Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Book Covers

The Magic and Mystery of Book Covers


There are many theories about what attracts us to certain book covers.

Image Courtesy of Gabriel Robledo ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/groble-50361

Image Courtesy of Gabriel Robledo ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/groble-50361

There are many misconceptions about what a book cover should look like.

To say that certain covers “speak” to certain readers seems true to me…

To say that an author, publisher, or designer can always conceive of the “right” cover for a book has been disproven millions of times.

Notes from An AlienMy short novel, Notes from An Alien, got the best cover I could design—many folks say it’s a “good” cover…

The same thing can be said for the cover of my poetry book, Is Your Soul In Here? Is Your Soul In Here?

Strange Fantasies I had the help of another author, Jane Watson, with the covers of Strange Fantasies and Story BazaarStory Bazaar

I’m not sure if authors really need professional artist/designers for their covers; mostly because I’m not sure what exactly makes a cover “good”.

I may like how it looks but that doesn’t mean others will…

I may be extremely attracted to the cover of a book; but, I may not like the story inside, at all…

Some folks might say a traditional publisher knows exactly the right cover for every book they publish.

Please, go talk to about a dozen authors who were traditionally published—you should find at least one who hated the cover they got…

I’m very sure there’s no readily accessible data for the books the big houses have produced that had “bad” covers…

In the realm of Self-publishing, there are all the self-styled “gurus” who demand you must keep your reader in mind when designing a cover…

Hmmm…

Perhaps a writer locked into a certain genre might “know” who reads their books; but, I tend to doubt if any author could guess the range of folks who could love their books; not to mention, like their covers…

So, with all this uncertainty and razzmatazz, I felt I had to share a particular article from Publishing PerspectivesRising Star Rafaela Romaya: ‘A Very Clear Vision for the Book’.

Rafaela is the Art Director at the Scottish independent publisher, Canongate.

The first statement that jumped out at me was this quote from Rafaela:

“There’s always an element of surprise and unpredictability regarding what draws people to covers, which is partly why each title gets the same amount of care and attention regardless of author or sales expectations.”

So, a professional cover designer admits the response of readers to covers has elements of surprise and unpredictability…

If you end up designing the cover for a book (or, consulting with someone about the design), this quote from Rafaela bears attention:

“I often have a very clear vision for the book and what it can achieve from the outset—finding the essence of the story through a small detail or unusual angle, and executing it in a style right for the audience whilst remaining distinctive.”

O.K., small details and unusual angles might help create a “good” cover; but, again, there is the wild uncertainty in the phrase, “…a style right for the audience…”—please, if someone out there knows exactly how to determine the definable characteristics of any particular book’s audience, my email address is in the blurb after this post………

You might enjoy reading the full interview; but, I will bring the video at the end of the article over here, since it shows a book cover that Totally blows my mind…


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Book Designing ~ Content Becomes Form


Putting words together can create Forms in a reader’s mind.

Yet, before the reader’s mind creates the Forms, the words are Content.

Reader’s would like to get a feeling of what the Content can potentially Form in their mind.

The cover of a book is the first connection between the author and the reader.

Book design is about covers but also about the typography—the Forms the letters take on the page—and a number of other design considerations.

The best space on the Web I know of to study all this is Joel Friedlander‘s The Book Designer.

A writer, even a self-published one, may not be the person who designs a book but they should certainly understand something about the process

The quickest and most humorous way to grasp the essentials, that I’ve found, is to watch this video :-)


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The Top 5 Goals for A Book Cover + A Great Course of Study In Self-Publishing . . .


You may know I’m in the class of poor writers.Notes from An Alien

My military pension is quite small so, when I got to considering a cover for the book I published back in May of 2011, I needed to get real resourceful

Luckily NASA’s Hubble Telescope Image Site had just what I wanted and adding the words to the image was within my own skill set.

Even though the cover you see here may not have people on it (like so many covers do) and even though many folks won’t relate to a picture from space, I feel it captures quite a bit of the mood and theme of my short novel, Notes from An Alien

I’m no “Book Designer” but Joel Friedlander certainly is and clicking on his name will let you check out the 26 other posts on this blog that feature him.

The post I’ll feature today is Top 5 Goals for your Book or eBook Cover.

From Joel’s article:

  1. Announce its genre—This is very important for genre fiction, but it’s equally important for any book to be clear right away about exactly what kind of book it is. This seems to me to be the first concern of the cover designer.
  2. Telegraph its tone—Particularly important for fiction and literary fiction, where the whole effect of the book rests on the skill of the writer. A cover can give you an idea of the writer’s voice in many subtle ways.
  3. Explain its scope—Mostly for nonfiction. Understanding the extent of the book’s subject helps to define its target market.
  4. Generate excitement (the “hook”)—Let’s face it, book covers are a subspecies of advertising design, and they can be powerful sales tools. But if nothing about the cover stops people, or evokes instant interest, fascination or curiosity, it can’t accomplish its aims.
  5. Establish a market position—This is almost the sum of all the other goals listed here. Taken together, they establish the exact space we see the book occupying amongst all the other books that address the same topic or which are in the same genre.

Joel doesn’t just throw out short descriptions of his goals.

He lets you know he’ll be covering this aspect of book design (along with many others) in his up-coming Self-Publishing Roadmap.

Clicking on that last link gets you on an email notification list for Joel’s unique offering and here’s what he says about it:

“Trying to publish your own book? Getting confused? I bet. Listen, I’ve been publishing books for over 30 years and it’s never been easier—and more confusing—than it is today.

“That’s exactly why I created The Self-Publishing Roadmap: to help authors like you get up to speed with how to figure out the best strategies, the best practices, and the most profitable ways to publish today.

“The Roadmap is better than any book. Even the best books are out of date almost as soon as they’re published! With online training we keep up-to-the-minute with the latest developments.

  • Proven strategies for any niche
  • Self-paced instruction and a helpful community
  • Get a marketing edge with hours of insider secrets
  • Step-by-step learning from the internet’s leading authority”

By the way, care to share in the Comments how many of Joel’s goals you think my cover accomplishes??
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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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