I’m the first to admit that I am not a graphic designer, but the last couple of years I’ve realised that I’ve a good eye for it. Both when it comes to seeing which elements that fits, and what to not to do.
1. Keep it simple
If you decide to design your own cover, keep it simple. the layout I picked for Daughter of the Dark ( image in the center, with top and bottom in a solid color) is a classic. The reason I picked it, was because it is almost impossible to screw up for me. Also, title and Name is much easier to read than if they are directly at the cover image.
2. You’ll never find the perfect cover image
While browsing the stockphoto sites, you keep on thinking, at least in the beginning: I’ll find the perfect stock image. Guess what? There is no perfect cover image. However, you will find one or two that fits the story. It can be because it hints at what happens in the story, or because it symbolize something that happens in the story.
3. Someone else will use your cover image
Unless you commission a cover illustration, you’ll not be the only one to use a stock photo. But you can lessen the risk by not using the most popular models. Which was what I did for Daughter of the Dark. So if someone is using the same stockphoto? Don’t complain on your blog. It happens even authors that are published by bigger publishers. It is a part of the job.
4. Don’t confuse the reader
This is something that sometimes even publisher forgets, but if make sure that the cover tell the reader that it is a fantasy/ romance/ mystery/ whatever. I’ll admit it, I have stopped reading some books because their covers don’t tell me which genre the book is. Or worse, it contains clue to something the book isn’t.
5. The cover must pop at several different sizes
So your cover is done, either by you or a cover artist, and it looks fabulous. In full size. But in today’s market, full size isn’t the most important factor. Nope. Today, most books are sold while readers browse online. Which means they need to look fabulous in thumbnails. And black and white. ( This is something that a lot of authors and Cover Designers forget. What’s the point of hiring a cover designer if the Title isn’t readable at thumbnail size?)