Justine: (Is It?) All About the Book Cover, part II

His Lady Protect Sml-1

My original book cover.

Two weeks ago, I announced that I was redoing the book cover for the first book in my series because it did not “spark joy.” (Thank you, Marie Kondo!)

Well, my new designer, who will still remain nameless (until we have the final cover completed), has given me a first draft, if you will, and I’m already in love.

Before she began any work, she asked me a bunch of questions about what I’m looking for, including:

  • Genre
  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Author name/co-author (if any)
  • Blurb/summary/back cover copy
  • Release date
  • Links to covers I like
  • Things I know I don’t like
  • Is the book part of a series?

Because we were changing up an existing cover, my designer wanted more information about what I didn’t like. So I sent her this:

What I don’t like about my current cover it the lack of color. In a lot of the covers I see these days (and like…no, love), there are great jewel tones, but they consume most of the cover, or a large part of it, or multiple parts of it, not just the little accents (like the bow on her dress, or the text). I’d love it if her dress were more sweeping, flowing, blending into the background. 
I actually just blogged about this. You can see in the tiled images how some of the dresses sort of “mist” into the background. All of those covers are absolutely delicious to me because of their style, their color, the fact that they don’t have lots of extra garbage on them, like curlycues or scroll things.
Other things… I’m not thrilled with my series logo, either the font or the scroll thing underneath. I want something somewhat masculine, because this is a series about 6 male friends, and I want to carry this series logo/brand everywhere (website, adverts, etc.)
I have a color theme for all the books:
  • Book 1 — Maroon (although this can change, as can some of the others)
  • Book 2 — Yellow (can change)
  • Book 3 — Navy blue (can’t change — it’s about a Navy man)
  • Book 4 — Kelly green (can’t change — hero has red hair)
  • Book 5 — Purple (can change)
  • Book 6 — White/silver (can change)

I will be doing print versions as well, so want to be thoughtful about what shows up on the spine/back.

I will tell you that my designer doesn’t have a lot of experience doing historical covers. Most of what she does are cozy mysteries and paranormal. But she loves the old covers from the mid-80s to 90s, I’ve seen her work on my friends’ covers (AMAZING), and I know she’s trying to break into the historical world, so I decided to give her a try, and I’m glad I did.

These are the three mock-ups she designed:

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 8.15.20 PM

I told her right off the bat that I loved the gilded gold of the text…the white text was definitely out.

I also liked the cover that had the couple zoomed out a bit…the text was more over the background, rather than over the back of her dress, which made it a bit easier to read.

The first cover drew me in because the couple is softened a bit. If you’ll recall from my last post, I really like covers that look painted à la Gainsborough or John Singer Sargent. I think she achieved that there.

So what did I think was lacking?

  • I asked her to try to get the dress to look fuller at the bottom
  • I would love some swirls added to my name, so it’s not so boxy
  • I need room for a tagline
  • I want to add the Beggars Club logo (which she is also working on) for brand recognition and also to denote which book in the series this is

She has since given me a second mock-up, but I’m going to wait on showing that to you until we complete the final design. She’s currently working on what I hope are the final tweaks to my cover, so I should have an exclusive cover reveal in the next few weeks!

As an aside, and for those of you who are embarking on your cover design adventure, there’s a good piece of advice my designer gave me that you should heed…if you have the choice between two similar images, but one is zoomed out, showing the entire person(s), PICK THAT IMAGE. Because my original image had the hero’s head cropped, there was very little my designer could do in terms of moving the couple around on the cover. It’s a lot easier to do that when one of the subjects isn’t missing half his head. 🙂  Just tuck that little nugget of wisdom into your brain for when you’re picking original artwork for your cover.

What feedback do you have on the covers? Likes/dislikes? Does it make you want to pick up the book?

7 thoughts on “Justine: (Is It?) All About the Book Cover, part II

  1. Thanks for an interesting blog post about the thought and work process surrounding how a cover is designed. It looks very good and it will be interesting to see the end result.

    I think you are right about your name, it may need a little more swirls. But I wonder about the dots inside the “O”. Are they really necessary? For me, they just seem confusing. Like “Where do these little decorations belong?”

    • I’m glad this is useful (or at least interesting). 🙂

      Regarding the dots, they don’t bother me so much, and with the new iteration that she did (which I haven’t revealed yet, but has swirls in my name), I think they look okay. That will be my next post, in 2 weeks!

  2. Got a quick question — did you do the convert-to-grayscale thing? At thumbnail size, the “to” gets lost on the dress, but is still quite readable when it’s on the red background.

    Very nice 80s vibe indeed! I didn’t recognize it until you mentioned it — the lush curtains in the background, etc. Reminded me of my mom’s bookcase! But the photography is nicely up-to-date.

    I suppose the next cover will be quite different, having to fit in the Beggar’s Club logo.

    • Michaeline, you make an excellent point about the grayscale. I put my final cover (which is done…you’ll see on Sunday) into Vellum and exported the .mobi file to my Kindle so I could see what the actual cover will look like on a B&W device…it looks fine. I’ll actually include a pic of the Kindle Paperwhite version in my post on Sunday so readers can see what the cover color looks like on a grayscale device.

      You’ll see what I did, too, regarding the logo (there is none!). It didn’t seem to fit, and I’ll explain why in my post. 🙂

      I can say this, though…there’s definitely some Marie Kondo “spark joy” that I feel when I look at my final cover!

  3. Pingback: Justine: (Is It?) All About the Book Cover, part III – The Reveal! – Eight Ladies Writing

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