Creating Covers Part 2: Popping Artwork


After you have come up with the perfect title for your new novel, you are going to need to do some brainstorming to come up with a perfectly popping and polished cover art for the work.

Just like with a title, there really is no right or wrong.  However, there are a few guidelines that you may want to keep in mind as you think of what your book cover should look like.

1.  Simple verses complex.  For the most part, a simple cover design looks good and professional.  However, just like with the title, you want cover art that reaches out and draws your reader in before he/she ever picks up the book.  Remember, your job as a writer isn’t just about getting them to turn the pages of your novel; you also have to get them to pick the novel up off the shelf in the first place.

An overly simple book cover may not catch the reader’s eye enough to make them want to pick the book up.  Picking cover art that is too busy, however, can overwhelm the reader as well, turning them off from wanting to even find out what is between the cover pages.

2.  Direct or indirect.  Another thing to keep in mind is whether or not you want your book cover to portray something directly from your storyline, such as a recreation of a fight scene or lovers’ embrace, or if you want it to be something indirectly related to the storyline.  Take, for instance, the apple holding hands of the book Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.  While I cannot tell you what, exactly, Stephanie Meyer was trying to portray with that particular artwork, I can tell you what I got out of it as a reader.  I took the apple as a representation of the temptation that Bella posed to Edward.  As an author who is creating cover art, you must decide if you wish to represent something tangible from the storyline or if it will be more of an abstract representation.

For myself, when I created the cover art for the novel Vindictus, The Dark Lord, I wanted something that represented the magical element that was used throughout the storyline.  There were a few references to a ceremonial dagger being used, so I wanted to create something that gave the feel of a magical altar.  I created the art work out of things that I had sitting around my house.  All in all, I was very pleased with the cover art.

Use indirect representations cautiously.  After reading the novel, the reader should be able to look at the indirectly representative cover art and think, “Ah!  NOW I get it!”  However, if you use some trivial notion or idea, or even an inside joke, for the cover art, the readers may not “get it” even after reading the novel.  Unless you intend to make such things a trend for your novels, your readers may soon forget your tongue-in-cheek cover as well as the novel that it misrepresented.

3.  Medium.  With today’s technology, it is easier than ever to create a top-notch cover art for your novel.  The sky is the limit.  But before you start reaching for the stars, you will need to decide what type of medium you will use to create your cover art.  Will you use a hand-drawn image, a photo, a painting, a computer generated image?  You may even discover yourself using more than one type of medium.

When I created the cover art for my last novel, I created the scene using digital photography.  However, I used photo editing software to create the borders around the photograph. 

4.  Color or black and white.  While everything is done primarily in color these days, with the advancements in technology, authors always have the option of creating cover art that is in black and white or even a combination of color and black and white.

In the end, there are only a few basic rules to remember when it comes to creating cover art for your novel.  Your primary objective is to create art work that is so eye-catching that your readers are drawn in even before they pick up the book.  Add to that popping piece of art work a fabulous title, and you will have won the first battle as an author:  getting someone to notice your book and intrigue them enough to make them want to find out more about the storyline contained within the confines of that all-important cover.

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