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How to Work with a Cover Designer

Books have long been compared to other worlds. When we read, we lose ourselves in the words and the mind of the author. It’s like an escape from the world that we know in a world where anything could happen, and very often does. Writing is a different experience than reading, but it is also a journey into another world… a world that the author creates during the writing process, and wants readers to explore. Damonza.com thinks of a book’s cover as a door half open, inviting readers to come on in! There are a few ways that authors and cover designers can collaborate to make that door as tempting as possible.

Know Your Goals

When you were creating your world, who did you imagine would be the most likely to climb in and make themselves at home? Is your book mostly aimed at adults or teenagers? Romance enthusiasts or mystery lovers? Imaginative fiction fans or curious non-fiction readers? Let Damonza.com know what you want your cover to say about your book. We can make your adventure novel say “This is going to be so much fun!” or have your horror story hiss out a threatening (but so tempting) “Read if you dare!” Just tell us what you want your “door” to say.

Bring Your Inspiration at the Table

Nobody knows your book world better than you do! Damonza.com offers a huge selection of beautiful, eye-catching artwork… so huge, in fact, that we need your help in choosing the perfect cover for your book. Don’t be afraid to tell us your ideas when you come to us for your book cover. Whether your vision is dazzling color or stark black-and-white, we want to know where you’d like us to start. You might be surprised how closely we can match your ideas… or how perfect a mix of your ideas and our artwork can turn out to be!

image001 300x202 How to Work with a Cover Designer

Communication is Magic

At Damonza.com, we believe that the best covers happen somewhere at the intersection of our magic and yours. You have the talent to create a new world and bring it to life, and we have the skill to create a cover that makes people want to pick up your book and dig in. When a designer and an author communicate freely about their ideas, their choices and their inspiration, the results are astonishing. Listen to your designer and see how your ideas can help make the design even better, and don’t ever be afraid to speak your mind!

Contact Us and See What We Can Do

Seeing your book in its very own cover is an awesome experience for an author. Damonza is proud to be a part of that experience for authors like you. We know that your written world is worth exploring and we want to help people find their way into the magical place you’ve created. We have talent, experience and knowledge and we’re eager to see what our art and your magic look like when they meet. Let us build the door to your world!

Editing and Surviving

Let’s talk about E-D-I-T-I-N-G.

Every author’s nightmare.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone — we all hate this. Wait, that’s not true. . . some sadists actually enjoy pulling apart their baby! It’s all perspective, okay? You can view it as grueling work that is breaking down your dream, or you can view it as an opportunity to really make your book shine and bring out the original story you wanted to tell.

Do it.

Just do it. You have no other choice. Okay, you do, but it’s not the best way to do this thing called publishing. It’s not what your readers deserve, either. Even if you are constantly editing as you go, you need to edit your first draft. Sure, some authors will edit less than others. Some will need less work because some take a lot more thought and time with their first draft. But everyone’s gotta do it.

Imagine all your book can be.

Editing is a chance to look at your story again: That second cousin with the mole? The subplot with the missing cat? The symbolism of the broken gas gage? This is your chance to bring that out. To brush off the dirt of rushed scenes, half-thought romances, and weak world building bring out your true story — that 5-karat diamond ring that cost three months of income.

Teamwork.

You don’t have to do it alone! Get your friends, join a critique group, hire an editor, seek out a beta reader. Your team will see much more than your biased eyes can. You’re Bonnie and Clyde. Simon and Garfunkel. Harry and Ron. Batman and Robin. Regis and Kelly. Beavis and Butthead. You get the point, right?

In and out.

Take breaks. When you first finish your first draft, step away from it for a little while. Write something else, pick up another hobby for a few weeks. Give it a good, thorough read, looking at the big level pictures, think about how you can improve any issues you saw, then step away again while you ask someone else to read it. Don’t overwhelm yourself, or you may blind yourself to issues that every reader will see on their first read. (“Wait, who is Tyler? I thought his name was Taylor.”)

No negative naysaying.

(Okay, this theme of E-D-I-T-I-N-G is just getting cheesy…) Those who edit have plenty of excuses: I don’t need it, I don’t have the time, I’ve gotten so many different opinions, I’ve tried so many different things, I have no idea what to do. You can make all the excuses you want, but at some point, you just have to keep going, hard as it is!

Give it up.

There comes a point when you have to let the book go. You can’t edit forever. Actually, I suppose you can — you can do anything you want with that book — if you want to continually bash your head against a wall. If you never want to move on to a new book. If you’re scared of letting this one go. Give it up. Let it go. Either put it away or give it to the readers and see what they think.

