Happy Weekend, WG2E-Land!
Time for our next Ruth Harris Report!!!
Take it away, Ruth…
Because covers are massively important (I’ve read that 40% of the human brain is devoted to processing visual images), they require a substantial investment of time, thought, talent, and money.
I’ve asked half a dozen of the best cover designers in the epub world questions about what they do, how they do it, and the author-designer collaboration. Our talented and knowledgeable designers are Kim Van Meter, Nina Paules, Jen Talty, Stewart Williams, Kim Killion and Laura Morrigan.
1) Do you have a specialty (or specialties) such as chick lit, thrillers, horror, women’s fiction, fantasy, etc?
Kim Van Meter: I like to work in all genres as it is a chance to grow my skills, but the majority of my work has been within the romance genre. Since I write romance as well, many of my clients have said that I understand the tone the client wants to convey with their cover.
Nina Paules: My specialty is more design specific as opposed to genre specific. Drawn covers (like for children’s books and some fantasy) are outside my preferred design scope. I design covers by manipulating existing digital imagery. If the image or images exist I can blend/recolor/refashion those images into a saleable cover.
Jen Talty: I do all the covers for WDWPUB, so it ranges from non-fiction to science fiction, historical fiction, thrillers, all the way to romances. Some of the hardest covers have been the Medieval Romances because its hard to find images from that time period. Also, Bob Mayer’s Psychic Warrior series proved to be a bit difficult, but once we found the right concept, we were golden. I love doing all different kinds of covers and mostly enjoy working with the authors to help create the vision they have for the book.
Stewart Williams: I tend to prefer working on fiction most, but that said I’ll work on anything, though in the printed world I tend to get more non-fiction work.
Kim Killion: while Hot Damn Designs is mostly associated with sexy romance covers, we do design covers for genre from Chick Lit to Inspirational to Women’s Fiction to Psychological Thrillers. Of course, since I personally write Scottish Historicals, I have a soft spot for creating historical covers.
Laura Morrigan: Nope- I do it all, lol.
2) Do you want suggestions from the author? Do you prefer to present the author with a concept? How specific do you like the author to be?
Kim Van Meter: I don’t mind suggestions from the author at all; however, sometimes when the client is too rigid in what they think they want, they aren’t open to finding what they truly want. Bottom line, everyone wants a beautiful cover — designer included — so we’re all on the same page and that’s what matters.
Nina Paules: The design muse needs a starting point. This should come from the author. The sales/book blurb, a few links to preferred designs of existing (saleable) covers and/ a lightbox with a handful of suitable images is a good place to start.
Jen Talty: I work very differently with each author, but input is always welcome. With Bob, sometimes he doesn’t know what he wants, so I come up with five or six very different ideas and we go from there. Other times he has very specific ideas. When we were working on Duty, Honor, Country A Novel from West Point to The Civil War, he knew he wanted an image of Ulysis S. Grant and he also wanted it to feel like a “history” book. He was very specific and it worked out well. With I, Judas The 5th Gospel, coming this June, all he did was give me his outline. I hit that cover with one try, which rarely happens.
Stewart Williams: It always helps if the author has some sort of place to being with what their vision is for their book, be it some sort of written description or at least some visual samples from other books they think fit their market demographic. Often times an author might come to me with an idea that attempts to try and be too literal or incorporate too many ideas into one image, and my job is to help simplify and make the strongest most unique image to compete with other titles. I think it’s best for an author not to come to a designer and say “this is exactly what I want” because in general that’s basically doing a designer’s job and you’re really looking for a production artist at that point. If you admire a designer’s work then at some point there’s a leap of faith in trusting a designer to do their job, which of course can be scary, but a designer with decades of experience is going to know what they’re talking about, even if it doesn’t seem to make sense right away. In general though, working with an author alone is much more preferable to say a room full of editors and marketing people with input coming for too many directions, where a great idea can get watered down and end up weak or muddled.
Kim Killion: We welcome feedback from our clients. Here’s what we ask on our Cover Questionnaire we send to authors when they hire Hot Damn Designs to develop a cover or covers for them. This isn’t including the area for authors to include images or links of images that they like or give the feel of what they envision for their cover(s).
• What is the author name?
• What is the Book Title?
• What is the Series Title? (if any)
• What is the genre?
• What is the setting? (year/location)
• Do you have a label? (i.e. New York Times Bestselling Author, Award-Winning Author, etc.)
• Is there a quote you would like to use?
• Is there a tagline? (i.e. He would do anything to have her…) *If you don’t have a quote, please come up with a tagline. It gives the cover a more professional look.
• Do you want a spine and back designed for POD?
• Is there a blurb you can provide me?
• What is the coloring of the hero and heroine?
• What is the feel, including heat level? Dark? Historical? Sexy? Sweet?
• Do you envision a couple on the cover or perhaps just the hero or perhaps just the heroine? Or do you want a landscape only?
Laura Morrigan: I have a list of cover art questions I give my clients. If they have their heart set on something or clear picture I always want to know so we can discuss it. But I’ve also had clients who leave it up to me. I use the answers they give me to come up with a concept.
You can see examples of our designers’ work and contact them at their websites:
Kim Van Meter: www.kimberlyvanmeter.com
Nina Paules: ebookprep
Jen Talty: jentalty.com
Stewart Williams: www.stewartwilliamsdesign.com
Kimberly Killion: www.HotDamnDesigns.com
Laura Morrigan: Laura Morrigan
In Part 2 our designers will share their expertise about: how & where to start, choosing an image, which revisions are quick/easy to make and which are more time-consuming, difficult.
It’s Your Turn, WG2E-Land: What stood-out for each of you in today’s superfab Ruth Harris Report?!
The Best of WG2E Ruth Harris Reports Wishes — Ruth Harris
New York Times bestselling author Ruth Harris has sold many millions of copies around the world in hardcover and paperback editions. Her fiction has been translated into 19 languages, published in 25 countries and selected by the Literary Guild and Book-of-the-Month Club. Ms. Harris worked in traditional print publishing as a copywriter, editor and publisher before turning to the exciting new opportunities in electronic publishing. She lives in New York City with her husband, writer Michael Harris, the author of Always On Sunday and The Atomic Times: My H-Bomb Year at the Pacific Proving Ground, both available in Kindle editions.
And check out Ruth’s next gorgeous Cover: