The Evolution of a Novel Cover

Disclosure: I am a pharmacist, not an artist. I never expected to create a cover for LOVE, LIES & CLONES (or any novel) myself. Now, I can’t imagine passing up on all that fun! Honestly, creating the cover was one of the most enjoyable parts of publishing my novel.

I was looking back on my attempts at a novel cover and thought I’d share what I’ve learned since the first draft.

Since starting this novel in February, I’ve been through a TON of draft novel covers, before accepting my final version. I was set on making my own — mostly because I couldn’t even describe to a cover designer what to put on the cover.  My official cover isn’t perfect, but I’m happy with it.

I had read and listened to a lot of tips on making a cover. Here’s what stuck:

  1. Stick to your genre. Make sure your cover reflects what type of book you wrote. Look at other books into he genre and try to do something similar.
  2. Use contrasting colors – It attracts the reader. Teal and Orange, Yellow and Purple, etc. A color wheel can help with this.
  3. The fonts/writing should stand out on their own. No drop shadow and background adjustment needed.
  4. Use contrasting fonts. Serif vs non-serif, handwriting vs typed, etc.  (But not too many fonts to make it look busy)
  5. GET FEEDBACK! Besides asking my family, I made numerous Facebook, blog, Good reads, and twitter posts polling people to see what little tweak made the cover better.

2016-16-3--16-09-32

 

This was my first attempt at ever making a cover.  Ugh. Fail. I really had no idea what I was doing. I remember thinking here, “I wonder if there is an app that will write words on photos.” That’s how “green” I was. This one was from February/March of this year when I began writing the novel.

 

Clone CoverHere is my second attempt.  I took my daughter and dog out to be a model.  It turned out okay, but didn’t show the mystery/suspense.  I had no idea how to use any type of image manipulation software then. Now, I could have probably photo-shopped in a man with a motorcycle or a car or something up the road.

 

Love, Lies, & Clones Cover

 

I abandoned this one because I think the writing was hard to read. The tilted letters looked amateurish… along with the use of too many fonts. Now, I look at it and it’s not bad. I probably could have saved it. I did poll this on my blog at one point.

 

 

love-lies-clones-cover-2-2

 

Here, I still didn’t really understand what genre my novel fell in. I was trying for some DNA to show more sci-fi/medical. The background’s too dark and doesn’t really say anything about the novel.

 

LLC Cover - Final

 

 

My tagline phase. Looks like a headband.  Also, I still had color. The font is boring and I learned somewhere, that if you need to put a shading or shadow behind the font, you should keep trying.

 

llcfinalcover

 

 

Here I was trying to add in the setting – with the Madison, WI skyline.  I went black and white because it had seemed too busy — turns out I liked black and white. The gun barrel was just too much, but here’s where I realized I loved her blue eye. I’m starting to learn photo manipulation here.

 

llc-kindle-rj

 

And here is the final one. Black and White with words shadowing the face to show the genre.  (Mystery/Thriller with some romance/sci-fi). I tried to line the “L” of “Love” up with her eye as a leading line. I went with semi-contrasting colors (red/blue) and I had to learn to change the color of her shirt. The gun’s off-center so you’re not staring down the barrel — emphasizing her eye instead.

 

 

Here’s a fun graphic of the changes:

llc-covers-blog

Oh, and a bonus tip. It’s nice when all the covers from the same author look similar. That’s why I went red and blue on this novel. Here are the three novels I’m working on. Notice the similarities.

all-novel-covers

So, I know I could have a cover that’s 100 times better using a professional designer (or even purchasing a premade one), but there’s some pride in knowing you did everything yourself when publishing a book.

I have the novel on pre-order through Amazon for $0.99 if you’re interested. The price will go up when it’s released on Friday. Love, Lies & Clones on Amazon Otherwise, my offer always stands. Email me and I’ll send you a PDF of the novel for free.

Have you made your own cover? How did it turn out?

About Joynell Schultz

Writer & lover of all types of speculative fiction. I'm shivering in northern Wisconsin. Learn about my novels here: http://Author.to/JoynellSchultz
This entry was posted in Love, Lies, & Clones, Marketing, My Writing Journey, News!, Writing Tips & Resources and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to The Evolution of a Novel Cover

  1. This is a fabulous post! It is incredibly helpful to see the cover creation process. I’ll admit that I am artistically challenged, so I had to outsource the creation of my book cover, but yours works beautifully! (I’m especially attached to the cover for “The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives”.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic evolution! I have enjoyed watching it take form, not only is the cover Amazing, the content is even better!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Keigh Ahr says:

    I really enjoyed seeing the evolution of your cover design, and reading your running critique of each design. And the fact that you did it all pretty much on your own inspires me as I look ahead to publishing my own work.

    Like

  4. Pingback: DIY | The Diligent Dilettante

  5. fionamacbain says:

    Great and fascinating post. Your final cover is absolutely brilliant! I think the cover is so important. I had some ups and downs with mine but eventually found a fantastic designer which was a relief as I definitely don’t have the artistic or technical skills to do it myself. Good luck with the book!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. yeah, made some of my own covers, but don’t think they turned out as well as yours. looks like you used a lot of the techniques I learned about AFTER finishing mine. thinking I may need to redo a couple of them. where did you get the pic of the girl? was that free domain?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Really enjoyed your post. It’s funny how something like the aestetic of the book cover can be so easily overlooked yet it’s literally one of the most important parts to a novel. A reader will pick up your book solely on if the cover image catches their eye.

    Quick question. What do you use to design your covers? Specific standalone program or something on a website?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you liked the post! Yeah, that’s a good point. I agree that the book cover is the most important part for selling a novel — followed by the blurb. That’s pretty much it.

      I’m using http://www.canva.com to design my covers and I’m manipulating the photos using PicsArt Photo studio. I do everything on a tablet, so I’m limited by what’s available in an APP format. (Canva is online PicsArt is an app.) I have a ton of other apps downloaded, but I always end up using these two… pretty much exclusively. Both are Free.

      Like

  8. K E Garland says:

    That’s impressive! After writing a book, I had little energy to actually create my own cover. I provided a graphic artist with my concept and then gave her yeas and nays as she produced lol Great Job on this!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Lana says:

    Ooh, this post is awesome! Personally, I like your second-to-last cover the best, but your last cover is great as well. I love that all of your novels have similar covers as well! That’s really cool.

    I haven’t made very many covers for myself, but I have made several covers for other people, so I do have some experience in cover making, should I need to make myself my own cover. (I still haven’t decided whether to go the traditional or self-published route yet.)

    Your covers look great! 😀 Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. J.R. Handley says:

    Cover looks amazing!! Bought the book, not sure when I’ll have time to read it though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ruhenhoque says:

    Hi
    Really nice progression of your covers, you must have learned a lot when creating it.
    Sometimes it is nice to be more involved with your work beyond just writing the story, I am happy you were able to make one that you liked.
    All the best.
    Ru

    Liked by 1 person

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