Cover Art Musings … I Need Your Opinion!

So now that I’ve finished the first edit of Chasing Nonconformity, it’s time to start seriously thinking about the future of my series — namely, what I’m going to do with it. Obviously I will not be publishing the sequel through iUniverse (ha!), so it will definitely be self-publishing for me. I’m thinking of going KDP Select, at least for the first few months, because that sounds like a really cool program and I’d love to see how it works out.

Now, this brings us to the question of what I do about Imminent Danger. I don’t remember the specifics of my contract, but I believe I can basically opt out of the contract with iUniverse any time after the first year by giving them 30 days notice. So then after 30 days they would de-list the book and it would disappear from assorted websites (well, probably not the print copies, because apparently online retailers like to keep listing books years after they’re de-listed, but whatever).

I’m thinking of de-listing with iUniverse a month or two before I release Chasing Nonconformity, which would give me time to format it and re-release it with the sequel — and I would probably offer it for a lower price as well, to try and get people interested in the series. But all this rambling is not relevant. What is relevant is …

Cover Art for Teen Books — Simple, or Fancy?

I guess what I’m really trying to figure out is what direction to go with my cover art. The cover art for Imminent Danger I have right now is fine, but it’s not really … exciting, you know? It’s got the space thing going on, which is cool, and then it’s got the silhouettes, which don’t actually look anything like my characters, locked in a passionate embrace … but that does nothing to capture either the “imminent danger” part of the title, nor the humorous element implied in the “and how to fly straight into it” part of the title.

So clearly I will need a new cover (not to mention I’ll have to pay iUniverse $700 if I want to buy the rights to their cover). Which leads us to the question: for a YA/teen book, what’s better — simple, or fancy?

Here are some examples of simple covers:

And here are some fancy covers:

So, as you can see, two very different styles. Now, if you consult this list of the best YA book covers, you’ll find that the vast majority of YA covers feature the female protagonist in a pretty/cool outfit doing something dramatic. So there’s another point to consider. But then, Twilight and Hunger Games are both insanely successful, and they have super simple covers, so … yeah.

Another thing I’m considering is hiring an artist to do an illustration for the cover. I’m thinking either just Eris (the protagonist), on a starry background, floating dramatically toward something just off-screen, perhaps shooting something with her laser gun. Or possibly Eris and Varrin (the space pirate) doing something that bespeaks their romantic relationship while at the same time being exciting and awesome. I don’t know. I spoke with an artist yesterday who will do the cover art for Imminent Danger and Chasing Nonconformity for $800 each — which I thought was a lot, but apparently (according to my mother) is quite reasonable for such a thing.

OR I could go the stock photography route and do it myself. OR I could hire a cover designer to do it for me. OR I could … I don’t know … sacrifice my teddy bear to the graphic design gods and hope for a miracle.

As you might have noticed, I have absolutely no idea how to proceed. So, any and all thoughts / opinions / suggestions / graphic design god contact tips would be greatly appreciated. Ooooh, I should also make some polls, because clicking buttons is fun. One second …

 

Notice that I didn’t put the teddy bear sacrifice option on the poll. That’s because this is a serious matter, darn it! Plus, I need my teddy bear to guard my apartment from looters and vagabonds, so sacrificing him should be a last-resort option.

 

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83 thoughts on “Cover Art Musings … I Need Your Opinion!

  1. $800 is a LOT for a book cover. There are good artists (I’m thinking ravven.com, but there are others) who will do a whole package (covers for e-books, hardcover and softcover, bookmarks, whatever) for between $200 and $300 (usually manipulating stock photos in lovely ways, not doing art from scratch). Also, there are sites when you can buy pre-made covers (that are removed after purchase, so they’re only yours) for less than that. I wouldn’t pay $800 unless I had the money to throw away and the art was going to be spectacular, evocative, effective for marketing… basically perfect.

    I can’t vote on the covers, because I’m torn on that, myself. I think the cover for Fallen is gorgeous; I think the cover for Clockwork Princess is over-done. The twilight cover is really good, and so is the Hunger Games one, but it doesn’t tell you what the book is about. For your book, I’d say simple; something that symbolizes the story and tells us that it’s a fun/exciting/entertaining space adventure.

    Best of luck with it, and I like your plan. It sounds great to me.

