Thursday, March 8, 2012

Why I look at for covers that sell

So, I thought you might find this interesting.

When I'm studying covers to:

1. See what's selling
2. Get ideas for new ways to do covers

I look at a lot of different things. One of m

y favorites is to look at other countries covers. Have you seen the British Harry Potter covers? I LOVE THEM! More than the American on

American on the left British on the left. Both fit the book - but the American version is more childish - still very well drawn and a beautiful piece of art. The British is classier and more adult. Maybe it's because as an adult it appeals to me more.

That's just one of the many I look at. One series I've seen, American, British, French, Japanese, and German covers for. I find what appeals to me visually then attempt to recreate it in something that is completely my design.

I always remember that the big houses conduct focus groups on books and covers. They know what will sell books. As an eBook cover artist - I see way too many covers that look like everything but the kitchen sink on the cover, and I've done a few that way but I've learned that sometimes Less is More!

It's kind of like what type of image is erotic? Is it a woman or mans bare butt on the cover? Or the hint that if a piece of cloth, or the cover was just a tad longer you'd see more? I've always found that little curve of the pelvic bone in a cut man's abdomen to be incredibly erotic especially when it is seen over the waistband of a pair of unbuttoned jeans. Women? Oh that's easy - the curve of the spine - either at the waist or the base of the next. I've found that I use faces less and less on a cover. The models never look like the character - so why try and force it. Stock images can be a PITA to work with in finding the right model.

Covers change as time marches on. The full oil painted covers of the past have given way to the photo manipulation of today - I don't have a clue what the next trend in covers will be. I do know that I will spend hours in a bookstore looking at covers. Subscribe to magazines like Romantic Times to see what's going on with Romance Covers, magazines that teach me new tricks with Photoshop, and, KelbyTraining and other online video tutorial sites to keep growing and learning. I even have artist that I study their covers and try to figure out how they did them.

So if you are assigned me as a cover artist, or hire me as one - know I'll do my very best at that moment on your cover. Not saying I won't be better 1, 2, 3, or 5 years later cause I plan to be, but you will get the best I can do at that time.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Movie Review - Act of Valor

Now I normally talk about romances or covers but I want to talk about this movie. See I saw the 4:20 in the afternoon show and just now has my mind cleared enough to talk about it.

Criticism first - the script pulling together the fighting segments is weak, the Navy SEALS themselves are not actors - and it shows.

Praise - This ain't your usual Hollywood Alpha male bang-bang-shoot-em-up. There are things these SEALS do that I've never seen an actor pull off. It's TRUE - as in the spirit of the SEALS themselves are true.

Commentary -

Yeah, the dialogue is flat even when they are "joking around" but what the SEALS bring to this movie is something I've never seen an actor pull off. See, my hubby is a combat veteran and disabled so some of what I'll mention next I've seen in him. Nope he wasn't a SEAL or Special Forces but I've met some of those guys, so trust me on this. There is one scene as the team is extracting from a rescue and the camera shows each member of the teams face - those thousand yard stares? SPOT ON! Spec Forces guys are also not warm and cuddly guys. They are guarded and that comes across. The separation of Officers and Enlisted - yup got that right too. The action scenes are tense, and in a strange way inspiring. They are inspiring because these guys actually go out and do this stuff for REAL - they put their lives on the line and get injured and die.

One of my favorite scenes was when one of the SEALS left to go "down range" - his wife smiled, hugged him, scolded a tad then turned went into the house and cried with her hand over her mouth. Been there more times than I care to remember.

Hubby used to be in the Air Force Reserve and work as a Load Master - he flew with SEALS - taking them to drop off points. His comment - that's them. Tight. Focused. Have their shit together.

So if you want to see a movie that isn't Hollywood escapist BS - yeah go see this one. But bring tissues - you'll need them at the end. Not cause of the movie itself - but the way it touches your heart knowing these men are out there fighting for you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Covers - Wanted and Possible.

Well it's V-day so why not talk about what I do - Covers! Specifically eBook Covers.

One of the differences between an eBook cover and a print cover - is that an artist doing a print cover has more "canvas" to work with - front, back, spine... an eBook cover artist has only the front cover. Add another complication it has to be READABLE really small. One of the ways eBook cover artist compensate is to make the text MUCH larger than it would be on a print book.

But that's not really what I want to talk about. A lot of authors in the eBook world feel that they know better than a trained Cover Artist what their book requires as images and such, that they feel the cover must illustrate a scene in the book - perfectly represent a character, scene, whatever. Actually - NO. Yes if a character is on the book it should be as close to the character as the eBook artist can get with Stock Photos.

Yup, we use stock photos. Like many other eBook cover artist for small presses - I WISH I could hire models, hire the costumes, fly to the perfect location and hire the photographer to take the shots - or heck take them myself. But that is a financial impossibility. So for now I work with stock images - sometimes it takes hours to find just the right image - sometimes I luck out in that I'd seen an image, got it then cause I would probably never find it again, and have it in my library waiting.

Covers are difficult to do - the Artist/Designer has to balance image with text. Too much of one and the other gets lost, too little of one and the balance of the design is off.

A few questions I would really like every author to ask themselves before telling a CA what they NEED to do is:

1. Could I do it?
2. Could I do it consistently without knowing anything more than the brief information provided on the form?
3. Do I know how to use Photoshop well enough to trim the stock images - modify them as needed and make them see a cohesive whole instead of just a bunch of images stack on top of each other?
4. Do I have the training to do their job?
5. Do I know how to balance text and image to make a compelling cover?
6. Am I an artist?

So how many did you answer no to? If it's more than one - TRUST your CA! They do.