Tag Archives: cover design

From Blank Slate to Cool Cover


How to find the right cover designer for your novel
by Nicole Eva Fraser

I’m not usually a procrastinator—but I delayed getting a cover design for my novel I Don’t Think It’s
That Simple till after I’d polished and proofed the manuscript and prepped it for e-Book formatting. Why? Because Cali MacKay, who designed the cover for my first novel, The Hardest Thing in This World, was no longer working in the profession, and I was going to have to start my designer search from scratch! Finally, when I couldn’t procrastinate any longer, I dove back into the process.

First Steps
I wrote the cover blurb for I Don’t Think It’s That Simple. After that, I jotted down a list of key ideas and
their visual translations. This gave me starting points to share with my new designer…whoever she
or he might turn out to be.

Here’s My Cover Blurb:
Do you think Evan Leighton is a stalker—or a good guy looking for love in all the wrong places?
And how about Julia Atwater—is she an innocent flirt or a shameless manipulator? The one sure
thing is that they both love Julia’s teenage son Hunter—then a surreal accident changes the course
of all their futures. Evan and Julia may touch your heart, they may frustrate or infuriate you, but you’re
guaranteed to recognize someone you care about—even yourself—in their story.

My List of Key Ideas Boiled Down To:

  • loneliness
  • love (romantic love and love for a child)
  • the solace of nature, especially the Indiana Dunes on Lake Michigan
  • basketball

My Very Basic Visual Translations Included:

  • a man or woman walking alone on a beach, seen from behind to keep the figure universal
  • maybe an inset silhouette of a young man playing basketball
  • maybe an inset of a man and boy, suggesting a father and son relationship

I sketched the visuals into a rough cover and added the title and my name in the layout.

Next Steps
I decided to search for existing book covers whose color palettes, layouts, specific images, or
overall feel resonated for me. I searched Google Images for contemporary fiction and contemporary
romance covers, eventually finding some I connected with
Then I began searching for cover designers whose portfolios resonated for me and whose services
fit my budget. Book Cover Designers (list at, Book Cover Artists & Illustrators
(Goodreads forum), and Affordable Book Cover Designers (list at provided
great leads. Eventually I switched to a basic Google search, “book cover designers,” and found
Fiona Jayde Media. Her site and portfolio captured my interest and I felt she could be The One.

Working With the Designer
I queried Fiona, attaching my rough sketch and notes. She sent me a personal reply, attaching her
questionnaire for potential clients, including questions about the mood of the novel, main character
profiles, and emotional keywords, and she requested links to the fonts and other visuals I’d been

After reviewing my answers, Fiona sent me her ideas. She said my idea of a woman walking alone
on a beach, seen from behind, was a strong central image; and that an inset silhouette of a
basketball player would be too busy, but she could incorporate basketball imagery in the font. She
also suggested fonts with more impact than the ones I’d found.

That all sounded good to me, and I felt relieved to be in the hands of a pro. At that point, Fiona and I
agreed to work together, I paid a 50% deposit of $67.50, and the project moved forward in earnest.
Fiona selected a stock photo from one of her preferred sites. She adjusted the colors to a moody,
natural palette I wanted, selected the fonts, and devised the layout. Her very first draft was close to
perfect and I requested only a tweak before signing off on the final cover; click here to see.

As you can tell, getting from the blank slate to the cool cover was a somewhat painstaking process that, for me, couldn’t be rushed. Be sure to allow enough time in your pre-production schedule for your ideal book cover to be professionally designed.

About the Author:
Nicole Eva Fraser is the author of I Don’t Think It’s That Simple, forthcoming in Summer 2014; The
Hardest Thing in This World (2013); and GPS for New Novelists: Navigating the 5 routes to
publication (2014).



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Top Ten Tips for a Great Book Cover

Crime pays
A stunning book cover is one of the best marketing tools for any writer!

It is absolutely crucial, especially if you are self-publishing, to have an excellent book cover that grabs attention – from a 1-inch-size image.

Your cover image and title are your attention tools. If they attract a reader, this reader will have a look at your book’s content (“Look Inside”) and check out the book reviews to make a purchasing decision.



Top Ten Book Cover Tips:

  1. In the Western world, people read left to right, top to bottom. Position your elements in appropriate levels of importance.
  2. Use light (but never, ever white) on dark for dramatic effects (novels, spiritual, etc.) and dark on light for easy readability (self-help, how-to, business). There are always exceptions to the rule when you want your book to stand out with a certain color or theme.
  3. When setting up your cover layout, allow another 0.25inch from the trim guides. This will ensure enough space around the cover’s edge and provide a more professional look.
  4. Give your finished cover the thumbnail test. Make sure it will look crisp and polished when reduced way down for display on online bookstores like Amazon or Barnes&Noble.
  5. In a bookstore the viewer will first look at the front cover; then flips to the back cover to read further. Draw him in with a catchy back header and short description of your book (blurb).
  6. Visit local library and research as many book cover designs as possible. Identify what works, and what doesn’t work for you. You can learn just as much from badly designed books as from beautifully designed books.
  7. Don’t center all the text on your cover or title page–this looks unpolished and unprofessional. Left aligning produce much cleaner lines.
  8. Don’t use more than two different fonts on your cover – this includes counting bold, italic, underline etc. variations as different fonts – better less. This confuses the eye and sends a negative message to the viewer.
  9. You can create a bar at the top to put in any important info about your book – awards won, important testimonials, etc.
  10. Put your title “above the fold” – somewhere in the top half or third of your cover.



