I start by asking clients what the book is about, what the tone should be, and if they have any images or colors in mind. Then I'll do an initial exploration. I search for free images that would work as well as lay down some text options. Sometimes the right font is the design. But usually the hardest part is finding the right image. For the first round I send between 5 and 10 options. Then I strip away all the text and go round and round until the imagery is perfect. This often includes compositing multiple photos, adjusting colors and contrast, and lighting effects.
(You'll notice he'd already inserted my name in these samples. That's because this is the 3rd book in my Pine Hill Police series, and having continuity is important so readers can identify both my name and the series. The font and placement is the same for all the books.)
We discussed these, and from this selection, we eliminated the scenics because they didn't fit the story(and the book takes place in the summer, so the snow wouldn't work). We also eliminated the chocolate, because although it fit the bakery, it wouldn't match the focus of the book, which was Scott's personal growth, not Ashley's bakery. I also told him I didn't want a "cheery" color scheme, because of the nature of the book.
Once I'd looked at his proposed images, I narrowed it down to three. By this time, I'd decided on the title, so Dave started working those treatments into his samples.
The bakery building and the street scene gave the cover a "cozy" feel, which wasn't appropriate for my romantic suspense genre. Dave worked on the remaining "possibles" and sent another round. I told him which background I preferred, and then he really got to work. In his words:
Once the client picks a background, then I'll start on text exploration. The right font is key. The text is really what separates a professionally designed cover from something that looks homemade. If you have smaller words like "the" or "in" it's helpful to make them smaller. Colors, shadows, 3D effects all help to make a title that pops off the page. Again, I like to send at least 5-10 font choices, so that authors can pick their favorites. And if they don't feel like any are working, I'll come up with 10 more.
And he means it. Dave has the patience of a saint, I swear. After we decided on the right image for the cover, he was willing to tweak things like colors, fonts, lighting, and teeny tiny nudges to the layout—I think we ended up with 16 variations before we agreed we'd found The Cover.
This is the final version:
Dave's philosophy: Because it takes a long time to write a book, the cover should match the writing effort. You can find more about Dave's work at his website.
You can see all the Pine Hills Police Covers here.
One last tidbit - since covers are one facet of indie publishing, I thought I'd mention that I did a series of "lectures" at the Coffeetime Romance & More forum (and there's no genre discrimination--indie publishing is open to all). If you want to see them, you can find them here.
|Terry Odell is the author of numerous romantic suspense novels, mystery novels, as well as contemporary romance short stories. Most of her books are available in both print and digital formats. She’s the author of the Blackthorne, Inc. series, steamy romantic suspense novels featuring a team of covert ops specialists, the Pine Hills Police series, set in a small Oregon town, and the Mapleton Mystery series, featuring a reluctant police chief in a small Colorado town. To see all her books, visit her website. You can also find her at her blog, Terry's Place, as well as follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.|