Firstly, I just need to say it is a real thrill to have Fiona blogging here today. I love her work. Her covers are always so awesome and yummy and. . . well, they're fab. The lovely Fiona has actually done 5 of my book covers; She-Wolf, The Collector, Cranberry Blood, Stepping Stones and On the Rocks, and I have loved every single one of them.
Anyway, enough of me being all fan girl. Fiona has stopped by to tell us her top 5 tips to an author filling out their cover art sheet. So, take it away Fiona . . .
Five tips to filling out your cover art sheet – and helping your artist make your cover awesome!
I’ve seen a lot of authors dread filling out their cover art forms – another chore to check off the to do list. A “must do” chore since your book cover is what will catch a reader’s eye and lead them down the path of – read the blurb, read the expert and finally – hopefully – buy the book. I hope the below tips will help in distilling the essentials of your story into visual images your cover artist can then use to create a cover of your dreams.
Don’t cause a scene: Or rather, don’t worry about an important scene in your book. The important scene is too big to distill into a single image! Instead, think of what is marketable about your book – what are the hooks? What will you tag your book on Amazon? Is your story about vampires, angels, male male romance, a walk on Mars? What is the biggest marketing hook? This is what needs to be on the cover – and what you need to communicate to your artist.
Hair and some air: I’ve seen a lot of authors fill out detailed descriptions of their characters – and while we artists absolutely need those descriptions, in many ways, minute details are unnecessary. We don’t need to know that your heroine is strawberry blonde vs pale blonde, or that your hero has stubble. Unless the hair color is extremely important to the book (the first example that comes to mind is Angel’s Blood, where the heroine’s silver blond hair is very much an identifying feature and is mentioned in the black moment of the book), such level of detail really isn’t necessary. Think more of a police report than a dating site – 5”2, brown and brown. Just the facts, ma’am.
Four out of five dentists: Smiling people aren’t really marketable on book covers. Even if you write a romantic comedy, there’s still conflict in your book right? A smiling character shows no conflict – their conflict is already resolved! Such a characters arouses no questions in the reader’s mind. (Granted – there are different smiles! A devilish smile may make all the difference in the world!)
I’ve shown this cover to friends and family and my neighbors daughter’s boyfriend’s nephew thinks that… I’m exaggerating, but only a little. You, the author, know your story and your readers best. Unless your family and friends have a good idea of your genre, your audience and marketability of your book, take their suggestions and distill them to marketing nuggets. Design by committee leads to Jar Jar Binks – or Picard and Kirk cooking eggs together.
Get a second opinion: Ah, a direct 180 from the previous point right? Here’s the caveat – get a second opinion from another cover artist or the art direction in your publishing house. Cover artists love to talk theory and marketing how it all translates into a precious one inch thumbnail on Amazon – so if you aren’t sure about a cover – or unsure of what it is that seems “wrong” about it, it can’t hurt to ask someone else in the business. They may be able to point out the exact thing your gut is telling you but your analytical mind doesn’t quite know how to put into words.
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Fiona Jayde is a space pilot, a ninth degree black belt in three styles of martial arts, a computer hacker, a mountain climber, a jazz singer, a weight lifter, a superspy with a talent for languages, and an evil genius. All in her own head.
Find Fiona’s works at her website at http://fionajaydemedia.com/