Today I have an amazing guest. Harper Alexander is here to discuss what goes into the making of a book cover! Harper did the cover for Black Powder Brigade, which is amazing, by the way, and she does fantastic pre-made and custom cover work! Take it away, Harper!
When asked what I do for a living, the goal used to be to answer: I’m an author. But as it turns out, I’ve ended up cashing in more on other people’s books, than my own. Yet it was still me being an ‘author’ that established this career.
What career is that, you ask? That of a book cover designer.
When I’m asked what I do for a living now, that is the answer I give. Many are surprised, and wonder how in the world I got into such an interesting niche. What they don’t realize is that I was an author first, and from there, if you’re any kind of artist at all, it’s a fairly logical jump. As an indie author that didn’t have a fortune to invest in getting my books published, I did everything myself. That, of course, included making my own covers.
I’ve always been somewhat of an artist, so it was always kind of natural for me to create some sort of cover to go along with my story. But at some point, I started looking at my covers, and then at other ‘professional’ covers, and realizing that what they were doing was nothing that I couldn’t do, or wasn’t doing already. I realized there was no reason I couldn’t make covers for other authors as well!
There are two main sides to my job: pre-made book covers, and custom book covers. ‘Premades’ are covers that I just sit down and create based on whatever I feel like creating, and then they get posted for sale as-is, for whoever might happen to want to buy them. Custom covers are pretty self-explanatory; if an author has a special idea in mind that they would like to see created, they can commission me for it. We discuss the idea, come up with a quote based on the details we agree on, and then I do my best to match their vision.
So what goes into the actual design process? There’s no standard formula. If it’s premade covers I’m working on, it’s as often experimentation or accidental effects that end up creating the final product. I just sit down and do stuff, and when I like it, I post it. If I’m going for something deliberate, as with custom jobs, there are two main methods for fulfilling the details: bringing in elements from multiple images and combining them into one, or painting the elements from scratch.
For example, this cover that I did for my urban fantasy ‘Bounty’ is a combination of about thirteen different images:
Often, a model’s features and/or clothing need to be changed:
Sometimes, it’s impossible to find the resources for every detail that a client wants, but I’ve yet to have anyone unsatisfied with the result.
So far, clients not only rave about the result of the design itself, but about the results of their book getting noticed, and snatched up by readers as well. I can’t help but feel that this may very well be a benefit of me starting as an author, being immersed in the book world rather than just the art world. As both an avid reader and an indie author keeping my eye on the competition, I know what best-selling books look like. I know what catches my eye as a reader, and how to make my books stand out against or compare to others, because that’s necessary for survival as an indie author.
Who knew all those years doing my author research, I was really training to be a designer!
If you’re an author in need of a cover, I would love to hear from you. For more detailed information including contact, prices, galleries and such, please visit my design website: www.bookcovermachine.wordpress.com
If you’re curious about my author self, feel free to visit my author blog: www.harperpages.wordpress.com.
I hope you have found something interesting in this small un-veiling of what it is to design book covers! Happy writing, reading, and everything book-ish!