Wednesday, June 15, 2011

As a Matter of Fact, You Can Judge a Cover. Pt I

This is going to be a mini-series of posts since I have a knack for following the most difficult path possible, before I randomly stumble over the writing-stone of obvious.

As many of you know, I've been on the all-encompassing journey to develop the perfect book cover. I openly admit, I went about it somewhat blindly, and it made for a very stressful adventure. **I don't recommend this route, just so you know.**

A book cover is the first thing people see when they're Googling your novel or perusing the shelves at the local bookstore. It has to stand out, to beckon the wandering eye with promises of excitement, romance, or mystery. A good cover tells the story of what's inside without being overstated. A good cover is hard to come by.

There are may factors that go into cover design. I'm by no means an authority on the matter, but I've learned a few things in my own process. Shall I share them? It'll cost you 25 cents. If you said "No, thanks. I don't like you anyway," well, you can have your quarter back. If you answered, "Yes! Why shouldn't we benefit from your ignorance?" then you can keep your quarter as a reward for your honesty!

There are a couple of ways of going about design.

The first way is the easiest: You don't care what's on the front or what your font looks like as long as it's eye catching and awesome. Good for you. Your designer loves you.

The second, since easiest is taken, is the hardest: You have an idea of what you want...or better yet, you have a whole vision of how your cover is going to look sitting next to NYT best-sellers! You imagine the perfectly formed Ocelot no one can create, overlaid with embossed spots made from every texture imaginable, and you smile. Congratulations, your designer hates you now. Just kidding! ...but not really. It's true.

If you follow the same path as me, there are a few things you should know about your cover and how things work. Today, I'll address images since you have that complicated little Ocelot in your head. This is an Ocelot by the way...

STEP ONE: Images.

Your image MUST be A) public domain. What does that mean? It means it belongs to no one in particular, B) your own image that you created either on your own or a combo of PD pics and Photoshop, C) a picture you yourself took, or D) you have written permission to use a copyrighted image for profit. That profit word is very important in asking for permission. People are less generous when there is money to be made. Just a fact.

STEP TWO: Fonts.

Fonts fall under a similar agreement, but with a couple of differences.
Option One: Standard fonts. These come on your computer when you buy it, and are fair game. No worries when you use them for any reason profit or otherwise.
Option Two: Downloadable fonts. There are multiple factors here, and more factors to those factors. I'm going to attempt to break these down further.
*Free to download: You are free to download them. You MUST check user license from the CREATOR to use these for profit. I myself had to do this. Just because it's free to download does not mean it's free to use if you're going to benefit from it. Under this falls the question: How frequently will you profit from the font use? You can only sell so many if you don't have an unlimited user licensing agreement. Be forewarned!
*Purchasable fonts: Those are pretty self explanatory. You pay for them from the get-go. Each site is different when it comes to user licensing. There are Standard End, Multi-user, Web-server, and so on. Please research each site's requirements and find the one that best suits your needs. Most of these people are pretty helpful.

STEP THREE: Anything written on the front or back.

If you have a quote from your favorite author, poet, or song, you'd better give full credit. Seems like an obvious, and I hope it is, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention it.

So, for part II of the series, I'll be talking about finding a good cover designer and what to expect.


  1. Love it! Hey the Ocelot's still running through my mind. I'm writing at the moment, so if Keepers has a random Ocelot in it I'll be sure to give you credit! :-D

  2. Awesome, awesome stuff. Thanks for sharing =D