Self-Pub Like a Pro: Cover Artists Tell All, Part Two

Self-publishing is a brave new world, and we're here to help you navigate it with our monthly column, Self-Pub Like a Pro. This month we're tackling the ever-important cover design. Covers are such a big deal we're bringing you the insight of not one, but two, accomplished cover artists. Last week we featured Croco Designs and this week we consult Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations about what self-published authors need to know about creating covers.

Give us some examples of your favorite covers, and tell us why they're your favorites.

This is the hardest question. I have shelves upon shelves of books I have bought simply because I was drawn to the cover. Sometimes I can't even explain why I am drawn to certain ones, but I am. The Shatter Me series by Tahareh Mafi is very high up on my faves list for sure — the eye covers, not the original versions. They are intricate, bright, appealing, the colors are soft, yet draw you in. I love the designs because from afar they make you want to get closer, and when you pick it up to look at it, it's like you see a whole different design because of the details. I also love "Not a Drop to Drink," the lettering makes it almost look 3D and made me want to read it without even glancing at the synopsis. Don't even get me started on the beauty that is the Mara Dyer series. AH! There are so many that I wish I would've designed! I have a board on my Pinterest that shows a bunch I love. You'll notice all of them, while gorgeous, have easy to read titles

Give a us a few must-have pointers on what authors should want on their covers?

A clear title is major. I know so many people like really crazy fonts, but in reality they just don't work in any size. As long as you can read the title, I also don't think the size of the title matters. I know everyone is a big "must be able to read the title in thumbnail" advocate, but I am not. I have never ever gone on Amazon and clicked on a book because I read the title in a thumbnail. No. What caught my eye in thumbnail? The image. Then I read the title after I have clicked on it. Because if you liked the image, you are going to click for a better look.

Images are what perfects a cover for me. I prefer more artsy types, ones without such a literal meaning like a couple in the throws of passion — even though the majority of mine have been couple in the throws of passion! Putting a scene from your book on the cover? Not important. I've personally never been reading a book and stopped and said "Oh! This is the scene on the cover!" Doesn't cross my mind once I am into a story.  Do the people need to look just like your characters? No. Hair color, yes, eye color, yes. Those things are all changeable in Photoshop. You wrote the book, so you have a distinct idea of what your characters look like — to you. Each and every reader will have their own description of the characters, so it doesn't matter what is on the cover. People should never take the cover models as the definitive description of what someone looks like. I'd really like to start doing more Young Adult covers, because I feel like my style is evolving right now. There are a lot, maybe too many, covers that look similar out there. I want to break away from the pack and I am working hard at doing that.

Thanks Sarah! Readers can find more information on Okay Creations here and find part one in our cover artist series here.