Tip on the Pen: Covers

So, how about a re-cap to begin with? So far we’ve covered how long you book should be, how to name it in a way that’ll grab a potential reader’s attention, and how to write a good pitch that’ll keep their attention.

Now, we’ll focus away from all the words. Have you ever heard that a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, the one on the front of your book has to be worth 50,000 (or more!).

How do I achieve this?

The good news is that if you’re not so skilled in this area, plenty of people are willing to help you out with a low (or no) cost. There is no shortage of cover makers in the Multimedia Designs club who require a little bit of information to work with (and in many cases, a small payment such as a follow/dedication/read/ect.) and can produce amazing covers.

Over at NaNoWriMo, there is the NaNo Artisans forum, Valorpen has The Studio forum, Figment has The Cover Studio… Need I go on? You’ll find a similar forum in just about every writing website.

How do you make covers?

I tend to go the round-about way of things, and you gan probably find an easier way, but this is what works for me:

1– In Gimp 2 (Photoshop, and other similar programs work well, too), I open a new whatchamacallit/thingamabob and make it the dimensions I want. (256×400 for here, I think, but it’s different for most websites.)
2– I find my picture and paste it in Gimp. I then use the tools to move and re-size it until I’ve gotten what I want the picture itself to look like.
3– I copy that into MS Publisher and add the text. You can do this step in Gimp, but I find it easier to edit text in Publisher.
4– Once it looks how I want it to, I save it as a picture (right click on the pic, and click ‘save as picture’). I save it as PNG, because I find that words turn out clearer.
Optional: Occasionally, I put it into MS Word and play around with some of the picture tools that Publisher doesn’t have. Sometimes I do it before I’ve added the text, sometimes after. (For example, I did this step to Love In The Air after I’d added the text, so it looks like it’s bleeding into the tree.)

Tips to make a good cover

–Simpler can be better. As much as I hate Twilight, the cover is nice. I’ve included an analysis of it from the blog Jaz Says. (You can click on the picture to view the post.)

A short analysis of it from the blog Jaz Says.

–Symbolism is good. If there’s some sort of theme of repeated item throughout the book, it could be a good idea to put that on the cover. Similarly, a picture of a/the main character can help give the reader an idea of who they are, particuarly if they’re doing something that could give away something about their personality.

–A creative font. Obviously you’re limited by the fonts you can get, but if it’s been used way too much, people can tell. Also, this should go without saying, but the font should match the book. A mystery/thriller book shouldn’t have a butterly themed font, and a book about a girl in love would generally suit a loopy handwriting font more than something blocky or stencily.

–Words of the cover (title, author, subtitle) should be readable.

What is a bad cover?

Something that I used to see fairly often on here was just pictures for covers, without any words. Could you imagine picking up a book in the store and not seeing any writing on it? You wouldn’t expect it there, so why should people expect it online?

Something that immediately screams ‘amateur’ to me is books with the default cover. In my opinion, it’s just lazy. However, if you do just have the default cover, you can now use what you’ve hopefully learnt from this to change it.

Does your cover fall under the category of good or bad? Why do you say so, and how could you improve it?

~C

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