Book Covers

on Thursday, January 7, 2016
    There are lots of different designs for book covers. I've done a lot of research on this because while Husband of Mine was on break, he was putting together my design for my book cover. Today is going to be the grand reveal! Yay! 
    So here it is. My design for the cover of Powerful.

    Now keep in mind that this is not the actual book cover. This was simply my idea that I very roughly sketched out in a notebook and passed along to Husband of Mine to put together since he does graphic design work.
    My idea was to incorporate the alchemic element of the story with the Four Kingdom crests (in the order they appear on the map) to represent each power. Originally I was going to put a crown in the center as a symbol for Kylanore, but it got lost in the rest of the design, so I opted for a silhouette instead.
    This is mostly for me, since the actual book cover will not be designed until the book is actually finished. Mostly I used this as a motivation tool to push me to work on edits. After the book is finished and queries are sent out, I will either get picked up by a publisher or self-publish. If I am picked up by a publisher, then they will hire a cover designer to make the actual cover. My biggest concern with that, is that I do not like the current model of YA Fantasy book covers. In fact, I hate most book covers I see right now. They all look exactly the same.

   Dark colors, crazy fonts, and the "strong, female main character" wearing a pretty dress and posed in an awkward position either staring at the cover or off into the distance. Seriously. Google "ya fantasy book cover" if you don't believe me. 

    I'm not kidding. My favorite is the cover of Selection, because every girl stands with their arms like that (and the sequel, too).

    Now keep in mind, I'm not commenting at all on the actual content of the books. I've heard great things about the Selection Series. I'm only commenting on the blandness of the design, which usually isn't even a comment on the designer. It's the marketing.
    If I get picked up by a publisher and they hire out a designer to do the cover, then the publisher gets to have the most say on how the cover looks because they are the ones who have experience in marketing, and even though we're not supposed to judge a book on it's cover, we all do. Publishers know that. And that's why so many book covers look identical.
    But I don't like those covers! While I will get some say in the design of the cover, my word carries little weight compared to everyone else who has experience in marketing and designing. But I wanted to have a nicer looking design than my notebook drawings to give an idea of what I wanted for my book cover.
   Comments I've received on my design (from fellow writers)- 

  • It looks like a science textbook rather than a fantasy book.
  • The beakers and crests are intriguing.
  • The colors are pretty and catch the eye.
  • It seems impersonal and doesn't strike an emotional chord or connection with potential readers.

    I got the reaction I wanted on the colors and the basic design, though it doesn't seem to be quite enough to attract enough readers. That being said, most of the feedback ended on the same thought I already knew- Add a picture or scene of the main character (which was something I tried to avoid). I purposely designed it to look more sciencey because of the alchemy storyline, and because I wanted my book to look different from the scores of other books on the shelf. But I do agree that for marketing purposes, I'll probably have to concede and include an actual picture of a girl to represent Kyla.
    If you look up advice on book cover design, you'll see lots of different tidbits about actual design work (fonts, color schemes, etc.), but everything boils down to one big fact- Authors are not designers, therefore authors should not design their own covers. And I have to agree. It becomes too personal. While I think authors should have some say in the final cover, in the end it should be someone else's handiwork. And that is why my design will not be the final cover art for Powerful.


Heather Hayden said...

Great post! I definitely agree with the sentiment that authors shouldn't design their own book covers, though I'm definitely in the design-my-own-for-motivation group with you! Although I usually have my artist sister do the designing-for-motivation for me, since my ability

Although I think the comments you've gotten on your cover have merit, I really like its design. It's different in an interesting way, and would be eye-catching for me on a shelf--the overload of girls-posing-in-dresses has definitely passed critical in my opinion.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your post. I'm getting so many helpful tips.
Good thing I already found someone to do my book cover.
My next novel is a fantasy and I don't want them to appear identical like the ones you've showed. They don't even invite me. So, I don't understand why they're designing the covers like that. Shouldn't they be original, not similar?

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