  2. Maybe I point you to my cover designer? http://www.pheeena.com

    She is fabulous, and only charges $100 per cover. She doesn’t do any illustrations, but she does amazing things with stock photos. She is also reaaaally patient, and created more than one cover for Puppet Parade for me to choose from. She’s a bit busy with school these days, but seeing as you won’t be publishing any time soon, she will have enough time to make a cover for you! 😀

    • That was suppose to be “May I…” Darn WordPress for not allowing me to correct my typos.

    • Oooooh she IS good!!! And $100 is crazy cheap. I will have to get in contact with her and see what she says 🙂 Thanks for hooking me up!!!

    • I’m probably breaking all sorts of WordPress laws by posting a reply to a comment on a really old post, but whatever 🙂 I just wanted to let you know that I did end up getting in contact with the designer you suggested, and we’re working on some cover ideas right now! Thanks again for point her out to me 🙂

      • Oh yay! I’m really glad to hear that. =D Fena is just lovely, and I’m sure you’ll love the cover she’ll give you!

        I want a sneak peak. 😉

  3. Michelle…not advising you one way or the other, but just offering my experience. I hired a pro for my 3 covers. I think when you are unestablished as I am, I need all the help I can get, so a good cover is important. $800 is not an unusual fee for a good artist. Be careful of those who use stock photos because you cannot (or should not) steal them. They cost money and some stock providers will want an additional fee for a picture if you sell over a certain amount of books–but you would gladly pay if that happened. As I think I may have mentioned before, go to CreateSpace and study how their templates work for uploading the entire book. I mastered the process by myself and I can now upload a book which they totally accept and–here is the bonus–it cost NOTHING because I provided print-ready files. That helps open the budget for the cover art. I would be happy to guide you through the process if you asked.

    • That’s an excellent point about stock photography — I was looking through the sites, and there seem to be extended licensing fees if the picture is used more than … I think it was 500,000 times? Hmmm. I don’t suppose you know of any sites that don’t require something like that? 🙂 As for book creation … I’ll definitely have to learn how to do that eventually, but it won’t be for at least a few months yet. If I do have any questions, I’ll send them your way! That, or I’ll write a lengthy post about my inability to self-publish anything, and you can write me a comment saying “I told you that I would help guide you through this, darn it!!!”

  4. If you hire someone to do an illustration, you’re still going to have to hire someone to do the cover. Also, think about what you want your main vehicle to be (ebooks vs. paperbacks) because when you have an ebook cover, they design for the thumbnail. Not that they don’t look nice larger. I like http://www.bookbeautiful.com She’ll do two concepts, so you can decide whether you want the simple one, or the more traditional. Her worksheet makes you think about what you want too. She did my Geordi Loves Cthulhu cover too.

    • Well, you asked for help, and I think it came out in droves. 🙂 But I’ll give you my li’l ol opinion too, just because. As much as I enjoy fancy AND simple covers, I feel like Imminent Danger is more of a simple-cover book. (Obviously that’s not a bad thing!) Your writing style is straight-forward, strong and funny, and so is your story. (Yes, despite all of the changing-hands Eris does!) I feel like too much of a froo-froo cover wouldn’t fit what you’re getting when you open the book. But luckily you’re dealing with space, so you have a lot of stuff to work with. 🙂 (Or your cover-artist does.)
      And on that note, for God’s sake don’t pay $800 a cover!! Dear goodness. A lot of people have obviously given you awesome sites to get covers. I’ll just add damonza.com to the list because I love his covers, and you could get ebook+hardcover versions for still like 1000 total. (both covers.) Not saying he’s the best deal, but he definitely does good work. (And still less than 1600.)
      That out of the way, I like your idea of unlisting Immin Dang a bit before NC comes out, then re-releasing it to get hype back up for the sequel.
      Always so excited for you. ^^ Living the dream. (Or something.) Good luck choosing though! I’m sure I’ll hear all about it on here. =D

    • Those covers on bookbeautiful are lovely! Hmmm … so many choices 🙂 And good point about the illustrator/cover designer thing. I think I’m not going to go through with the illustrator idea after all — too expensive for my humble pocketbook. 🙂

  5. I did my own, but I have the advantage of living with an outstanding photographer. I actually like the concept of the iUniverse cover, and I think you could do something similar working from stock photos.

    I also recommend going with Amazon and Create Space. As for the KDP, that depends on if you are anticipating any Nook/iBook sales–the advantage of having the free promo days have to weighed against giving Amazon an exclusive.