How to Convince a Reader (Not) to Read Your Book

1. Use a cover that looks like it was designed by your color blind 6-year-old niece.

Your book cover design should have completely jarring colors and illegible font. Your name needs to be way too small. When in thumbnail size, no one should be able to tell what it is. Oh and genre? That should definitely remain a mystery.

2. Spam. Spam everywhere.

You know what readers like more than reading? When authors come into their group and forums and try to convince them their book is the best. Especially if you’re derailing a thread about a completely different topic. Or you’re breaking the “No Promo” rules! Readers love that.

3. Write a blurb that answers none of the readers questions about the book.

You know those questions every reader has when approaching a book: What is this book about? Why should I read it? What kind of read can I expect when I open this book? THESE ARE STUPID QUESTIONS! Your blurb should be something abstract, something that doesn’t make any sense. Or better yet, something completely different than what’s actually in your book.

4. Make sure your first page is littered with typos.

Don’t proofread. Who cares about the difference between their vs. there vs. they’re or paragraph breaks? You can butcher that first page, and no one will care. You’ll be proving yourself, proving you care more about the story and the character than the silly little details.

5. Make it a secret.

Sure, I know you’re spamming everywhere, but when someone organically shows up on your website or blog, make it so they have to WORK to find your book. They can read all about it, sure, and see that stellar cover, but they have to go to Amazon themselves and search your name and title to actually find the book. Don’t link your website or book to your Facebook or Twitter, either. Better yet, don’t have a Facebook or a Twitter! Don’t do any marketing at all. You’ll be an edgy underground author. (Wait, this doesn’t match with spamming everywhere, does it? You’ll be able to find a balance, I believe in you.)

* * *

Honestly, though. . . There is no foolproof way to convince a reader to read your book. You can do all the right things, but still, not everyone will read it, and of those who read it, not everyone will like it. As an author and artist, you have to let go of it eventually and trust the right audience will find it. It’s nerve-wracking, but it’s part of the job description.

Selling Your Genre

Pretend with me for a moment. You’re a fifty-year-old woman who wants to curl up with her fifteen cats and a low-key romantic read this weekend. You want something clean: no Fifty Shades tampon scenes! You prefer historical or contemporary, definitely not paranormal, blood makes you squeamish. Based on this, which of the following covers would you check out?

Dark Lily Book Cover Selling Your Genre

Dark Lily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

truelove cover design Selling Your Genre

True Love

Covert Affairs Ebook cover Selling Your Genre

Covert Affairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You chose the second one, didn’t you? You know what you want, and you can recognize based on these covers which is going to deliver that.

Stick with me. You go to check out this book, True Love, and read a blurb like this:

Caradee never meant to make that deal — her ex-boyfriend told her it was just a letter from his boss! But now, she’s running for her life from drug lords, and when she sees her ex again, she’s going to kick his ass.

Grant has been hired to find Caradee and take her out. She proves to be more challenging than he thought — especially when he falls for her after a hot night of karaoke. But if he decides to protect Caradee, his boss will kill his whole family. These two will have to make decisions they will never be able to return from.

Is this the book you want to read this weekend? Probably not. (The real blurb of True Love by Destin Bays, by the way, is nothing like this.)

So, you leave to find a book you want to read, that low-key romance where the only stakes are whether the hero and heroine  overcome the personal issues to love each other.

Meanwhile, someone searching for a fast-paced story with passionate romance and high stakes action are going to brush right over the cover with two innocent clasped hands. They’re looking for something more along the lines of these covers:

Kill Shot Cover Selling Your Genre

Kill Shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Sangria Salamander Noir Cover Design Selling Your Genre

Sweet Sangria, Salamander Noir

Sharpened Edges The Gathering Ebook Cover Selling Your Genre

Sharpened Edges – The Gathering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, pretending over: it’s 100% real that readers judge a book by its cover. Is your cover selling your book’s genre? Do you have a book cover designer who understands the message a cover sends to a reader? If not, your target audience may never find you, and the people who do click on your cover may be the wrong readers. You do not want to miss out on those readers who could become your biggest fans. (Unless they’re such big fans, they become stalkers. Then you could probably do without.)

What is Self-Publishing?

Self-Publishing is like…

Having a cat

Cats are unpredictable. If you’ve owned them for a while, you know their personalities, and you can usually know what they’re going to do. But it takes time and patience — and sometimes he’s still going to throw up on your bed after you brag to your friends that he always gets off the bed to do it.

Publishing, at first, is unpredictable. You can read all the books and articles you want, talk to all the authors you want to, but unless you do it yourself, you won’t really know what it’s like. It will take time, patience, and sometimes it will still surprise you.

