As readers, we tell ourselves that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. We even spout this kernel of knowledge to others. But we all know the ugly truth. A great book cover grabs our attention and can make us drool in anticipation. I admit I am guilty of buying books based solely on their covers. And in this age of online browsing, it is never hard for me to find Pinterest worthy book covers that span across all sub-genres of romance:
However, I’ve also seen some absolutely horrendous ones as well. Over pixelation, poor resolution, sub-par font selection, and even worse photo-shopping skills that I had when I was 10 years old and tried to use MS Paint for the first time. I won’t share those covers here, but I’m sure you’ve all seen them at one point. Today, as a sort of PSA, I thought I’d share some basic knowledge I’ve picked up over the last few years in the hopes that the madness will stop.
Have you ever wondered what went into the making of a great cover? If you follow me on social media, or have checked out any of my book covers, you know that I have some serious love for Taria Reed of The Reed Files. She is both an amazing photographer and cover artist. She’s designed the cover art for almost all of my books and I think she’s amazeballz. Aside from her amazing talent, I love that Taria enjoys sharing her creative process on social media.
After watching some of her videos, you quickly understand that there is true skill that goes into making and designing romance book covers. A really great cover can’t be made by throwing some text onto stock images. Designing a great cover requires an understanding of color, light, shadows, composition, and layout.
Although great covers have been made from stock photography, have you ever wondered where those photos came from? Cover shoots with great models are the foundation blocks of any cover design. Most people don’t realize that custom photo shoots are often ordered for covers, especially for books featuring people of color. Studios like The Reed Files are becoming known for their roster of gorgeous models of different races and ethnicities. The photos taken from the video below will be used for several different covers, but I guarantee that you will probably never notice. Well at least if the design is done correctly. Also, can we have a WOOT! for the afro on that model? I LOVE it!
BTS Periscope with Angel & Amanda from TheReedFiles.com on Vimeo.
Once images are chosen, cover designers get to work on creating the final product. They are working off of the crystal clear and completely murky instructions provided by authors and publishers. Some covers are created to resemble real-life photography, while other times art illustration is requested. Below is an example of how illustration is used along with photos to create a cover.
And there you have it. The basics (not really actually) of book cover design. There are some obvious steps that I’ve left out, but I recommend befriending a cover artist and picking their brain. From a reader perspective, it is great to see the nuts and bolts of the machinery behind publishing. Plus befriending a few of the models on social media puts some pretty great images on your Facebook feed ;).
Are there any covers you’ve seen this year that you absolutely loved? If so share the names in the comments below. Let’s take some time to appreciate some truly luscious and beautiful art!
Laurel Cremant is an opinionated author and reader of romance with a wicked sense of humor. RNIC was smart (or crazy) to bring her on as a blogger. In 2016 she took over the management of this site and relishes her new title of “Overlord of Awesome”