4sm at gmail dot com

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    1. Hi Sylvia;

      I taught myself photoshop with the help of youtube videos :) Sorry, I don't have a better answer for you.

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  49. Sylvia, I know Rogenna simply has a God-given talent and went to college for design. But you might want to check udemy.com and Lynda.com for classes that appeal to you.

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  50. It's getting late, even here in Arizona! I just wanted to say thank you, Rogenna for spending the day and sharing your tips so generously!

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    1. Thank you for inviting me! Good night, Seekers. I always enjoy the time I spend here.

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  51. I loved learning about the process you have used for covers on your books. For me the cover is so important. If I can not connect with the cover . it is a hard sell on the book. I like covers that give clues to the story.
    thanks
    Becky B.

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  52. Thanks Rogenna for this great post! It`s got me thinking about the heart of the story I`m attempting to write at the moment. What kind of picture would tell my story in a nutshell? Hmmm... The kind of covers I like is with photos of real people - either in the time period or place setting of the novel, with expressions on their face telling me if it`s a story dealing with anger, mystery, love, etc. Lee-Ann B

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