#DesignAMA: What is involved in the process of designing and developing a book cover?

I had an interesting question over on my #DesignAMA today. It is a lengthy response, however I believe it is something of value. That is why I decided to share it here on my blog for you all. Remember my #DesignAMA goes live August 28, and if you have any questions submit them here. Enjoy ūüôā

What is involved in the process of designing and developing a book cover? How long does it take on average?

There are two types of covers when you look at the process of designing a cover. The first process is the most common, and that is the photo manipulated covers. The second process is the illustrated cover drawn from hand. Time varies between the two big. I will do a breakdown of the two to let you be more informed.

Photo-Manipulated Covers:

  • The first step for a designer is to find out the author’s direction for the cover.
  • Second step is to find the images that will make up the background, textures and concept. This can take from an hour to days. This has ranged from 4 to 8 hours for myself, it depends on what the author is looking for.
  • Next is taking your images into your software, I use Photoshop. During this step you will create layers, adjustments and cut images to set them onto each other. The time this can range from one hour to several, it depends on how many images you are using.
  • The biggest step to making the cover look good is blending. This can range from erasing, painting or adding special features to blend all layers together.¬† You can expect this to take several hours, again depends on how many images that need blending.
  • Once the image is complete, then comes the wonderful step of adding your text. This is your title, sub-title, slogan, author name and any other text you wish to add. Pay attention to the fonts that appear within your genre before deciding which font to use. Deciding on a font can take hours, however make sure it is a font for commercial use. Read the licensing information even if it says it’s a FREE font.
  • The final step to take before you show off your cover is two things. One take a day away from the cover, come back to it and look it over for any changes you see that need corrected.¬†Second,¬†ask a few individuals you trust for their honest opinion. Word of advice, seek individuals that have an eye for detail. If you missed any issues, they will point them out or give suggestions to improve your cover.

Overall, this cover shouldn’t take longer than two weeks. This time is only an estimate many designers can do it under two weeks. However, I like to have too much time to work within than not enough. If you don’t give your designer enough time to work, then you are jeopardizing the overall quality of your cover you present.

Illustrated Covers:

  • The first step of any illustrated cover is to come up with three thumbnail concepts. This allows the author three directions they could go with their cover.
  • The draft process is the next step after you complete your concept direction. This can range from three to five plus drafts that the designer provides to the author. Drafts are all done in pencil once completed on paper then comes the next step.
  • The designer will now transfer their hand-drawn sketch¬†over to their computer. Most common softwares used is Illustrator or Photoshop. The journey of creating the digital art is a lengthy process. Overall, transferring just a pencil outline will take about a day or less.
  • The next step is painting the image. This is a lengthy process that will take weeks. How it works in Photoshop is that each item you paint has its own layer. Another option is to create each item in their own source file then link to it in a final file. Doing the link option helps keep the project from overloading the software and slowing it down.
  • The designer has finished painting the image, now comes the clean up process. This step varies in length since it entails erasing, blending an adding shading to the layers to make them one consistent image. Expect this step to be close to a day worth of¬†work it can be longer.
  • Now comes adding¬†your title and other text information you wish to include. This will take only minutes to put the text on the cover and create a layout, however as stated above finding the font can range from minutes to hours of searching.
  • The title and text is on your cover now and comes a crucial step. The designer has to make sure the text blends with the image. I am not saying it dissolves into the image itself, what I’m saying is that it looks like it belongs on your cover. Picking a color for the text or by adding an overlay to flatten the text to the image can solve this problem.
  • Now you have what looks like a final cover. Again step back, ask for a few individuals feedback and see if any changes need made. If you see none¬†then you have a finished cover. Overall, the length of an illustrated cover can range from two to six months. It depends on the designer and the experience they have, another big deciding point on time is communication. If an author refuses to communicate with the designer, then that lengthens the process.

A big side note to remember readers will judge your book by its cover, which is why you need to settle for nothing but high quality. Do to budget or lack of one can ruin this for some authors. That is why I tailored my design business to provide several money saving options to all authors. I offer giveaways, discounts, sales and money saving opportunities, along with payment plans that will fit anyone’s budget. If you’re an author that is struggling to put together the funds for making your book just drop us a message, we will make it happen.

#DesignAMA: How do you promote your business?

It has been a minute since my last blog post. I have an interesting question to share with you I received from an individual over on my #DesignAMA event page. In, the process of writing this response I came up with two ideas I plan to implement here in a few weeks once I create advertising graphics for them. I would appreciate your input on this response and the new discount opportunities.

How do you promote your business? What methods have you found that effectively spread the word about your services? 

