22 Mar 2015

Judge a Book by Its Cover: Part 3

Blog-03-22-15As independent authors, we face the following challenges in regard to our covers:

  • Shackled by budget
  • Desperate for distinction
  • Questionable art quality

But some of us have managed to produce serviceable, if not excellent, book covers, despite those confines. We can still produce eye-catching book covers despite being “indie.” Here are some examples:

1.) Public domain photographs go a long way.


All right, so the title font is low resolution, and the font selected for the author’s name needs to have an intervention with other, more sober fonts. You’re right on both those accounts. However, consider that the cover has an effective layout. The front and center photograph are vibrant and informs us about the subject matter. You can look at this cover and not only  know what you are in for, but it presents the material in a compelling manner.

2.) Don’t underestimate the power of the pencil.


Know a talented high schooler that needs a few bucks? Got a family member who is crafty with pencils? The intimacy conveyed by the texture of graphic and colored pencil cannot be taken for granted. With this cover in particular, I find an alluring economy of technology and nature. While the pumpkin being held by the synthetic arm is an apparent theme, this hand-drawn cover is a reinforcement of that very theme. This also hints at I, Robot’s iconic cover without ripping it off. This presents something new, interesting, and I find myself asking, “What is up with that pumpkin?”

(PS: It is possible that this is digitally drawn, but it looks so ORGANIC to me, I don’t care!)

3. ) Be imprecise sometimes. The reader will be engaged as they fill in the blanks.


This cover is dynamite. I love the color and the textures of the characters. As I observe their bodies, it’s clear that the strokes that painted them were broad and almost angry, much like the action occurring here. It makes elements of the action hard to perceive, but I still sense the conflict and raw nature of the setting. Both men here seem to represent the “proto” versions of their warring culture, and the rocking title sure doesn’t hurt.

4.) Your text and artwork can form a glorious union.


When the text and artwork click together, it can be GLORIOUS. I freaking adore this cover. I love the artwork, the format, and the text seems to have been there all along. Everything here  locks into place deliciously. When looking at this, I know that someone cared enough to produce a haunting, vivid work to cloak his or her writing in. What promises await inside?

5.) Photoshop is your friend!

Book-Cover small

With the miracle that is Photoshop, you can easily take a one dollar picture, or even something public domain, and go bonkers with it. You can add grain, shadow, or mist effects, and what was once a boring old picture now suddenly pops. It could have just been a lady holding a ball. Pretty boring, but after a bit of subtle photoshopping we’ve got Christmas EVERYWHERE. There is a soft glow to everything, like someone pulled a stocking over the camera, and the title lettering has a reflective surface that gives it tangible gravity. The artist here did a whole lot with very little and knew when to STOP.

6.) If you’ve got it, flaunt it…

The Line concept 1 (5)

Make certain that your cover is so good that it can double as marketing material. This will save you time and money in the long run. If your cover doesn’t impact as strongly as an ad FOR the novel, your cover was lacking. Good covers take time, and they do cost money. But that bit of money upfront for a rocking cover will save you bundles in marketing material, especially if you work with a flexible artist that can give you the assets of the cover separately. Case in point:



Producing a good cover is not beyond you in the least. As an indie author, I would even assert that having a compelling and engaging cover is even MORE vital to you than someone who is an established author. Stephen King could have a cover that is jet black with only his name, and it would still sell. We don’t have such hard-earned luxury just yet. To get to where he is, we have to make certain that we are read FIRST. And it begins with the cover.

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  1. Angélique

    I love The Line’s book cover. I shamelessly admit that it is the main reason I wanted to read the book. It just sends all the right messages: 1) I’m a Sci-Fi book 2) I mean it! A REAL Sci-Fi book with science, technology and a creepy monster dude. It’s no cheesy love story in space. 3) My author cares about details: I have a quality book cover. Actually, I don’t look like an independent author book at first sight.

    Oh, and a detail about The Line book cover: it’s really minor I guess but the texture of the book cover is great. For some strange reason, many independent books have a (very) glossy book cover. The Line’s book cover isn’t. I liked that. 🙂


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