But at the same time, publishing a book is fun. Yes, your book can sometimes sleep for 17 hours a day, but when it wakes up, it will certainly be entertaining. It may even cuddle with you while you’re sleeping or when you’re trying to write.

Planting a garden

You’re planting seeds. Sometimes you have to wait months to see the fruits of your labor. You have to be sure you planted it during the right time of year and in the right spot. You need to water your plant, make sure it gets plenty of sunlight, and in the meantime, keep writing. Some plants to flourish and produce a huge harvest. Others won’t work out, and you won’t know the difference in the beginning.

When that plant does grow, you can give fruit to your friends, make salsa and salads, and be the envy of your neighbors. In other words, if your book does take off, you will love it and you won’t regret planting it!

Buying a lottery ticket

You could have everything right, but sometimes, it’s just luck. The right blogger finds your book and tells the right people about it. The algorithms on Amazon work in your favor. It is always worth a shot, but know that not everyone hits the jackpot.

Self-Publishing is not…

A solitary journey

Yes, you are in charge. Yes, you’re the writer of your own destiny, or whatever. But you can work with a team. You don’t have to do it alone! Have an editor support you in revising the book; hire a cover designer to put your best foot forward. Join a group who can help you with the various distribution options. Get your writer friends to help out with marketing. Find some bloggers who are looking for books to read. It doesn’t take a village to write a book, but it takes one to publish it well.

A seal of approval

You know why some readers look down on self-publishing? Because no one vetted your book. No one said this book is good! And put in money and time to see its success. Some readers want that assurance because they trust the publishers. Some don’t care, not if the cover and blurb is attractive and the first page intrigues them. It’s your job to try to get them not to care — the goal is for them to see your name and know it’s going to be a good read and a good return for their hard-earned (hopefully) money.

In the end? Self-publishing is a journey. It’s challenging, it’s fun, and if you want to do it, go for it. YOLO. I’m saying that in a non-ironic way. You only live once, and there are readers out there who will enjoy your book. Get that book in their hands! Or on their e-reader. Just get it in front of their eyes.

A Handy Guide to Book Cover Font Selection

fonts 150x150 A Handy Guide to Book Cover Font SelectionChoosing the right font can easily make or break a design. Whether you’re designing a movie poster, a billboard or a book cover, the right font is absolutely key. Some poor font choices are so obvious that they can make you cringe. Some mistakes, however, are considerably more subtle. Many authors don’t realize what a big impact the font of their book title and name can have on the overall presentation of your writing. This is why it is imperative that you look at all of your options for fonts and make a decision that you can be confident in.

To Serif or Not to Serif

These are the two primary categories for fonts. Serif fonts are those like Times New Roman, Garamond and Georgia. Serif fonts have little tags at the end of the lines on each character. These fonts are typically used for larger texts (such as the content of a novel or a newspaper article) or to convey formality. Sans-serif fonts, as the name suggests, do not have these little tags and are generally cleaner looking. Common examples of sans fonts are Arial, Helvetica, and the dreaded Comic Sans. Sans-serif fonts are popular for titling and web content because of their readability. Ultimately, the choice is up to you, as both types of fonts can be used elegantly and efficiently.

Novelty Fonts

There are thousands upon thousands of novelty fonts out there, and very few of them will look good on the cover of your book. Novelty fonts come in a broad spectrum of styles and varying levels of silliness, from handwriting and 3-D fonts to the blood-dripping Head Injuries or the debaucherous Group Sex font that depicts stick figures in various letter-shaped sexual positions. Use these fonts sparingly, as they can be overwhelming and detract from the overall tone your cover is trying to convey. If you’ve found a novelty font that you really think suits your book, talk to your designer. They can use elements of the font that you like while keeping the rest of it fairly uniform, increasing legibility.

Font Licensing

When choosing fonts for designs of any kind, people like to search the web. There are dozens of free font websites available that have plenty of usable content. When browsing through these fonts, you must remember that these are another artist’s creation and you have to use them respectfully. Free font websites will have a description of the license for each font. Most of these fonts are not free for commercial use even though they are free for personal use. In these cases, there is usually a way to e-mail the designer or pay a “commercial use” fee to acquire the rights to use the font you’ve chosen. If you’re working with a designer, you don’t need to worry about the licensing, as all professionals already have the licenses for fonts that they use on hand.

