Choosing a Book by its Cover

The second most labour intensive process of creating your own book is designing the cover. There are many designers out there that will do it for you if you have the money, but if you haven’t, then the task of distilling all the months of sweat and tears you poured into your manuscript now falls to you. Incidentally, if you haven’t a flair for art, or good eye for design, then I would highly recommend seeking out a professional, or at least solicit a friend to help out, because contrary to the old adage, some people actually do choose a book by its cover. I’m not a designer. I’d like to add that up front. But I did study art at college and enjoy photography. I also manipulate and tweak those photos using both Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. So I have the foundations, but I’m no where near the level of a professional.

When I decided to self publish, I spent a long time during the writing process, and a lot more after, trying to find the right look for the book cover. I found myself losing myself in mass market paperback thrillers, all of which had a certain style. They were uniformed in their ambiguity, which mainly involved a silhouetted man against a city skyline, or some dark woodland complete with skulking fog. Other thrillers and crime novels involved double exposure photography, again, involving cities and dark skies. Some novels used minimalist imaginary. These were clever and balanced the colours and themes of the book well. Bad People had elements of horror, so I had a balancing act too. I needed the cover to appeal to both the thriller demographic, and the horror. Naturally, I went through various designs, trying different imagery to see if I could do the prose justice as well as appeal to the right audience. Below you’ll find all the alternative covers I designed and then later discarded. I think you’ll agree, designing a book cover isn’t an easy one. But sometimes it’s rewarding when you stumble on the right look. Bad People’s final book cover has since received a lot of positive feedback, which thankfully makes up for all the hours invested in getting it right.

Published by craigwallwork

Craig Wallwork is the author of the novels, Bad People, The Sound of Loneliness, To Die Upon a Kiss, and the short story collections, Quintessence of Dust, and Gory Hole. His short stories have been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize and feature in many anthologies and magazines both in the U.K. and U.S. He currently lives in West Yorkshire.

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