Hyper Smash


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What is Involved in Self-Publishing?











“Have you ever noticed that a person who becomes successful tends to continue to be successful, and on the other hand, a person who is a failure, tends to continue to fail? It is because of goals. Some of us have them, some don’t.”  Earl Nightingale in “Strangest Secret”

Publishing a book is like opening a business. What is an entrepreneur supposed to do in order to start his business, become a successful owner and sell lots of … well, beautiful handbags or lamps for sample or get lots of orders to design gardens or build houses?  She or he would have to set up a business plan and do plenty of research in their particular industry. The same research you will have to do:

  • Industry Overview – the big picture of publishing
  • Competition – their platform, marketing of their books, sales
  • Suppliers – retailers, aggregators, their conditions, prices, reputation
  • PR & Marketing – budget, free PR, social media, contacts
  • Business – contracts, calculations, accounting, legal
  • Markets – audio books, newspaper articles, foreign rights
  • Publishing – e-books, paper books, formatting, cover design, editing, publishing news

Writing an ebook or a book for that matter, is not a Get -Rich-Quick exercise – even if some publications try to make you to believe this (“Write & Publish in 7 days”, “How I became Millionaire in three months”…). It takes at least several months until you have a following in social media or until search engines notice your webpage or blog and until you receive responses (and customers). This is the reason why it is so very important for you to start your marketing before you even start writing your book. Yes, that is right, pre-publishing promotion begins long before the book is ready and it is the key to your books success.

Unless you are solely writing for creative expression, as a hobby and not for sale or god-forbid, to make a living – your book has to pay its own way, contributing to greater opportunities and profits. If you’re not prepared to professionally self-publish, professionally promote and professionally market your book, then don’t go the self-publishing route!

Professional means hiring professionals: editors, graphic designers, book layout professionals and marketing staff – unless you are good in designing and marketing – but never do your own editing!

If you’re waiting until the book is finished to start marketing, you are already behind the curve. Finding, reaching and building your audience will take a lot of time. Don’t wait until you are sitting with a warehouse or garage full of books. Build the audience first and then deliver the product.

With self-publishing your success will double: Writing a great book & market it professionally.



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Did You Make These Book Marketing Mistakes?

books “A new way to Fund & Follow Creativity” was the last resort for an emerging author to fund her POD book project which was previously sold in e-book version.

She wrote in an article: “At the time of writing this, I am franticly trying to raise another $1,658 to meet my Kickstarter goal. $4,400 didn’t seem like so much when I launched the campaign for my novel a few weeks ago.

I am quietly panicking, but I trudge on. I gave myself 30 days, which meant I needed to raise an average of $142/day. So far, I have exactly $2,742 with 46 backers. I continually work to keep visitors excited and donating for the duration of the campaign.

To cut down on costs, I started with an e-book on Amazon, and was able to get a bit of press here and there. However, I was missing a significant portion of my potential market only going the Kindle route, and I wanted, for example, my grandparents to be able to read my novel. So, I put $250 into a book cover, and pre-ordered copies from

After all of my closest friends and family members bought their copies, I realized I needed marketing. Sales were declining…

Finally, I admit that working in social media, I tut-tutted email marketing as if it were so archaic. I was wrong. Most people are on Facebook, but pretty much EVERYONE has email.  Start building your list now!!! The day I emailed my contacts on my email list, I raised $350.”

My comment:  Have a marketing plan ready, BEFORE you publish your book. Shop around for cover design, layout, printing etc. early on, look at and, start your authors platform and contacts even BEFORE you are writing your book. Every business has to have a business plan, even the book publishing business – in which you are after all as a self-publisher.



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Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Marketing, Self-Publishing


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Not Yet Convinced to E-Publish?



You CAN make money with e-publishing.
There are authors that made already a million with their e-books, but also authors that barely sell a hundred books per year – it all depends on the quality of your book(s) including cover art, layout and reviews – and how well they are marketed. Same how it works with paper books.

There is overhead cost in e-publishing.
Like paper books, e-books need proof-reading, editing, lay-out, cover design, an ISBN number plus converting in various e-book formats for e-Readers and most important: Marketing.

Editing is essential.
Some e-book authors don’t do it to save money, and some e-publishers do it minimal or not at all. But proof-reading and professionally editing is the most important part in publishing.

E-publishers have to invest in e-books.
…or they will fail.  Just because authors are rarely paid any advance (but rather higher royalties) doesn’t mean there are no investments to make. 

It is not so much easier to get your book out with a reputable e-publisher.
Professional e-publishing houses have their standards to carefully pick their authors in order to deliver quality literature. I am here not talking about vanity publishers that are also to be found in this field and easily can be recognized by charging authors beforehand. I read a good advice: “As an author the only place you should be signing a check is on the back to cash it.” 

It can be a stepping stone to traditional publishing.
Yes, there are e-book authors that have been picked up by the “big six” publishers – but with e-books becoming common-place as do e-Reader devices, in the future e-book publishing will for sure overtake paper book publishing – and the “big six” are coming along with it.

More and more people read e-books.
Also paper books will stay with us, there are many practical reasons for e-books: We don’t need to carry heavy stacks of books to the cottage or on the plane. And we can read at night in bed without using a bedstand lamp (my dog hates bright light in the bed room 😉


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