Monday, June 25, 2012

The Journey of Self Publishing #4: Cover Art

Thoughts At One In The Morning is proud to present a blog post series for unpublished writers on the self-publishing world. I have asked four indie authors to share with you the different steps they have taken on their journey. They will discuss the writing process itself, the steps in between, and publishing itself. Please join us every week for a new topic on the journey to becoming an indie author!

Our Indie Author panel:

Marie Landry, author of Blue Sky Days
You can find her on her blog Ramblings Of A Daydreamer.

A.M. Hargrove, author of The Guardians Of The Vesteron series
You can find her on her blog A.M. Hargrove.

Avery Sawyer, author of Notes To Self
You can find her on her website The Teashop Girls.

Michelle Flick, author of The Owens Legacy: Revelations
You can find her on her blog Oh! For the LOVE of BOOKS!.


This week on The Journey of Self-Publishing:

~Cover Art~

How do I go about getting a cover for my novel?

Avery Sawyer: I recommend buying a stock image online. There are tons of awesome images for sale for like ten dollars.

Michelle Flick: I lucked out on this one. One of my students is an awesome photographer and studies digital graphics. I paid her 120 bucks and got my cover. She is going to do my next two covers this summer.

A.M. Hargrove: Smashwords has a list of people that do formatting, cover art, etc. That's how I found my graphic artist, Matthew Riggenbach. He asked me some in-depth questions about my books and then started feeding me images. I knew what color range I wanted to use so it all evolved from his creativity. He charges $75 and he is well worth it. Shaed Studios is the name of his business.

Marie Landry: There are several ways: if you have a background in/knowledge of graphic design, you can create the cover yourself, either from a photograph of your own, or a photo/piece of artwork you buy the rights to. There are also artists who sell their work for covers (for example, Claudia McKinney aka Phatpuppy Art, is very popular and her artwork is out of this world amazing; I’d love to have her design a cover for me someday), and there are companies you can hire to design the cover for you.

Did you do it yourself or hire somebody?

Marie Landry: I did it myself for two reasons: I have a background in graphic design, and I wanted to have complete control over how it looked.

What sites do you use to find pictures?

Avery Sawyer: I used Dreamstime, and then manipulated the image using several Photoshop-like programs.

Marie Landry: I used Dreamstime - they have an amazing selection of pictures, and the prices are good. I also looked at Shutterstock and iStockPhoto. There are hundreds of sites out there, just Google ‘Stock Images’ or ‘Royalty Free Photos’, and make sure to read the usage terms and other fine print.

How much did it cost?

Avery Sawyer: $10.

Marie Landry: For $25, I got the cover image, plus photos for the book trailer.

What size picture do you need to purchase?

Avery Sawyer: Get the biggest one you can afford. 

Marie Landry: The bigger the better. You want quality high resolution pictures, so that when you resize them the image doesn’t get distorted.

What about fonts?

Avery Sawyer: Try lots of different ones, and ask everyone you know what they think. I put the cover image I was working on right on my iPhone and put it under people’s noses at parties. I tried about half a dozen fonts before I got one that everyone thought looked right.

Marie Landry: That one’s tricky. I played around with dozens of fonts before I decided on the two for my cover - one for the title, and one for my name. My best advice would be to study book covers in the genre you’re writing, and see what you like and what you don’t like. Do you want cursive for the title and block letters for your name, or vice versa? Something chunky or thin? You really just have to play around until you find what you think looks good.

What kind of tips do you have for professional cover art?

Avery Sawyer: Take your time. If you don’t have a good eye, pay someone to do a cover for you. A good cover is important. Look at other covers in your genre and make sure the one you have in mind reflects the prevailing style in the genre now.

Marie Landry: If you’ve never done graphic design, creating your own book cover is not the place to start. There are so many amateur and unprofessional- looking indie covers out there by people who just slap together an image and some text. It’s not that simple. Find a friend who’s an artist or graphic designer, hire someone, or if you really want to do it yourself, take the time to learn how to use a design program before creating your cover. Also, ask for opinions - I did a mock-up of several versions of the cover, posted them on Facebook and my blog, and asked what people thought.

Is there anything you would do differently?

Avery Sawyer: No, I love my cover!

Michelle Flick: Advice: Have an idea what you want - don't be closed minded to new ideas - but it will make it easier to get going if you want characters, or scenery, or both. You need to decide on expression in the face(s). You need to know if you want simplistic or fancy writing. Also - something that took me forever to decide on - how do you want your name to appear.


Thank you for the great advice on cover art!

Join us next week when our Indie Author panel will discuss in more detail Formatting and how to do it properly.


  1. I think my problem is that I can't seem to make up my mind. I feel like I'll choose a cover picture and then I'll see another amazing image and then start lusting after that! I've changed my mind so many times about the theme of my covers that I'm starting to dread the whole process! There are just so many amazing digital artists out there.

    1. Me either! One day I think I know what I'm looking for, the next day the original ideas just don't work. I want to just get a stock photo, but I can't find one that really stands out, at least not yet. There are a lot of amazing cover artists out there though, it is tempting...

    2. I have to say it was hard to chose what I did and do you know what made me commit? The day we went for the photo shoot. Kenzie and Maggie were ready and I couldn't just be like: I don't know what to do. So I suggested some stuff and then Kenzie (photographer/graphic person) suggested some stuff. I was lucky she gave me a few different covers to pick from. And in the end - I love it. It will work out!

    3. That's the cool thing about yours, you getting to go to the photo shoot! I'd love to go to one for my own cover. :)

  2. Hah, I am tempted to do my own, if I ever get off my butt and write anything, so this was some great advice. I've wondered about book covers before ... I keep thinking of images or types of covers I would like to see, or what I'd want for my own mythical book.

    1. It was some great advice. I hope you can do this someday! Covers are the most fun part of publishing. :)


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