The Making of a Cover

These past two weeks we’ve been touting beautiful, eye-catching book covers, and talking about why they grab our attention.

Today, I thought it would be interesting to look at book covers from a different angle: the making of the cover.

Here’s an interesting video from Random House Books, talking with book cover designers about their designs:

Love's AwakeningBurning SkyHere’s a link to a blog post on Brandon Hill Photos that shows the cover shoot for Laura Frantz‘s new release Love’s Awakening (an excellent novel!) –http://brandonhillphotos.com/loves-awakening/.

And another link to Lori Benton‘s blog post on the making of the cover for her debut release, Burning Sky (another terrific read!) –http://loribenton.blogspot.com/2013/08/burning-sky-making-of-cover.html.

I’d love to know your thoughts about the making of these covers.

Cover Experiment

Admittedly, I’m rarely swayed by a cover. While it may initially draw my attention, it’s the story description that will be the deciding factor of whether I’ll read it or not.

That said, I did a little experiment to see what initially drew my eye and then kept it there. I headed over to FamilyFiction.com, searched by date for 2013, and then visually wandered through the pages of covers. These are the books that leaped out at me, encouraging me to take a look at the description, and why.

Burning Sky

BURNING SKY by Lori Benton – This is an historical romance like many of the books around it, but it’s design is decidedly different. The face is slightly faded (denoting mystery), and I like how the face and hair blend with the land and the sky. The one thing I don’t care for so much is the loop rug in the middle. To me, it doesn’t fit the tone conveyed by the rest of the cover.

A Heart Deceived

A HEART DECEIVED by Michelle Griep – I didn’t find this one on Family Fiction–for some reason it’s not listed there–but it’s one of my favorite covers of the year so I had to show it. Just looking at the cover gives me goosebumps. The dark colors, the leafless tree, the dormered house, no people. And, the author’s name also grabbed me. Love Michelle’s writing!

Rules of Murder

RULES OF MURDER by Julianna Deering – Again, this cover tells the world that this book is different. The colors, the lettering, the man. It all hints at Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. I’m definitely taking a second look.

Renegade

RENEGADE by Mel Odom – I really enjoy a military novel, so the soldier on the cover immediately caught my attention. Here, the author’s name also piques my interest as I’ve enjoyed most of Mel Odom’s military novels.

The Living Room

THE LIVING ROOM by Robert Whitlow – Again, the green on black nabbed my attention, then the body seemingly floating adds interest. Having read may of Robert Whitlow’s works in the past also compels me to take a second look.

When Mockingbirds Sing

WHEN MOCKINGBIRDS SING by Billy Coffey – The muted colors and the lack of a person both drew me in. Hints at being literary.

Sleeping in Eden

SLEEPING IN EDEN by Nicole Baart – I immediately thought about Snow White when I saw this, my eye drawn to the apple. Combine that with the title, and you’ve got instant intrigue. Also, I’ve read a number of Nicole Baart’s works before, and greatly respect her talent as an author.

Fearless

FEARLESS by Mike Dellosso – Can you say creepy? This cover gives me the chills! And screams “Pick me up!” Naturally, I did. 🙂 As a reader of Mike Dellosso’s works, I know the story will live up to the cover.

Fatal Tide

FATAL TIDE by Lis Wiehl – The blue on black drew me in initially, then I had to peer closer to see what the figure was–still don’t have that figured out, but nevertheless, it’s intriguing.

So, what drew me to the above covers?

  • Color. That’s the first thing I noticed on each cover, and often it’s a blue or green on black that draws me.
  • It’s different. Does the cover tell the reader that this story is different? I’m constantly on the lookout for stories that stray from the norm.
  • Mystery. Do the covers convey mystery? If so, I’m likely to take a second glance.
  • Familiar Author. If I’ve enjoyed novels by the author in the past, the author’s name will definitely catch my eye.
  • No person. Not having any person on the cover is very curious. It tells me that the cover may be literary, and my favorite reads are often literary.

When you’re looking at covers, what initially draws your attention? What will keep it there?

