You Can Design Your Own Cover, Too!

Until I become a published author, I’m going to draw my own book covers. I mean, why not? I’m not paying anyone to do it for me right now. There’s an art to it, however. Not just anyone can do it. When drawing your book cover, you’re portraying the tone and theme of your novel. As a reader, I know that the cover must catch my eye. A terrible cover is an immediate turnoff. As I have written about catching the reader’s attention in your first paragraph of your novel, you also must have an eye-catching cover. First of all, you must have a catchy title. Here are some examples: Catching Fire, Eclipse, The Lightning Thief, Inheritance, Mark of Athena. Those titles are memorable. Think of your favorite books. You probably remember them by the title, right? Exactly. When writing a series, the series must have an overall name like The Inheritance Cycle or The Reformation Trilogy. Oftentimes, authors will take the last book in a series and name the overall name after that (Like Inheritance) and add the word cycle, series, chronicles, trilogy, etc. The three novels in my most recent series are titled thus: Devastation, Innovation, Reformation. Notice the -ation at the end of each word? It ties them together and creates an impression in the reader’s mind. Of course, these aren’t just random words. They represent different times in The Reformation War and names of cities in Misha. Not every author does this, however. Let me use Stephanie Meyer’s The Twilight Saga as another example. She uses the following for titles: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn. I love the way she names the books. Each represents a time of day and gives the sense of a dark journey (hence the times of day involving nighttime).

You get the point. Titles, of course, aren’t the only things that matter on a book cover. Your pen name does too. On this blog, I use S.G.B. On my novels, I use my middle and last name. There are different ways of displaying your name on the cover. I prefer to tuck it away. I want the title to be one of the main focuses, not my name. However, my name is visible enough. Readers need to be able to find it when searching for your books. (Hopefully one day) They might say, “Oh look! It’s so-and-so’s new book!” because they see your name on the cover.

Finally, the actual designing part. I just finished the cover of Reformation, and I’ve drawn all the covers for The Reformation Trilogy. Let me just clear one thing up: I’m no professional. I’m learning and drawing and working on anatomy. I’m not perfect, but I figure now is the time to learn how to do it. For Devastation, I drew the protagonist, Anastasia Knight, front and center. Her comrades’ heads surround her, and a metallic dragon (Igor) flies overhead; a burning building can be seen in the background. For Innovation, I drew Anastasia farther back. Felix Ivanov and Draco Rubin both have a hand on her shoulders (hinting at the love triangle). Igor and the Chempoin (both of whom are robot dragons) face off. A few characters can be seen on the right and left of Anastasia and are enlarged. Buildings are in the background. So much is going on in this cover in comparison to the cover for Reformation. Finally, Anastasia Knight is front and center, but she’s alone this time. Her friends can’t save her now. Well, except for one. Igor and the Chempoin wrestle in the sky with some simple jet planes around them. Anastasia stands upon a pile of rubble with her gun held up; her iconic wrench sticks out of her boot (the wrench is included at least once in each cover). The colors are muted and Anastasia stands out. A battle can be seen from afar, and building rubble can be seen in the background. I want to keep the protagonist the focus, so I let her be the star of the cover.

Now, there are many approaches you could take. Some might use an object. You could take a rose (perhaps for a love story) and use it in a symbolic way. You could use a memorable scene. Your colors on the cover should reflect the tone of the book. I used dark, dreary colors for The Reformation Trilogy. If your book has an optimistic tone, use brighter colors. Some use online programs to design covers, but I have never tried it myself. Check out my post, 5 Reasons YOU Should Learn How to Draw, to see what drawing utensils I use in my artwork.

Here’s to a 2014 in which we discover the key to becoming published authors.

Until next time,

S.G.B.

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