Combining Fonts

Most book covers have two distinct lines of text: the book’s title and the author’s name. In a lot of cases, these two lines will be in different font faces. This means that not only do you have to stress yourself out about choosing the right fonts, you have to lose sleep over whether or not those two fonts will work together. Each element in a design needs to compliment the others, and fonts are no different. This is where a professional designer’s advice comes in very handy, but a general rule of thumb is to avoid using two different serif fonts in one design. You should also choose fonts that are not too similar. If you use two fonts that are very close in appearance, they will make each other appear warped or stretched because of the subtle differences.

The thousands of font choices available can seem overwhelming at first, but it’s not an impossible task to pick one (or two). Working with a professional will help to alleviate the burden. Designers have giant font libraries and an eye that is trained to select them, so they can offer you hand-picked options instead of letting you waste time browsing through thousands of fonts. When you’ve found some options you like, type out your book’s title and your name in each font so that you can see how it will work for your particular project. If all else fails, type out the name of a book you hate. If you still like the font afterwards, it’s meant to be.

5 Tips for Choosing Images for Your Book Cover

Choosing a photograph or illustration for your book’s cover can obviously be a daunting task. No matter how imaginative writers can be, visual imagination is not always included. For many authors, the fact that an entire novel requires only one picture to illustrate it is a blessing. The problem is that you still need to come up with that one picture — and it needs to be a good one. Because it’s just one picture. One. The following are a few guidelines to help you formulate and execute a concept for your cover’s imagery.

1. Solidify Your Ideas

Is your book about the plight of a young waitress trying to make it in the cut-throat world of fine dining while juggling her love life? If so, an illustration of a moving truck is probably not your best option for a cover graphic. Think of elements from your story that would fit well in a background image. For the story of our struggling server, a photograph of an abandoned apron could be complimented by a matchbook with a suitor’s phone number scribbled in it. Focus on items or scenes that suggest your subject matter. If you’ve hit a roadblock for image ideas, consult with a designer. The pros handle images for a living and simply leave the words to you.

2. Be Aware of Legal Issues

You may be thrilled when you use Google Image Search to locate that perfect photo for your cover, but beware — licensing issues will probably prevent you from using it. You will need to find the copyright owner (usually the photographer) and acquire written permission to use the image. Some photographers will be happy you’re using their work, some will ask you to pay a fee, and a few will flat-out refuse to let you use their work. In some cases, you may not be able to track down the copyright holder at all. Be prepared for this scenario and have a back up plan. The last thing you want is to have your book ready to go to press, only to be held up by a legal battle over an image.

3. Browse Stock Photo Websites

If you’re really lacking in inspiration for your cover, there are hundreds of stock photo websites that have plenty of imagery available. Search for words that have something to do with your story and see what pops up. You may just find yourself flooded with ideas after seeing what the internet thinks! In the best case scenario, you may even find an image that you want to use for your cover. Stock photo websites sell conditional and exclusive licenses for every image on the site, so securing rights to use one will be a breeze. If you’ve chosen a designer to work with, talk to him or her about using stock photos. They can help you through the licensing process and anything else that gets complicated.

4. Take Your Own Photographs

If you’re looking for something with a little more of a personal touch, try to create your own image. Even cell phones these days have high resolution cameras that can take brilliant photos. There are also thousands of apps that can help you add filters and effects to the photo you’ve taken. When choosing to go this route, however, you must make sure that your photos are being taken in (and staying in) high resolution formats, otherwise they won’t be printable. If you have a photograph that you would like to use but you’re not sure if it will work, show it to your designer. Designers can apply filters and alter photos so that they look great on a book cover.

5. Work With a Professional Designer

No matter how you end up finding and selecting the images for the cover of your book, it is advisable to work with a professional designer to put everything together. They can help you choose fonts and colors that will compliment the imagery you’ve chosen and can even adjust the images you have to better suit a book cover.

If you’re really at a loss for a cover concept, a designer can also help you get those ideas together into a cohesive presentation. You’re the author; no one expects you to be a graphic designer, as well. Working with a professional can help relieve a lot of the stress that comes along with tackling this project.

The Cover Counts

While we’ve been told the opposite since childhood, a book’s cover is going to be heavily judged. As an author, this should both terrify and excite you. A well-designed book cover can sell a teen romance novel to your grandmother, whereas a poorly designed cover can prevent the world’s next bestseller from ever being read. We’ve all seen book covers that are laid out poorly or have illegible titles, but even those who are cautious to avoid these mistakes must ask themselves one question: what the heck are you trying to convey about your book?

There are three specific things you must take into consideration when you are planning your book’s cover. Whether you are trying your hand at creating the visual yourself or enlisting the aid of a professional designer, this mini-checklist will help ensure that you are not marketing your memoir as a murder mystery (unless, of course, you’re a murderer).

