Thursday, September 1, 2011

What makes a good cover?

Words of wisdom from two of our amazing, talented cover artists:

It's hard to explain from a cover artist stand point what makes a good cover because designing is sort of an organic process for an artist. What I'm going to try to explain is what you should think about when requesting a cover.  As far as composition, most of the time, less is better. Trying to request a complicated cover with too many elements will make for a messy cover, kind of like trying to put to many flavors in a cake. Also, white space is your friend; don't feel like every inch of the cover needs to be covered with something, it can be a very successful cover with lots of white space.

What I would suggest when making a cover wish list is concentrate on one or two items that are central to your story line like the setting and a good description of your characters.

For example:   A contemporary suspense set in a dark alley of New York, blond heroine, dark haired hero looking pensive.  Well you get the idea.

Also, watch being too picky if the characters on the cover don't look exactly like your characters. As long as they allow the tone of your book to come through and it's attractive from a marketing standpoint, I wouldn't sweat it!  I've had authors nit-pick covers into ugliness because they want it to look exactly like their vision, but sometimes that's just not possible, so they passed up an opportunity for an amazing cover.

Artists have to work from stock art, so they likely can't get your characters exactly. Here's an example, a long haired blond man. Likely, that's just not something the artist is going to be able to find for you in stock art, but if they can have an attractive couple kissing, for example, and it makes the cover pop, I wouldn't worry if the guy doesn't have long blond hair.

So that's my short advice on making a cover great, let the artist eye for design and overall composition for marketing purposes make you cover pop. If you give them room to work that way, I guarantee your cover will rock! - From Cover Art Designer Rae Monet of Rae Monet, Inc. Design

I love to create covers! I love to please! But there are times when those two things concepts simply collide.

Case in point, the historical lines. The author has a grand idea of what she/he envisions for the cover.
I have spent hours in search of an auburn beauty with green-eyes, wearing a blue period gown with a sapphire pendant in her hand as part of the story.

Oh dear heavens, I can only photoshop so much, so let's get creative here, because 'I WILL NEVER FIND THAT EXACT PHOTO'. What really needs to happen is some fantastic photographers loading the stockphoto sites with vintage, historically dressed romantic figures, and not some cheesy costume party picture. Don't get me wrong, if I were a writer and had a vision, I would love to see the cover come to life, looking like the pages from my book.

What a joy when I get close and the author writes back, FABULOUS, I LOVE IT!!!! And that is where the collision erupts into a masterpiece and life if good, until the next cover! -   Tina Lynn Stout, TWRP cover artist


Donna Dalton said...

This is good stuff to know, although I have always been extremely happy with my book covers. The artist captured and most times enhanced my vision. KUDOS to the ART Dept!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Thank you for your thoughts, Tina and Rae. I think of a cover artist much like I think of a movie director interpreting a book (script) for film. I couldn't write the script nor direct the movie version of LAST RESORT. I can write a book, but I don't have the skill to graphically pull in a reader like a cover artist can. We writers are glad you're helping us get our books out there!

Randi Alexander said...

I was so pleasantly surprised when I received my cover, I jumped up and did a happy dance. All the artists at The Wild Rose Press are extremely talented. Thank you for putting up with all of us picky authors!

LaVerne Clark said...

I think you guys do an amazing job - and like Randi - I jumped up and down in excitement too when I received mine : ) It's the best present in the world. Thank you for all you do!

Debra St. John said...

It's definitely a scary thing...seeing that e-mail in your inbox with "FINAL COVER" as the subject.

My heart is always pounding when I click to open...but I have to say, in all honesty, I have never been disappointed with any of my TWRP covers.

And when you look around at other publishers and what sometimes gets put out there...our covers and the cover artists who create them are simply the best...hands down no contest.

So, thanks, ladies, for really making our books stand out. You provide the icing on the cake, so to speak!


T.D. Jones said...

Great post. I always wonder what they think when I put all my thoughts that I want on a cover.

Anonymous said...

Rae Monet designed my cover for Heart of Stone back in 2008. I'm still receiving compliments on it. I always explain that the kudos go to her. Thank you, Rae, for a fabulous cover.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

I can't begin to tell you how many compliments I've receive for my TWRP book covers. I think, given the amount of information on the spec sheet, is like groping in the dark. I do admire all the beautiful covers created by TWRP artists.

Nona Raines said...

I'm embarrased to think of all the extraneous stuff I put into my first spec sheet. The poor artist must have seen it and thought "Huh?" But Angela Anderson cut through all the baloney and came up with a gorgeous cover. For my second book I just asked "Could you please create a cover in a similar theme to the first?" Both covers are totally drool-worthy.

Rae Monet said...