I have done different promoting for my design business that are showing merits. The main one is using social media on different platforms to find the authors that would need my services. The big one I have done was joining groups where I showcase premade covers, recent designs and groups for writing. Due to being an author myself a big thing that helps is promoting myself as an author and creating connections that way leads to others trusting me. This then lets them feel comfortable approaching me to inquire about services.

Word of mouth is big that has helped bring in new clients. I have several authors that have been with me or featured me on their blogs. I have done interviews, guest posts and cover reveals that created content for them or myself. Then in agreement they would create a button on their website to promote my design business. If they used my service, they would then display the logo of my business as a recommendation for visitors to view.

I haven’t tried using Facebook, Google or any other ad services as of right now. I am a mother of twins and have a tight budget. This means I am trying several free options to see which works best before I do the paid option.

My main thing is to grow slow that way I can make sure I provide quality to my clients. The reason is that I want to make sure not to overload myself as things take off.

Things I have done: Facebook Group Giveaways, Public Giveaways, Premade Cover Sales, Custom Cover Sales and I offer custom cover discounts for Facebook group members and bulk services.

Ideas I plan to offer soon:

  • Client Referral Service – A prior client refers a new client and will receive a bonus of either a FREE promotional package/individual service or 40% discount on their next custom cover order.
  • Promoting Benefit – A client whether new or old, creates 3+ promotional posts on any platform to receive a 10% discount for spreading word about my company. This can be a mix of one post being shared over multiple platforms,¬†(example – Author posts on a blog, then shares it over twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any others. I will accept this as over 3 shares and will be eligible for the 10% discount). They can only use this discount with each individual invoice that’s¬†created, within a monthly period.

Hope this gives you some ideas, the main thing is to have fun with it and to think of ways to benefit the audience that wants to use your services but can’t afford it. I always work to think of ways to bring my services to everyone no matter the price point. Remember, if you hate the promoting side of your business it will be something you will avoid.

My #DesignAMA goes live August 28, 2018. If you have a question related to my topic of interest (The Art of Designing and Writing – A Cover Designer/Artist and Indie Author’s Journey AMA), ask it here.

My question to you: What do you look for in a advertisement that makes you want to use that companies services?

#AuthorAMA: Different ways to enter the Writing Industry

K.M. Jenkins

Yesterday I shared a post from my design blog, KJ Magical Designs, that showcased a question from a #DesignAMA I am taking part in. However, I am not only taking questions on design but also on writing too. I had an interesting one I thought I would source here on my blog.

For a first time author- how many pages would you say is a good start to get published? In the genre of suspense/romance fiction? 

It ranges in each genre and by the audience you are trying to target. Ask yourself if you plan to self-publish, if you will market to an agent or hope to get picked up by a publisher. I did digging into this and found a good infographic on one of my favorite sites (Writer’s Digest). This is a good resource to help you learn the ins and outs of the industry…

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#AMA: Do you have any tips on how to choose the right designer for your book cover?

Pay attention to the designers technique. Use there portfolio to study their style. If you don’t think they will accomplish what your looking for in a cover,¬†it is best to keep looking. The biggest pitfall is choosing a designer that doesn’t fit your style of writing (Example: having a scifi cover designer do a romance cover). If they have a broad range that is great.

Look at their experience, but don’t let it define your final choice. Newbies can be a great investment. My first clients were authors I befriended through groups and they tried me out when I was¬†a beginner. The nice thing about newbies is they will push themselves to the limit to prove they can provide you with the cover you desire. I had this experience with Allison D. Reid and she has been with me ever since.

Research is key, check out reviews on the designer. If they don’t have reviews by prior authors, this is where the portfolio comes in handy. Google the authors they¬†worked with, find out their thoughts and option. Get an idea of their work¬†flow if they are reliable or have good communication skills.

Ask questions. A big thing I like to do is¬†chat sessions with authors. I want a feel of what direction they are going towards. This way I know if I fit the authors style. If the designer isn’t willing to chat, perhaps it is best to keep looking. This can be a sign of communication issues, or¬†the designer being too busy.

**A designer that ask lots of questions is a sign they are committed to giving you their best.

What is AMA?

Ask Me Anything. I put up a live hosting page that goes live August 28th, at 10pm CST. People from all over the world ask me questions on my chosen topic. My first AMA topic:¬†The Art of Designing and Writing – A Cover Designer/Artist and Indie Author’s Journey¬†Let’s say it is a new twist to an interview, but where you get to ask the questions.

How does it work?

Right now you are able to submit questions till the deadline, August 28th. The answers to questions don’t go live till 10pm CST that day. However, I do get to answer questions before the day, so if I see a question that will benefit you all. I will be creating a blog post here for you all to reference and enjoy.

If you would like to ask questions submit them here.