1. Choose your colors wisely.

The Hall of the Wood Ebook 187x300 The Cover Counts

This seems to be the simplest of suggestions, but is so often overlooked. A color scheme can make or break the cover of a book. Have you written a coming-of-age novel about a teenage boy during the prohibition era? Blood red text on a black background is probably not a suitable color combination. Is your science fiction story about interspecies political battles on war-torn Jupiter ready for a cover? Perhaps pastels are not for you.

A properly chosen theme of colors can really help to convey the message and mood of your book. Colors translate immediately to the human eye, long before images and text are registered. Gentle, subdued tones can express sentimentality, while more contrasting colors can imply conflict. Obvious associations may be drawn as well, such as shades of blue to imply water, though these can read as trite if overused.

2. Choose imagery that suggests your content.

Walking Disaster 193x300 The Cover CountsThis issue is twofold in cover design. First, we’ll tackle the obvious: don’t use images that fail to represent what your book is about. If you have a collection of anecdotal dating advice, even the most beautiful photograph of an empty beach does not efficiently represent your subject matter. Choose photographs and graphics that are directly associated with the written material.

On the contrary, many authors decide to be too “on the nose” with the imagery on their covers. A story about a troubled clown need not include a sharp illustration of a juggling, white-faced character. A better choice in this case would be a soft-focus circus landscape or an abandoned make-up table. The idea here is to suggest your content, not illustrate it literally.

 

3. Choose a font that is clear and appropriate.

TheDevilsCrayons Ebook 192x300 The Cover CountsAgain, this issue has two aspects worth addressing. Legibility is the primary focus, of course. If you cannot read the title and author of the book, why would you ever choose to open it (or click the link) and learn more? Make sure that your font weight is heavy enough to stand out against busier background images and that any “fancy” fonts used are still easy to read from a distance (or as a thumbnail image). If the title isn’t clear when the cover is reduced in size or read at a distance, you may as well not have put a title on your book at all.

The second mistake many authors make in designing their covers is choosing a font face that does not accurately reflect their book. A swirly, majestic font could be great for a medieval romance, but it is wholly inappropriate for a tale about street punks in the ’70s. Authors should also be wary of fonts that are too decorated, even if they seem to suit the content. This decreases legibility and will often look silly as an end result.

There are numerous decision to be made when planning out the cover for a book. You’ve spent countless hours writing, so why scrimp on time when it comes to packaging? While it may not be ideal, the cover of your book will inevitably decide whether or not a reader decides to investigate further. With all the work that already goes into self publishing, it makes sense to take a little extra time and care to make sure your cover properly represents your work.

Damonza’s Top 10 Book Covers of 2012

2012 was an incredible year for me and Damonza.com. I’ve got to work with some incredible authors and I’m proud to announce that my team and I designed over 200 covers!

Although I am proud of every cover design that we release, inevitably I have some favorites from last year, and I thought I would take this opportunity to list them here. Some were designed by me, and others designed by members of my design team.

Here they are, in ascending order:

10. Engel by Grant Palmquist

001b Engel 192x300 Damonzas Top 10 Book Covers of 2012

9. Mirror Mirror by Les Edgerton

Mirror MirrorD2LR 192x300 Damonzas Top 10 Book Covers of 2012

8. Arson and Ashes by Estevan Vega

arson13 200x300 Damonzas Top 10 Book Covers of 2012 Ashes3 194x300 Damonzas Top 10 Book Covers of 2012

7. I’m Yours by Lindsay Paige

imyours5 192x300 Damonzas Top 10 Book Covers of 2012

6. Beyond the Shadows by Anna Hub

shadows ebook 194x300 Damonzas Top 10 Book Covers of 2012

5. Relatively Famous by Jessica Park

famous1 final2 192x300 Damonzas Top 10 Book Covers of 2012

4. Ghostwriter by Travis Thrasher

GHOSTWRITER Kindle 200x300 Damonzas Top 10 Book Covers of 2012

3. Relative Malice by Marla Madison

malice final medium 192x300 Damonzas Top 10 Book Covers of 2012

2. Stuck by Lamar van Dyke 

Stuck 6b 200x300 Damonzas Top 10 Book Covers of 2012

1. Revenge of a Band Geek Gone Bad by Naomi Rabinowitz

Revenge Of A Band Geek Gone Bad HR 192x300 Damonzas Top 10 Book Covers of 2012

It wasn’t easy choosing a top 10, and of course this is a subjective choice – there were many other covers that were very close to making this list. If you have your own favorites from these sample covers, I’d love to know what they are!

Thanks for reading (and writing!).