Cover Story

Covers play a big part in whether or not I’ll purchase a book. A good cover should give me a feel for the overall essence of the story. The best ones portray a scene and leave me wondering what has happened previously and what is going to happen next. The picture should lure me into the main character’s world, begging me to open the pages and become a part of their journey.

51Y9bTHOxoL._SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_[1]With that said I’ve found a few books whose covers do just that. I’ll admit that the title of the first one caught my attention initially but the cover itself is just as intriguing. Since I love the song by the same name, Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not? A Novel by Thompson Square and Travis Thrasher, I couldn’t help but look twice. Yes, the country duo co-authored a book with Thrasher and the cover makes me want to jump right in and find out what the lyrics of the song are really all about. The silhouettes of two lovers “sittin’ up there on your momma’s roof” immediately pulls me in. I’m dying to know the story of those two. (It also helps that the song runs through my mind as I gaze at the cover.)

51wRi1P2w2L._SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_[1]The second cover I chose is Sinners and the Sea: The Untold Story of Noah’s Wife by Rebecca Kanner. The expression on Noah’s wife’s face makes me wonder what she’s thinking. Is she perplexed at her husband’s claims of conversations with God? A burning bush? Come now, Noah. The menacing storm clouds and jagged rocks by gray seas definitely make me want to know her story.

51-ZYMb8qNL._SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_[1]Since I also love middle grade fiction, I chose this adorable cover of A Big Year for Lilly (The Adventures of Lily Lapp) by Suzanne Woods Fisher and Mary Ann Kinsinger. I mean, just look at those two sweet little Amish girls. If you ask me they look like they’ve got adventure up their sleeves.

What are some cool covers that have caught your attention? Come over and share. Now that fall is just around the corner, we’re always looking for good books to read.    

The First Glance

As authors, I think we tend to ponder over all types of things when it comes to our writing.  Everything from the words that we put on the paper, to the way in which their formatted, and yes, even to what the final package is going to look like.  As readers, I think that final package is one of the most important elements when choosing a book.

I know not everyone will agree with me, but for me, the first thing that draws me to the book is the cover. If the cover doesn’t look interesting, the back cover copy or book description doesn’t usually even get a glance. I know it’s not fair.  After all, the parable tells us do not judge a book by its cover. But I do. And that’s why I think that covers are one of the most important elements of a book.

As a self publishing indie author, I’m in charge of all of the elements of my books from the first story draft all the way to the complete package, and that includes the cover. And while working on my first book, Biloxi Sunrise, I knew that I needed something that would really catch people’s attention. So, I turned to a professional designer to create the cover.  I was truly blessed, because I did find a great designer, and I think she did a fantastic job. Such a good job, in fact, that I’ve asked her to do all the covers for this series.

It got me thinking, though.  What goes into an eye catching cover? Is it coloring? Or wording? Characters? Or impressions?  Here’s what I think is most important.

  • It must be eye-catching. This is an element that’s hard to explain.  A great book cover should really grab hold a reader and make them  want to read the book.  For me, that means the cover should contain some elements of mystery or murder.  For example, a cover that I think does an excellent job of portraying these things is for The Righteous, by Michael Wallace.  The cover calls out to me and makes me want to read the book, just to find out what’s going on.
  • The title and author MUST be immediately obvious. I know, I’m strange.  But I don’t like to pick up a book if I can’t tell what the title is.  The author is important, too, I’m not sure why.  But the title is far more critical to me.  I can dislike covers where the author’s name is more prominent than the title of the book.  It’s like saying “Hey, read this book because this author wrote it,” instead of telling a reader to pick up a book because it’s about a certain story.  For instance, with the cover for The Righteous, I really want to know just what exactly the righteous is. What does it mean?
  • It must be professionally done. Amateur covers scream to me of amateur writing.  I know that’s not a fair judgement, but it’s the honest impression that I get.  I prefer to see covers that look like they were designed by someone who has been trained in graphic design rather than by someone who is actually an author trying to do things on the cheap.  For example, I think all of Dee Henderson’s covers are very well done. Her cover designers take the time understand not only who they are trying to reach, but also the content of the story. A well-done cover says to me that the author cares about impressing the reader.  And as a reader, I like to be impressed.

What do you consider an element of well-created cover?  And what are some of your favorites?