    • You lucky man, you. I have a friend who’s an excellent pet photographer — think people would be confused by a cat floating through space?

      Yeah, I like the iUniverse concept too — the concept was actually created by a friend of mine, iUniverse just found the photos and put it together. I would want something similar — stars, figures, etc. — I’m just not sure what it will end up looking like.

      From what I know of my sales so far (which isn’t much), I *believe* most of the sales have been through Amazon. So I’ll probably go with KDP, at least for the first couple of months 🙂

  6. Oh, and I would advise consulting an attorney regarding how to get out of your contract with iUniverse. Yes, it’s an added expense, but having a letter sent to them on a lawyer’s stationary could save you a lot of headaches. In my area there is a local group that offers free legal advice to artists, you might check to see if you have one there.

    • I don’t *think* that will be necessary. Hopefully! I mean, I’ve read the contract, and they quite explicitly state that you just have to contact them and give them 30 days notice when you want to cancel the contract, so … I’ll try that first, I think, and if it goes awry, then I’ll seek legal advice.

  7. Personally, I like the fancy ones better, but simple can, and does, work very well. You should go with what YOUR gut tells you. What’s better for your work?

    I’ve just designed my own front cover and I won’t lie, it took ages, with a lot of moments when I felt like giving up, BUT it’s pretty satisfying to have done it all yourself.

    My dad was the model on my front cover – it was then a case of doing all the fancy stuff in Photoshop to make it look professional. Good luck! I’ll be interested to see what you come up with 😀

    • See, I would love to pay an artist thousands of dollars to create a personalized front cover illustration … but sadly that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, so I’ll probably have to go with simple. I think it can work, though — starry background, some sort of figure … should be fine 🙂 I was thinking of designing my own cover … maybe I should give it a shot and see what happens!

      • I think you should have a go. You might surprise yourself! Good luck! Looking forward to seeing what happens. You could post some progress pics and get feedback and go from there 🙂

  8. I vote simple. Frankly, I’m bored to tears with pretty girls on covers (not least because it enforces gender stereotypes) and I think the book cover is a great place to experiment with symbolism and themes from your book. Why are the Hunger Games covers so powerful? Because they’re visually striking and, once you read them, you realize that they highlight important, symbolic objects from the book.

    I think the most important thing about cover art is that it be visually arresting – a blandly drawn simple object won’t work, nor will a confusing jumble of objects. In all the covers you used as examples, the eye is naturally drawn towards one or two objects that are the center focus, the color scheme is consistent, and the mood is distinctive.

    • There certainly are a lot of pretty girls on covers, aren’t there? My only worry is that if I forego that trope, I might be missing out on a huge audience who love that kind of cover … hmm. I definitely want a starry background — hopefully whatever beautiful nebula I end up with will be eye-catching enough that the pretty girl (or lack thereof) won’t be off-putting for anyone 🙂

  9. inkspeare

    I love fancy covers; however, it depends on the story and of course the budget. Of the examples mentioned above, my favorite is Clockwork Princess followed by Fallen. I loved the Twilight series covers, but what they did was very smart, keeping the design simple throught the series; however, the colors were strong – a symbolism of the symplicity of Bella Swan and the strong energy of Edward. So I guess that it depends on the series, and your characters as well. I am struggling with this too – cover decisions are not easy at all.

    • Yeah, Clockwork Princess is gorgeous. That’s why I’m now thinking of hiring a cover designer, saying, “Space, romance, adventure, go!”, and seeing what they come up with. Think it’ll work? 😀

      • inkspeare

        Yes it will be awesome! Best wishes for the new cover; I am sure that it will be gorgeous!

  10. Michelle, perhaps it would help if you came up with a single symbol to represent each of the two main characters. I’m not sure about Eric, but for Varrin … perhaps a peacock? 🙂

  11. I’ve always felt simple covers have more impact, but perhaps even something in the middle. Too much going on, and it’s just not appealing.

    This is totally off topic, but I couldn’t help it. I’ve loved keeping up with you on your blog, so I’ve just nominated you for the Sunshine Award! Come check out my blog to see details: http://crissilangwell.com/2013/05/10/the-sunshine-award/

    • Many thanks for the nomination 🙂 And yeah, simple covers can be fantastic — look at the Hunger Games series. I just need to figure out what simple image I want … hmm …

  12. I love simple covers. The less detail you have, the clearer the message is. When my book designer asked me for examples of covers I liked, I remember telling him I loved the Twilight covers, despite hating the books 😛

    • Hahahaha yeah, Twilight covers were pretty great, weren’t they? Brilliant concept, and I think it might have kick-started a new trend in book covers.

