So you’ve heard it all before. Book covers are important. The steps to make an effective book cover. How to use book covers to market your book.
Oh, maybe you haven’t?
I’ll touch on those topics in later posts, but I want to start off this blog with something more personal as a designer.
One day I woke up thinking to myself, “I design book covers for a living.” I shook my head, laughed, then thought, “that’s ridiculous.” It was only after waking up from my morning stupor when I realized that I hadn’t been dreaming. I actually did design book covers for a living. Every time I think about how lucky I am, I remember that one incident.
1. Book covers are more than just graphic design
What is graphic design anyway?
The term is being used everywhere, and one of my peeves is when people think graphic design equates to being able to use photoshop. It’s not. Graphic design is the effective combination of visual elements to create a message or mood. Photoshop is simply a tool for that.
And to be honest, graphic design can be a little boring, to me at least. On a corporate level, it can be get pretty dry and technical. It starts to become all about branding (which applies to book covers, too, but in a less arid way.
Compare these two images, which one looks more fun to spend hours on?
A book cover is just a rectangular image (at least the front cover), but so much thought and different skillsets are needed to make an effective one. I’m always wondering about what is the next skill I should add to my toolbox. Calligraphy, painting, drawing, more photomanipulation techniques? It always feels like the possibilities for exploration are endless, which makes that single rectangular image so intriguing.
Amongst all forms of graphic design, I think that book covers are the closest to breaching the gap between art and graphic design.
2. I get to change lives, even just a teensy bit.
If you’ve ever ordered a cover from me, then be warned… I might be stalking you on Amazon.
I always like to check the Amazon rankings of books which I’ve designed for, and if I see a low number, it pretty much makes my day.
I’ve had authors tell me that they get to quit their day job because of writing, and that makes my profession so fulfilling. It’s just putting images on a canvas, what good could that do the world? But when I get the feeling that it helps people (even though their rankings might not be reflective of my design), it makes me feel like I’m doing my part.
Sure, that author might’ve gone to another designer. There’s no shortage of us out there. Which is why I say, “a teensy bit.”
That’s why I always try to make sure the covers look good and have trouble raising my prices. I think that every author deserves a nice design for their cover. They’ve spent days or even years writing their book, after all.
3. I have to represent an entire story in a 2×3 image.
And it’s tough. Some days I just want to rip my hair out and scream at the sea. But it’s also imaginative. There are so many ways to present a whole book. Whenever I look at a particularly interesting brief, I become really excited. When possibilities are screaming out in my head, it’s fulfilling to be able to put them on a canvas.
That’s the thing about creative people. When they don’t create, they might get destructive. I remember destroying a ton of t-shirts and shorts when I was younger just to get that creative energy out of me.
Having to do so much with so little forces you to be creative. And that’s just the outlet I need. When that image comes out good, the satisfaction is unlike any other. When I first started and wasn’t so busy, I could spend an entire hour just starting at the cover thinking about how much I liked it. Egotistical much? Sure. But we all have our quirks.
4. A huge part of my work is simply to look at pretty pictures.
One of my crazy aunts told me dentists have short lives, because they have to look at ugly things every day. I’m pretty sure she was lying to sound smart, but there are some truths to that.
A huge part of my job is to do research. With a better image library, I can churn out better things. I get to scroll through pages and pages of book covers, or even other forms or art and design and call them inspiration.
Who wouldn’t want to do that for work on daily basis?
I’m going to live a long life.
5. Well, it’s just fun!
Ultimately, I think it’s because I found myself in a really nice position. Some people wouldn’t be able to design anything even a knife to their throat. My friend told me Photoshop made her cry, literally. I’m lucky to be able to do this. I’m always reminded about how lucky I am to do this for a living.