It's always a pleasure to create a cover that someone loves. Like Tina said, that's when it all comes together for an artist! Thanks to all who love theirs!

Calisa Rhose said...

Defining, detailing for us what helps the artist really helps me. I never gave much thought to the cover art process until I sold. I can speak like I know what I'm talking about here. For my cover I "imagined" my heroine and hero, a car and listed the era, 1967, as the most important concept I wanted to show. Check out the cover for HOME (only on my website currently) and you'll see just how spot on Tina nailed my wishes into reality. It screams the 60's. If I haven't already said it, THANK YOU, TINA! I LOVE MY COVER!!!

Delle Jacobs said...

This is so timely for me because I do both- historical romances and cover art. I have just gone through a series of covers for a dear friend, and I think I was crying tears of blood before I finished. Friends have complete faith that I can capture that fantasy in their heads to the tiniest detail. And I can't. They couldn't afford that cover, even if I could. As artists, we work from photos these days. We don't paint images in our heads. And there's only so much we can do to change photos. Splice a different jaw on a heroine? No thanks! Turn her sideways? No. I won't. Can't, usually.

But as an author, I also understand that fantasy. It's really hard, after living with a heroine for perhaps years, you discover no one else sees her the same way you do.

Rebecca J. Clark said...

I am anxiously awaiting my next cover, but I'm anxious in a good way. TWRP covers are the best in the business so I know I'll love it.

Question for Rae and Tina--if we find a stock photo that we think is perfect for our cover, are you open to seeing a link, and what are the chances of you using it?

Thanks so much for your great work!

Lilly Gayle said...

I have 3 TWRP covers and I love them all! Angela Anderson did a beautiful job with Out of the Darkness and Slightly Tarnished. OTD has the dark yet hopeful feel I wanted. And ST looks very Gothic, which fits the story.

And Tina, I love what you did with Wholesale Husband! I can't wait to hold the actual book in my hand. It's so pretty.

Kellie Kamryn said...

This was great to know! And I loved my cover TWRP created :) Colorful and eyecatching! Thanks for the great work.

Rhonda Penders said...

So glad that you ladies love our cover art and our cover artists. I will make sure they feel the love. As for the question on whether you can suggest a picture - yes - you can always send us links or make suggestions of something you see - even another book cover on amazon if you see one that you think has the feel - show it to the artists - everything helps them pull this together.


Rhonda Penders said...
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Barbara Weitz said...

Great post. I'm probably one of those writers who gives too much information. So I have a question. I thought if I gave the artist as many ideas as possible (since they don't read the book), that they'll take it and envision their own concept. So that's wrong?

Also, I see with the new tracking system the Cover Art form has been tweaked in an effort to narrow down the writer's vision. That's a good thing as I think some of us thought more was better when it isn't. Thanks for the post. I've one great cover and am waiting for my next "fabulous" cover.

Ilona Fridl said...

Rae and Tina, you gave us a lot to think about. I have been extremely pleased with the three covers I have. Thank you so much, Rae!

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi everyone, grab a cup of coffee, this is going to be long-winded. LOL Let me begin by giving kudos to all the fabulous artists at TWRP. You all rock! Thanks for posting your insight, Rae and Tina. Formerly an artist, after losing all vision to diabetic retinopathy, I now paint pictures with words. You can imagine my anxiety when my book covers come in, the fear of the unknown. I get a very definite idea of what I envision on my book cover, using how I would have painted it on canvas as model. Bearing this in mind, I develop the picture in my head and put it in words. Since I write in two genres on opposite sides of the spectrum, sweet inspirationals and romantic suspense, we make it work by using good vs evil for a theme. Rae designed my website, and after talking to me, quickly got a handle on how she would design it, angel vs devil, good vs evil and I’m confident that it reflects my stories of inspiration and suspense. Rae is gifted!
The book covers she has designed for me also pick up on the dark, the foreboding, the feeling of doom and gloom, interwoven with the shining light to show that good conquers evil. Thanks, Rae!
Nicola has designed the majority of my inspis and again, like Rae, is very intuitive to my aspirations, and comes up with what I am confident is as stunning as I’d envisioned. I try to keep it simple in my spec, highlighting color scheme, setting to set mood and tone of book. Somehow it works, although, grin, I no doubt drive all involved crazy asking for detail. To sum it up, for me, it’s all about understated detail to add drama. Great post, thank you!

Stephanie Burkhart said...

Awesome thoughts on how cover artists go about creating a cover. Thanks so much for sharing.

Joanne Stewart said...

Thanks very much for sharing this! It's definitely nice to know what goes on behind a cover. My cover didn't look exactly like my characters, but it really did capture the essence of their relationship, so I was very pleased with it.