5 things I wish I’d known: ebook cover design

When I began this foray into indie publishing via ebooks, I thought I had a pretty good handle on some basic tenements of desktop publishing. I’ve created quite a few graphic design things for folks: posters, web graphics, brochures, etc. because I had plenty of Photoshop skills. I figured book covers would be easy.

Easy like going over Niagara Falls in a barrel and about as safe a landing.

Book cover art has certain things that make it stand out from the usual desktop published graphic. And there are five things I wish I’d considered before jumping to upload my cover art.

1. It needs to be a certain ratio. I discovered exactly WHAT the ratio was only after I’d done up my four covers and posted them all over the interweb. Sheesh. Can you spell ninny? (novels and nonfic have different ratios)

2. While the typical graphic has a max of 3 fonts, a book’s cover (I discovered) has 2 max. Wish I’d known that one.

3. You need a cover that speaks to the genre. I was trying to go for impact (which is important—critical, actually) but it also needs to inform the viewer visually what the genre is. Duh. Again: can you spell ninny?

4. Your cover needs to look great and be readable as a thumbnail. If it doesn’t then you need to rework it.

5. It should still look good in B/W as it’ll be that shade on a Kindle reader.

There are some really great links on cover art for books and ebooks. I shouldn’t really try to write an article about it, as I’m no expert, but I can point you in the direction of some folks who know.

Meantime, Here’s a pic of my first cover for Secret Language of Crows which evolved to the second, which is evolving into the final based on comments from a cover art review blog that really opened my eyes. You tell me which you like best. In fact, feel free to make any comment at all or feel free to post a link to your own cover art at my facebook page.

And as I draw closer to completing this final evolution, I plan to give away a free copy of SLOC. To enter to win, just write a comment that says, “Pick Me!” Or some such foolishness. Comments on the covers will be automatically entered. grin.

One last thought: In the end, the most recent cover I created using all the things I’ve learned is my favorite.

Formed of Clay now has what I think is a decent design that I think grabs the eye. It’s simple and uses some great art that I bought from fotolia.com and put together with some nice text choices.

So: my pearl of wisdom: create the cover long before you publish. Make sure it’s what you want, that it has impact, that it inspires a reader to buy. Don’t just throw it together or you could end up messing with it on the fly over and over again.

BTW: don’t forget to leave a comment if you’d like to be entered to win a FREE copy of SLOC. I’ll draw the winner and send them a coupon through Smashwords. Thanks for visiting today.

Thea Atkinson is a writer of character driven fiction.

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21 comments on “5 things I wish I’d known: ebook cover design
  1. Vi says:

    I can create stylish and professional 3D and flat ebook covers, starting from $5. You will sell more books with a great-looking cover. Over 20 different styles available. You can check out my website and design portfolio at http://www.e-bookcoverdesign.com

  2. […] 5 Things I wish I’d known about ebook cover design […]

  3. Suzon Martin says:

    Hi Thea…..I am a reader who just discovered your books. Personally, I think all of your covers are outstanding! I love the way the colors, fonts, imaging all work together. Your covers make a statement about the content of your story. I would expect to be reading psychological and historical fiction just based on the covers alone. They also tie each book together, even if the story is not continued, your theme of writing is.

    As for SLOC, I like the second cover the best. Although I would not be unhappy with the third cover! I don’t like the first cover. I think the introduction of that “cool blue” messes with all your warm colors on the other covers.

    Best wishes from me to you with your writing career! Now that I have found you, I will be one of your new readers!

    • theaatkinson says:

      Suzon:

      wow am I glad you popped by my blog today. You just made me a very happy woman. Thanks so much for your comments and encouragement. I’m pleased to hear such nice things. (we all love compliments, eh? but the self doubting writer in me can go on a single kind word for a week. ) Yours will keep me going for a while yet. grin

  4. Mary says:

    Ooooo! Pick me, please. And please again. Followed by thank you.

  5. Number three I think is the best cover. I was gonna say the blue one but it’s just too plain. Three has way more going on that makes it more interesting and grabs faster attention.

    • theaatkinson says:

      thanks, Patricia. I’m still tweaking. thinking of combining them all in the hopes of getting the best of em all. glad you stopped by. Please feel free to do so again!

  6. Kendall Grey says:

    THanks so much for sharing what you learned in the process of designing your cover. Lots of helpful info and links!

    I had the “genre” problem with my book. My awesome cover artist did a beautiful cover that I *loved* but then people told us it didn’t look like urban fantasy. They were totally right. We weren’t thinking about the genre as we should have been. Bugger. But that cover is gorgeous and I think we will use it for other marketing stuff.🙂

    • theaatkinson says:

      yes. sometimes the covers ARE stunning. genre can be the bugger there. thanks for visiting. What is the title of your book, btw: would love to look it up.

  7. Icy Sedgwick says:

    Go for the second Secret Language of Crows cover – the text is more legible.

  8. I like the second cover better than the new one, babe. The title on the third is too hard to read. Plus, the second cover works so nicely when put in a line with your other books.

    But… what do I know? Photoshop makes me quiver and whimper in fear. I have to farm my stuff out.

  9. Thea, I’ve said before that I just adore the cover for One Insular Tahiti on your FB page and that it’s a thousand times better than the new one, so I won’t say it again.

    Actually, yes I will.

    Thea, I just adore the cover for One Insular Tahiti on your FB page and it’s a thousand times better than the new one!

    By pure coincidence we received the first option on the cover for our next book this morning. We have a designer in New Zealand, who also produced our cover for Sugar & Spice, and we are very happy to pay him to do more.

    Much better, I agree, to do your own IF you have the tech skills, as only the author knows the full message of the book. However, we’re both incompetent with such things, and just looking at your comments about ratios and fonts had me hiding under the table.

    Well done for being a great writer AND a great cover designer.

    But hey, did I mention that cover on Tahiti?

    And you just know I’m gonna say it again in my intro on your guest spot on my blog next month!🙂

    • theaatkinson says:

      LOL. thanks Mark. Actually, i’m reworking the first cover as I did like it more than the current one….just that it needs to be more genre specific. working on it! and thanks thanks so much for commenting and your cover on S&S is really stunning. You SHOULD stay with your designer. I just can’t afford one. grin

  10. YKG says:

    At first I was going to say I liked the second cover for SOTC best, but after reading the product description that could have just been my seeing the book in a genre not entirely it’s own. While I was there I went ahead and clicked all your tags for you as well.

    Either way the one thing I don’t like about both the first and third cover for SOTC is the white feather, it seems at complete odds with the “crow.”

    I do really like the new cover for “Formed of Clay” however, there’s another white feather… Is there a significance behind these feathers I’m missing? Either way I’m well aware I still have a lot to learn about creating cover designs, I’m relatively certain the design I bought for “The Uncertainty of Death” isn’t helping me at all and I fear I used the wrong Fonts on “Family Picnic” though I did it myself and overall like it much better than TUoD.

    • theaatkinson says:

      great comments, YTG. Actually, Formed of Clay and SLOC have nothing to do with each other. I did realize that 2 of my novels (and a possible third) have wings of some sort somewhere in the story. One good reason why a writer should know his/her themes. grin.

      the third cover does have a crow wing on it, just the light is odd so I might have to adjust that….IF I keep the feather on there. I was trying for a mix of the two covers…maybe not a good thing.

      Don’t you just love the possibilities of design? one can never make up the mind.

  11. Keisha says:

    The covers all look amazing , and pick me LOL

  12. Very informative, Thea. Thanks for sharing. I think your covers all look amazing!

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