Friday, 5 August 2011

A Cover Story...


Lately I’ve been thinking about the value of good cover design. As an indie author with my second e-book due out at the end of the year, I’m already starting to imagine how the cover might look. One of the joys of being independently published is that I get to design and choose a book cover myself.  The only problem is that it’s really hard to come up with something that says ‘sassy, sexy but broken, media-stalked celebrity chef goes awol’ using a single image whether that is with a slick photograph or snappy illustration!

With Bagpipes & Bullshot I designed the cover myself after purchasing a stock image and I think it works really well. I’ve actually been complimented on this cover several times on Twitter! However, bringing out a second title has brought up a whole new issue and that is how to make it instantly clear to readers that this new book is written by the same author i.e. me.


I checked out the Amazon listings and some authors stand out from the crowd as having branded themselves and their books really well. It seems to me that Fantasy and Thriller genre writers are particularly good at this. Just look at these fabulous covers on George R R Martin’s books:



In the Chick Lit genre, I think there’s no better example than Talli Roland’s book covers. Interestingly, Talli’s publisher redesigned the first cover of The Hating Game when they noted sales falling back a little just after publication and then watched sales soar again with this fresh new colourfully illustrated design. Cleverly, they have followed it up with a strikingly similar cover for Talli’s new book Watching Willow Watts which is due out in September as an e-book.



My next book ‘Reaching for the Stars’ is about a disillusioned celebrity chef. The genre is contemporary romantic fiction. Bagpipes & Bullshot is in that category too - but as neither my sexy chef nor my gorgeous bagpipe playing hero would be seen dead wearing pink - what’s this author to do? Well, I’ll tell you. I’m having the job done by a professional and, having discussed ideas, have now contracted out both books to an experienced cover designer. It’s all very exciting. So do come back soon when I promise all will be revealed!

In the meantime, what do you like to see on a book cover? An illustration, a photograph, a headless woman/man, landscapes, seascapes, houses, trees, shoes and handbags, the list of options is endless - and what about colours - what’s in and what’s out? Please do leave a comment and feel free to follow my blog. In most cases I’m almost always going to follow you back.



30 comments:

Talli Roland said...

Yay! Thank you for the lovely shout-out. I'm thrilled with my covers and I can't thank my publisher enough for being so flexible and changing up the design when we noticed our target market wasn't buying the ebook on Amazon. Luckily, we got it right in time for the print edition.

I feel the covers needs to signify the genre. I'm not a massive fan of illustrated covers, but I think they work well to signal to the reader what the product is. Eye-catching colours with easy to read fonts are critical for Kindle, too.

Thanks again, Janice, and I can't wait to see your new cover!

shazjera said...

I have to say as a reader I'm always drawn to a cover that is either intriguing (ie with a person looking away from the front) as it makes me want to find out why! or glitzy - purples,pinks, and on pb/hb I like something raised on the cover! I like to feel :)

Looking forward to seeing your cover reveal Janice x

Pauline Barclay said...

I am so looking forward to seeing you new book cover for your latest book. For Sometimes It Happens... I had Avalon Graphics desing the cover and I was sooo pleased.

What ever your cover looks like it will be very clear it is our Janice who is the author! :)

Amanda said...

Hi Janice

There is nothing more important than the cover and I realised that too late for my first three novels. The covers have been slated so much, but I had a budget of nothing at the time and my arty friend did them for me, for which I am really grateful. But it wasn't how I wanted my books to look long term and investment must be made because the look is all important. A professional illustrator has designed the cover for my fourth novel Strings Attached (released 1 November 2011) and I couldn't be more pleased with it. It is eye catching, speaks of sex and secrets and has my name big and bold at the top, the colour and font I will be sticking with for future books. If people want to have a look at it, it is on the photos page of my website www.mandybaggot.webs.com

Mandy x

Sue Uden said...

Hello Janice,
Can't wait to see what your professionally designed covers will be like. Exciting stuff. My twopennuth is that I am a bit of a realist and like covers to reflect something of what is inside the book - no matter how obscure.

Sue Uden xx

Bikerhen said...

Those covers you posted are fantastic! I know covers are important, but I hadn't thought forward to multi-books. It is impressive to see covers that stay in theme, with a single font and single back-ground type, albeit a different colour. Silhouettes intrigue me, as do raised imprints and suggestive hints as to what is in the book..

Sarah Pearson said...

I think you chose two really well done examples of their genre there Janice. I like an eyecatching cover. It doesn't have to tell me what the book is about, but when I've finished reading, I should be able to make sense of it and know who/what/where is being shown.

Also, I like purple covers :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's cool you hired a professional to do your covers. Talli's really stand out and I was really pleased with my publisher's cover design for both of my books.
I prefer graphics over photos, and since I read science fiction and fantasy, I really dig cool, intricate artwork.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Talli's book is fabulous and I love the covers. B&B is also a brilliant cover design. It's so important to get this right, as we all know it is the first thing that attracts a reader to buy the book.

I had the cover to Discovery at Rosehill professionally done and I'm very pleased I did. I'll definitely be using him again for my next book if I self-publish.

CJ xx

kitdomino said...

Love the cover on Bagpipes & Bullshot. As an artist, it's been really difficult for me to know what to do about my covers, especially as I write various genres. For my saga I didn't want shawls and clogs or houses/streets particularly as it moves to various locations. Am having serious 2nd thoughts on one I've chosen but did want to use one of my own paintings. General consensus I feel is that paintings don't work! What to do (heaves a sigh).

Margo Kelly said...

Great cover examples!! A cover really does influence the choice of whether or not to purchase a book ... I think colors are as important as the images. Pick complementary colors that pop off the page! But ... hey ... what do I actually know about it?? Nothing. Good luck!!

Patricia said...

Great post and cover examples. The cover for Bagpipes and Bullshot is perfect so I have no doubt you'll have the same success with Reaching For The Stars.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Interesting and informative post, Janice, and I almost said 'snap' since I've been thinking about cover design a lot recently. Especially the difference between Kindle and 'paper' book covers. And especially since I've had to think about a new cover for The Curiosity Cabinet since I couldn't use the printed one for the Kindle version for copyright reasons. But a discussion with a professional textile/digital artist friend (who has designed a new one for me) made me think about other issues to do with covers which I'll probably blog about later. Essentially, she read the book and her cover is an artwork in response to the book. This isn't the way it usually works at all - much as I loved the cover of The Curiosity Cabinet in its first edition, I don't think the artist read the book. Which isn't to invalidate the work done - but just consider that in a new medium there may be new possibilities, and especially an extension of the empowerment of the writer to include the cover artist too. Interesting, eh? Risky, I know, but interesting! Love the cover of Bagpipes and Bullshot by the way!

nigel p bird said...

when i worked on my covers, i decided to go it alone. to my mind, Dirty Old Town is pretty cool. Beat On The Brat is cool, but maybe not so well put together.
for the explosive and soon to be released anthology Pulp Ink, we had a pro lined up, but high demand on his part got in the way. should you ever get to see it, you'll spot the Nigel Bird style and I hope it works (the content certainly deserves a cover of the highest calibre).
nice insight.
nigel

Glynis said...

I love a good cover! Talli's work together so well.

I love the cover of Bagpipes and Bullshot and look forward to seeing your new one.


Glynis Smy (writer)

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Interesting post, Janice - I like the cover to reflect the story and genre. I loved your B&B cover but look forward to what's coming next!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Being in the process of compiling my second poetry book I have that to look forward to.......choosing a cover, I was lucky with the last one but will think about that more as the time approaches. Loved your post it was very interesting to read.

Yvonne.

Bill Kirton said...

I thought the covers for Bagpipes and Bullshot were both good (I'm including the Beneath Apricot Skies version). You were a bit mean to yourself by making your name smallish on B & B but the cover was still good. I've only once done my own cover and I realise it's not my forte - luckily, my publisher has a very talented artist and her covers for me have been wonderful. No doubt about it - it makes a difference.

Janice Horton said...

Thank you everyone for your really interesting views and comments about cover design. I loved reading them all and thanks also for the kind words about my Bagpipes & Bullshot cover!

Janice x

Melanie said...

Great post! And you're right about author branding. I was in Chapters today, the equivalent of your Waterstones and near the front door was a display of George R.R. Martin's books near the door when we left. Had we gone in through the front door, they would have smacked us upside the head but we came in through the coffee shop. Enough digression, as soon as I saw those books all neatly displayed, my thoughts immediately returned to your blog.

Linda Gillard said...

I'm wrestling with the same problem right now, trying to develop a cover for UNTYING THE KNOT, my next Kindle e-book. (There's no one image that will suggest FOUR WEDDINGS & a FUNERAL meets THE THE HURT LOCKER!)

My books are all so different it's really hard to give them a "brand" look. My designer and I agreed we should keep to one distinctive font, whatever the book was about. I don't think that's really enough - especially for a Kindle thumbnail - but it's as far as I'm prepared to go making the books look the same.

I love landscape and lovely old buildings on covers. Your cover for BAGPIPES & BULLSHOT makes me feel quite homesick for the Highlands. Driving past that castle used to mean we were almost back home on Skye...

Thanks for a great post.

Janice Horton said...

Thanks Melanie - I'm glad you were reminded of my blog post. I imagine the covers of Mr Martin's books are even more impressive in the real rather than digital versions.
Janice x

Janice Horton said...

Yes, Linda - it's a hard job to know what will work and the 'rules' are quite different for Kindle thumbnails than for larger visuals. My biggest dilemma is colour. I see from Amazon that all versions of blue are in - but to choose blue or lilac would then mean your book would be lost in a sea of it all. There’s no way of knowing at this stage if it will sink or swim but I’m going for striking bright and eye catching. We’ll have to see what happens! Thanks for your lovely comments.

Carole Anne Carr said...

I'm lucky, my grandson puts together many of my cover ideas.

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

Covers are so important, aren't they. I really miss the impact when I read books on Kindle. I never realised what a difference they could make to the reading experience.

Karen Harrington said...

You are smart to notice the trends of authors whose book covers sort of "brand" them. That's an idea I hadn't thought about before. What draws me to a cover is often a lot of smpty space contrasted with a smaller image. I also love covers that feature photographs. Great post!

ange said...

I love the picture and colours on Bagpipes and Bullshot. Maybe, like Talli, you could do a similar cover to your first book with a limited colour palate?

Personally I don't like photographs of models on the front cover of a book, be it just their face or whole body. For me, it cheapens the look. I do love scenery - maybe a scene from a chapter, but again, not a photograph. That's just me though.

Good luck with your sexy chef! I look forward to 'meeting' him!

Myra Duffy said...

As my new novel 'Last Ferry to Bute'is again set on the island (as was 'The House at Ettrick Bay')I've used a photo with a link to the island and will do the same for the third in the trilogy.However with a different novel(currently being written) I'll use a different image.
While the cover is important the back cover blurb is also something to wrestle with!

Jo Lambert, Writer said...

Hi Janice,
Picked this blog up a little late but agree that covers nowadays definitely need to identify the author. Talli's is a perfect example. My trilogy covers were all chosen from istockphoto.com and each I felt reflected the storyline of the book. However, that was then and this is now and I think they are now definitely in need of a makeover. I am about to change publisher so will be interested in any suggestions they may have.

They say you can't tell a book by it's cover but I'm afraid where novels are concerned, the cover design does just that and can mean the difference between people wanting to read your book or bypassing it! So as well as a corporate 'you' look it has to be interesting as well!

I wish you luck with your new cover and look forward to seeing it.

Reabookreview said...

I have to say I am always drawn to book which are brightly coloured. Can't wait to read your new ook my lovely xxx