Tuesday, February 5, 2013

An Interview of My Favorite Cover Designer, Stephen Walker

I designed my own cover for my first indie published book, Killer Career. Let me tell you, it was a chore! Then Robert W. Walker's covers on Amazon caught my eye, and I asked who did them. Turned out, it was his son, Stephen. Fortunately for me, Stephen was taking on clients!

Stephen Walker is always up for a challenge!
Here he is enjoying his favorite sport, kayaking!

Stephen is very patient and easy to collaborate with. I like to scout for stock photos, and e-mail them to him. Then, by magic, he figures out how to put them together exactly the right way. He suggests backgrounds, he adds special fonts, he moves figures around, and makes a cover all that it can be. 

Here are the ones he designed for me:


Just to let you know, Stephen is quite amenable and adaptable. If I suggest a change that would take me forever to accomplish, he says, okay, like there's nothing to it. Before I know it, I've got the new version. His prices are also very reasonable, and depend on whether or not he provides the photos, and how much time he spends on a project. 

So you can get better acquainted with Stephen, I did this short interview:

How long have you been designing covers?
Over 10 years. Schooled at Portfolio Center in Atlanta

Who have you done covers for?
Robert W. Walker, my father. Morgan Mandel. Mark Terry. John Westerman. Norman Wilson. Jim Ingraham. Linda K. Smith. Ellen Grogan. Chester D. Campbell. Marlys Rold.





Are you taking on new clients?
Yes, of course!

How do you decide what to put on a cover?
That depends greatly on the input from the author. We have a conversation, I read either a synopsis of the book or sample chapters. Many times authors suggest something so specific it is difficult to work with. So what I suggest is thinking in terms of suggestive imagery, allowing readers to use their imaginations, so I love working with silhouettes, light/darkness, and something to set the scene like a dark alley or a city scape.

What programs do you use?
Photoshop and Illustrator primarily.

What other services do you offer?
Web development, identity design (logo, business card, letterhead), brochure and presentation design, posters/trade show large format design. What I do not do is print production, that is offered by 3rd party sources.

Website:

You can reach Stephen Walker at srwalkerdesigns@gmail.com or through his above website. 

Please leave a comment to welcome Stephen to our blog.




Find Morgan Mandel's books at

Twitter: @MorganMandel

23 comments :

  1. Welcome to the Blood-Red Pencil, Stephen! I'm so glad to share your expertise with others!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://www.morganmandel.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Morgan--I thought you did your own covers. Stephen has done a good job on yours. I know you're glad you found him!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Celia, Once I discovered Stephen, there was no going back!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://www.chicklitfaves.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you so much for doing this Morgan! You are so kind! I love doing book covers, I'd be happy just doing them all day long :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. You're so handy at it, you could do a ton of them in one day, Stephen!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://www.morganmandel.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for this post. Having a reliable cover artist is a blessing. I found one who also will keep tweaking until I'm happy, and he's very reasonably priced and there's no extra charge for tweaks. I think my Deadly Bones cover went through 20 iterations before we were both satisfied.
    It's also so important that they understand that ebook covers have to convey so much in a tiny thumbnail image, and then to understand that the e-stores can change them (B&N does that page corner turned up thingie) and make sure nothing important gets lost.
    Plus, there's the 'branding' so that anyone looking at a cover can say, "Oh, that's a Morgan Mandel book", especially in a series.

    Terry
    Terry's Place

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nice work, Stephen ... now for the big question:
    ¿Cuánto dinero para usted?

    ReplyDelete
  8. My books are so completely different I don't worry about the branding aspect. In a way, it's a good idea to carry the brand forward that way. In another, it's not. As a reader. I get easily confused by similar covers, even if they're only similar in style.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://www.morganmandel.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Terry, you bring up an interesting point about branding. Sourcebooks has done a great job of this with Susanna Kearsley's single titles (you can check them out on amazon) with the muted colors, central figure, and burnt edging. Stephen, how do you visually brand an author's single title works if the author doesn't even yet know what she'll be writing about? Or is this a decision for re-worked covers once the author establishes a style?

    ReplyDelete
  10. As to dinero...no one does the kind of quality work that my son does for the price. He is upfront about costs and he does gauges a lot on the level of complexity and what the author wants. He takes in my suggestions, typically goes FAR beyond my expectatons, an viola...what a lovely cover. He is not only fair in pricing but a delight and a pleasure to work with and NO ONE has a faster turn around speed.

    A quick glance at my ebooks on Amazon.com/kindle bks. under my name will give you an array of covers that Stephen has pulled off..My most recent couple have been spectacular to say the least. The kid is a genius with this stuff. I would be lost without him.

    Robert W. Walker (Rob, aka Dad)
    and oh yeah, he did my website at www.robertwalkerbooks.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. PS - shared this with like seven or eight groups on Facebook.

    Rob

    ReplyDelete
  12. You have found a treasure in Stephe, Morgan. And Rob, you already had him. LOL My daughter does some of my covers and my website, so I know what a blessing it is to have that talent in the family. She may not be able to do my next cover, so I might be calling on Stephen. I do like his work.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks Morgan for sharing your cover artist with us. I've noticed that you've had some great covers. Doing cover art really is an art. You have to create a cover that tells the reader what kind of book it is and hint at what the book is about, plus you have to make it compelling and one that the potential buyer won't put back on the shelf. I think Stephen has accomplished that.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you so much for this interview, Morgan. I've been looking for Stephen Walker, and I couldn't remember his first name. His work came to my attention in a post from his dad on MMA, and I made a point to commit it to memory — only the commit part didn't exactly take. I may be looking for someone good to do several new book covers, and my artist grandson is really busy.

    Again, many thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  15. ¿Habla español, Christopher? Estoy aprendiendo — o tratando aprender.

    ReplyDelete
  16. So can we get a ballpark cost for a cover like Morgan's? Or a range at least. "Affordable" is such a relative term. I'd also love to see more covers of the other authors mentioned. Any chance you can hyperlink to their book pages, Morgan? Would be most helpful. Thanks for visiting, Stephen. I, too, have been impressed with your book covers for a while. I'm a professional artist, but I'm not sure I'd want to tackle my own cover art. Just font knowledge is a study onto itself.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I can understand why it's hard to quote pricing if each job is going to be different. My artist's website quotes a basic price of $99. It will vary depending on whether the images he uses are the sort you have to pay for, but he's never charged me more than that.
    As I said, I have several series, and he's done a good job with them. (I like his work better than what my publisher gives me)

    You can see them at my website, terryodell.com

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yes, I charge Between $150 to $300 for a cover depending on your needs. Sometime less in the case where imagery i already provided that I can use. Here are a number of my father' book covers: http://www.srwalkerdesigns.com/portfolio_books.html

    ReplyDelete
  19. You can see the three covers Stephen did for me at http://bit.ly/Wsr3n7. I think he does a great job.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Yes, Chester, your covers are terrific!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://www.morganmandel.com

    ReplyDelete
  21. You gotta have a way with fonts to really make the cover zing - I'm just convinced of that.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Yes, it does take talent!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://www.morganmandel.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. No spreken ze espanol, Linda ... I used the English to Spanish translator on the 'net ... just trying to be funny ... which it obviously was not. ¡Ay, caramba!

    ReplyDelete

The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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