Wednesday, June 29, 2011

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

Part III of III: The Analytical post.

Congratulations, you made it! Today I want to wrap up the cover discussion with actual layout and design. Now, mind you, I'm a bit peculiar in my ways, so me liking or not liking something doesn't always follow the trend. However, there is still a general template to follow no matter your tastes or preferences.

As we discussed before, you need to know your reader and your subject matter. For me, choosing the perfect cover was as paramount as the story itself. The cover is the first thing a reader will see. It needs to send the right message, fit into the YA paranormal-romance field, but yet be unique and striking. Not an easy task, I'll tell you, but my cover designer is brilliant, and his skill made all the difference.

Step One: Your Background Image
Is your story the one with Princess Fluffernutter and the search for her one true love? You're probably going to want a background image that portrays such a scene. Castles, dragons, cyclops fairies...whatever. The point is, your background needs show the setting of the story without drawing the eye fully. It needs to be subtle, but noticeable. This is your first option. Think Harry Potter.

Harry is the first thing you see, but the background is full of other characters and creatures that are vital to the story.

Your second option, you can go the less obvious route and choose a solid or textured background. This is a great idea if you're going for something striking or if you have an A) excellent focal point (see the following section), or B) a busy focal point. Think all of the Twilight covers or Bree Despain.

Plain, black background makes for a more vivid focal point. Consider your storyline, or simply a striking image to figure out which suits you.

Step Two: Your Foreground Image or Focal Point
This is the image you want to capture your audience. It needs to stand out and draw immediate attention to the cover. This is your selling point! Faces are the trend at the moment (though I thoroughly dislike full-on faces for most covers) so here's where you're going to add the beautiful princess looking pouty, irresolute, or whatever her purpose is in the story. Readers need to see her and wonder why her expression is set the way it is. They need to marvel at her vividly red hair and mysterious eyes. You get one chance to capture the reader's attention. Take advantage of it! I really liked this one. I'm intrigued by her role in the story.

She looks like she's up to something, doesn't she? And what's with the flowers? I would pick this up, despite my aversion to faces, just because it's eye-catching. Whatever style you choose, whatever your focal point, stand out, be bold even if it's subtly, and make an impact.

Step Three: Font
This seems like such an easy task, but for me, it was one of the more difficult. I wanted a font that captured the title of my story as well as the story itself. Not so easy! In my mind, I was looking for something like the font on Beautiful Creatures.

This is a great cover all around, in my opinion, but the font really pops. In this case, the font is actually the focal point. It captures the feel of story and in conjunction with the background, you get a good idea of what to expect. Very well done. If you don't have a dark, mysterious story, this font likely wouldn't work for you.

**Take note however, if your cover is busy, unless your story warrants it, keep your font simple. Think about where you want the readers focus and concentrate on that. Keep it clean, simple, and easy to read when you can.

I hope you guys have learned more quickly what it took me a while to understand!

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