You know the old cliche about not judging a book by it's cover. Well that was obviously not written by the person who came up with "you never get a second chance to make a first impression." That's exactly what a book cover has to do; make an impression that will either make the reader pick it up or, at the very least, take a second look.
I love cover creation. Not bragging or saying I've made the best (yet :) but, I truly do enjoy it. For several years I created customized specialty greeting cards through my Awesome Messages company so I have a bit of graphics design experience. Again not wanting to toot my own horn but the cards were really awesome! I painstakingly designed around each and every photo that was sent to me....very time consuming and not overly profitable. Still, I enjoyed it and it showed through in my work. I actually still do cards on a request basis. In fact, my friend Bridgette - nominated for teacher of the year at Madison Middle School here in Bartlesville, OK and well deserving of the title - emailed last night and said she needs new cards. "We" usually design around photos of her three awesome dogs. She gives me free rein and gets back cards that are uniquely hers.
Anyway, the card creation has helped me greatly in book cover designing. While Pat did a wonderful job of creating the cover for our Time Out On A Roller Coaster book, I have designed the covers for the rest of my books as well as all the books published through my TreasureLine Books Publishing company; a part of http://www.onestoppublisher.com/. I use an old graphics program, the same one I used for my cards, called PictureIt. Some of you may know it. It's an old Microsoft program that I have no idea why they did away with except that PhotoShop came on the scene. I have PhotoShop too but have yet to learn to use it much. Not exactly true. I use it as a pdf converter! Kind of expensive for that but we do what we must, right?! :) I'll learn to use it...eventually.
It's no secret that I self-publish using Amazon.com's CreateSpace. I have no complaints thus far about using CreateSpace. They're reasonably priced, quick, give a direct line into the Amazon.com sales channels and they have templates and modules to help you along the way. They'll even do it all for you....for a hefty price, but if you're a do-it-yourselfer or can find someone like me who can and is willing to help you or hire out at an affordable price to do it for you, then you can be on your way to a hold-in-your-hand book in a snap. It's exciting to hold that first book in your hand though I have to say, just like children, you don't love the ones that come after any less. You'll find yourself looking it over, caressing the cover as you proudly display it before friends.....
Ah yes, back to the all-important cover..... I don't want to discuss what makes a cover stand out as much as I do the actual creation of a book cover. What makes a person take a second glance is most likely personal preference. I might look at a book and love the cover and it do nothing for you. All authors would love to have their books catch the eye of everyone that walks by. Most likely, that's not going to happen. I spend a lot of time going to websites and looking at covers trying to determine what I like; what would make me pick it up if I could. My friend, author Melinda Richarz Lyons, recently published a young readers fiction novel through my TreasureLine Publishing (then AM Publishing) titled Murder at the Oaklands Mansion. I created a couple of different covers for her, fell in love with a wrap around cover I did and she chose a different one! That's okay. Ultimately, the author is the main marketer of his/her own book and has to be comfortable with it. You can see both of those covers on the Cover Creations page of my One Stop Publisher website. She chose the basic layout. I loved the blended cover at the bottom.
CreateSpace allows you to download a template for the cover. You can create your own from scratch as well and they will give you the dimensions. Don't get confused here, the template also allows you to completely create your own design. It merely provides you with guidelines such as where the front and back cover meet the spine, bleed area, etc. They also offer free cover designs but I found them extremely limiting and frustrating. If you've used them and liked them, I'd love to know!
CreateSpace allows for users to download their cover templates in a couple of different formats. I use the png because that is what my graphics program accepts and I am comfortable with it. Once you download, the designing begins. My latest book release is a collection of faith-based short stories exploring pivotal times and journeys in our lives called Becoming... (now available on my website at reduced Birthday savings until February 9th, btw!). The cover for Becoming... is a simple pink rose against a brown rock background. Simple is an understatement because that cover has 19 levels! That means there are 19 pieces that make up the cover of that book and each one has to be placed and worked in.
The cover of my first children's book titled How Sadie Learned To SMILE, illustrated by friend and awesome artist Christina Janzen, has 18 levels. I consider it a Basic Cover as opposed to the more intricate Blended covers though, as you can see, it still has lots of pieces. The cover for A Marriage of Necessity has 12 levels. I'll try to post some of those covers though you won't be able to see all the levels, just the finished products.
I'm sure there are a lot of different ways to create a book cover and I KNOW there are tons of businesses out there willing to create them for you (most charge an arm and a leg that you may or may not make up through the sales of your book). Most importantly though, it all boils down to creating or having a cover created that you'll be proud to hold up before people and say "this is my baby" and that you are comfortable with. That goes for all covers because books truly are judged by their covers though it's good to remember all eyes won't look at that cover exactly the same.
Now let's see if I can get some of those cover samples on here....the front covers, at least.