I recently took a break from editing my book and worked on some cover art. Instead of “borrowing” images from the internet, I decided to do some original artwork.
My novel is a historical thriller that intertwines the story of Queen Elizabeth I with a modern tale, complete with puzzles. I wanted my cover to look modern, but hint at the history that is included within.
First, I printed off some reference pictures. Queen Elizabeth I is pretty iconic, so I thought her image would look great on a cover.
Next, I sketched out a design and colored it in. Afterwards, I scanned it into my computer so I could play around with the image.
I tried out different layouts and fonts. I want the cover to be clean, but something that would interest me if I saw it on a bookshelf. As of yet, I haven’t hit on the winning design, but I’m enjoying the process. Now that I look at it, I think readers may get the wrong impression about the book – the Queen Elizabeth sections are much shorter than the modern day parts. I’ll have to rethink this and keep playing around. I also felt like my font choices were pretty limited. I’ll have to download some new ones soon.
What about a book’s design makes you want to pick it up off the shelf?
You know what would be an awesome bookish career? I think it would be pretty cool to be a book designer. I was curious to find out how one becomes a book designer and what the work is like. I enjoyed this article on Literally, Darling.com that interviewed Penguin Random House book designer Daniela Medina. She points out that it’s important to have a love of books and that understanding and being able to analyze literature is a useful skill too, as “It’s one thing to design a beautiful cover – which is difficult enough in itself – and it’s another to design a beautiful book cover that does real justice to the words inside.” Another interesting thing I learned is that a book designer is often working on multiple projects at once and they are always in different stages, so there is a lot of organization and project management going on. Jack Noel from Walker Books mentions this too in a post on The Reading Agency. He notes, “With many long-running simultaneous projects you need to be on top of it all, alongside dealing with artists, their agents and production costs.” His advice for young people who are interested in becoming designers themselves is to “Do what you can to learn the computer programs (InDesign and Photoshop, mainly) and create a portfolio – fill it with whatever you want – redesigned book covers, logos for friends, posters for bands that don’t exist. To be a designer you need a little bit of skill and a lot of enthusiasm and a portfolio of self-initiated projects is a good way to show both.” While it would be awesome to see your work come to life as an actual book, it would be tough to be creative all the time, continuously coming up with fresh concepts. This makes me appreciate all the work that goes into each cover.
Don’t you love looking at the covers of books? I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but let’s be real. Don’t you gravitate to the books that catch your eye on the shelf? It’s really too bad that you can only see the spines on a library shelf. They look so much more appealing when you see the full cover. Here are some 2015 and 2016 YA releases that have interesting and beautiful covers. I would definitely pick these books up to see what they’re about.
How about you – which books are you intrigued by? Would you want to be a book designer?
Entry #4 – Cover: I know they say “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but sometimes you can’t help it! Share a favorite.
Ok, so this topic sounded easy…but turns out I don’t actually have a favorite cover! I perused my bookshelves, Kindle, and internet images until I created a collection of covers I was drawn to (I have read all of these books and own five of them). Here’s what I came up with:
Pink seems to be a common thread among these covers, as does a young woman gazing off to the side! Is it bad that I’m drawn to pretty, girly images? Of course not. A lot of thought has gone into each of these covers. Designers, photographers, artists, and authors have worked together to create an image that will hook the right reader. Does my taste in covers mean I’m predictable and conform to the stereotypes that publishers are counting on? Maybe! But I’m not too worried about it. I’m being honest about what I like, and I do give other books a fair chance. Not every book on my shelf is a beauty!
If you’re interested in learning more about book covers, I highly recommend checking out Kate Hart’s infographics based on Young Adult book covers. She examines the colors, images, and diversity in covers and presents the information in easy to understand graphics. http://www.katehart.net/2012/05/uncovering-ya-covers-2011.html