Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Your Cover Art Form and Your Cover Artist

About a year ago I wrote a post about your cover art.  Since to date, it's one of the most viewed posts I've written, I figured I'd go ahead and update it and go over this topic again.  I've done considerably more covers and worked with a lot more authors than I had when I'd written that article.  I've cried, I've rejoiced, but more importantly, I've learned.  I'm here to share some of this with you so you, the new writer, can understand the process a little better and hopefully save yourself some frustration.

So, you've either been offered a contract (yay!) or you've decided to self-publish (yay!), either way, you're going to be working with an artist.  Some presses don't allow you to work directly with the artist, but you'll still be able to hopefully comment on your work and offer a little input should the result not be to your expectations.  Please (I seriously beg you) understand, the artists doesn't always get it right on the first try, and maybe not even the second either.  That being said however, we aren't miracle workers.  We're limited by what we're able to see as a cover based on your form and what the stock companies have for photographs.  This means, if you have a specific image in mind, like a snapshot, chances are a photographer has NOT taken that picture.  *grin*  You're going to have to trust us to give you the next best thing.  Be patient with the process, and know your artist IS doing their very best.

Your form, or the information the artist asks for, is very important.  Be as specific as possible here.  Photographs and covers you've fallen in love with in the past DO help.  They show the style you prefer.  From dark and gothic, to clean and romantic, style is everything.  Don't expect a clone of that cover, then it wouldn't be yours, but showing the artist what your preferences are will help guide them on what to do and not do, to create a final product.  For example, I'm a color diva, anyone who follows my work knows I adore color.  I also adore textures, which gives most covers a grungy, artistic feel.  Some authors really prefer clean lines, without any texture or massive amounts of color.  While not impossible for me to achieve, it does force me to move outside of my comfort zone and create something different from my personal style. I need to know this before I design your cover or you won't like what lands in your inbox.

Make sure when filling out your form, you let the artist know what's really important to you concerning the cover.  Should there be a wolf?  A tiger?  A necklace of some kind?  Maybe a key?  An element to your story that's vital that you want conveyed in some manner.  Also be sure to say what you DON'T want.  I love it when my authors say "Please, nothing bright or happy" or even "I know this is a haunted house story, but I don't want a haunted house, I want it to focus more on the couple and the tension".  This tells me so much about what feeling you want your cover to portray.  So don't be afraid to tell your artist your dislikes too.

If you give your artist free reign, expect to see their signature style when you receive your cover.  If you're self-publishing, I hope you've researched artists and like what you've seen, so when the cover arrives for you to check out, you're immediately happy with it.  If you're publishing with a press, research their artists, and request to work with the one you love the most.  Each artist is unique.  I can tell covers by the artist almost instantly now, they have a signature way they do things.  Sometimes I'm surprised, but usually, the ones I follow, when I see a cover at a press, I know it's theirs.

There are so many talented artists out there, you're SURE to find one that fits not only the vision of what you want in a cover, but your budget as well.  If you're being published with a publisher, pay close attention to their covers and really ask yourself, are those the type of covers I want on my book?  Books ARE judged by their covers, and choosing a publisher is a decision that should not be taken lightly.  You want to market your book and show off your cover, not hide it under the bed.  So be choosy, you should be when it comes to your hard work.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.  Haven't seen my work yet?  Go check it out at For the Muse Design.

Elaina

16 comments:

  1. Great tips...thank you. It's always hard to relay what you want in a cover but all your suggestions truly are a huge help.

    Thanks!

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    1. Thank you for reading, Christine! I'm glad it helped. :-)

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  2. Haha, Elaina you must have cringed when you got my email. I am so not specific. I consider myself either an artists dream or nightmare client. Sometimes I don't know what I want for a cover until I have a jumping off point you know? But the advice about referencing covers you really like is a great suggestion. One I will keep in mind the next time I ask you for a cover. ;)

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    1. No, I asked you when I had questions and you answered! That works too. *wink*

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  3. Excellent post, Elaina! I've always enjoyed working with you to get the best possible result. :-D

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    1. Thank you, Meg! I enjoyed working with you too. :-))

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  4. On my third book with my publisher the cover was completely wrong - I wrong a polite email saying I didn't think it suited the story and they changed it.
    Keeping true to your story but aware of the artists feelings is important.

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    1. Yes, sometimes a cover is completely wrong, I've been there too! It's important for the author to speak up, yes in a nice manner is best, LOL! But to say something all the same. What we see and what you see are sometimes completely different, communication is vital! Thank you, Daryl. :-)

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  5. Great post, Elaina! You do lovely work. But it's always good to be reminded that cover artists are human and can't read minds--or see the images in them!

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    1. Thank you, Lisa! I'm so used to authors working with me it comes as a huge shock when one decides NOT to. :-) We are human and we do make mistakes, but in the end it's the authors cover and their decision. Regardless of who the artist is, YOU deserve an awesome cover. :-)

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  6. I *always* check out the covers when I'm thinking about a publisher! LOL. You've given me some things to keep in mind next time I fill out a cover request. Oh, the POWER you hold! ;c)

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    1. LOL! Well ALL your covers rock, so you're doing something right! :-D

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    2. But of course! Almost half of them are Elaina Lee originals. ;c)

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    3. Yeah, well, I bow in the shadow of Fiona Jade, LOL! Her work always makes me sigh in appreciation. :-)

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  7. A great post Elaina - I hope to have you design a cover for ME one day. They truly are works of art! Just gorgeous!

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