  13. Gee, Michelle, I won’t be much help. I’ve had no less than four cover changes so far. Sigh. I do admit to liking fancy covers over simple as they tend to draw my eye first, but ultimately, it is the blurb that seals the deal for me. I agree, $800 is pretty steep. I’ve talked with others who have had beautiful covers done (whether original work or stock photos) in the $100 – $300 range. You have time to shop around, and I agree with tmewalsh, go with your gut!

    • Yeah, $100-$300 is what I’m finding too. I found a really great cover designer who can slot me in in early December, which works well for a January/February release. I’d rather earlier, obviously, but she’s in school at the moment. She charges $100 per cover, which is extremely reasonable (way better than $800!). So my current plan is to go with her and see what she comes up with 🙂

  14. As far as my research into covers goes, everything that I have read suggests that if you’re going to self publish, about the only place you should definitely spend money is on the cover. Obviously costs in the UK are different so I have no idea what the conversion for your quotes is but if you are looking at a series, once you have one cover designed then you might find you can use the same basis for the rest which may cut the cost of future covers. My book has only just self published and is yet to fly off the shelves (lol), however I feel very proud whenever I look at it, that my cover stands up there with the best of them and I know that if I had tried to do it myself it would have just looked cheap and tacky. Plus, if you get it designed, you don’t have to think about what it needs to look like, you just give the designer the concept and they do the rest. The cover that I have is nothing like what I envisaged but it is actually perfect for the book.

    Re. the fancy or plain vote – I voted fancy. That appeals to me more and it for me, generates more interest in the content. I think the success of the series with the simple covers you mentioned, is probably down to more than the design of the cover.?? But what do I know, I’m a complete newbie at all this!

    PS. KDP is great. Am hoping to do a series of posts on publishing to KDP in the near future.

    • Glad to hear about KDP! It certainly seems like a good deal. And the cover design … yeah, I was thinking of doing it myself, but … I don’t know that I have the graphic design skills for that. I think I will probably end up hiring a cover designer — can’t go wrong with a professional, right? Oh wait, that’s what I thought about iUniverse, and look how that turned out, lol.

  15. I voted for fancy because that seems to be the norm for YA novels and might better capture potential readers’ attention.

    As for ideas, the title conjures images of breakneck pan-galactic spaceship chases. (At least it does after reading your first book.) I confess to wanting to see the Nonconformity on the cover.

    • It would be cool to see the Nonconformity on the cover, wouldn’t it? The problem is that it’s sleek and black, and I’m not sure how well it would show up against a black starry background, lol. Also … I don’t know, I get the feeling most of my readership would be girls, and because of that I feel like I should play up the romance angle more, you know?

      • I am forced to concede your point. A romance angle on your cover would probably be the better choice for attracting readership even if I like the metaphor of the Nonconformity better. 🙂

        • Then again, playing up the romance might be a turn off for guys — how many guys do you see walking around with books that have pretty girls in flowy dresses on the cover? Hmm …….

  16. Gwen

    Michelle, I think keep it simple, but relate it somehow to the Imminent Danger cover. The Hunger Games trilogy is a great example of what I mean.

  17. Simple is good. $800 sounds really expensive for what you can get out there. Some of the first people I followed on Twitter were cover designers. $100 mark though there are some great folk out there to provide you what you want. So many choices, but I’d want 4 or 5 covers done for $800

    • I mean, the $800 was for a professionally done illustration — basically I would be commissioning a piece of art. But you’re right, that’s a lot for a single cover, especially since I’m not exactly rolling in dough, lol.

  18. SIMPLE, SIMPLE. No pretty girls in flowing dresses–please, they are just so ubiquitous.

    As others have mentioned, the key to those successful simple covers is that they use something symbolic to the story. The apple in the hand on the Twilight cover is clearly a symbol for temptation. The Mockingjay is a symbol for Katniss, the lead character. I believe the Divergent cover is the symbol for Tris’ faction, Dauntless.

    The Mockingjay is now an iconic image. Can’t say the same for any of the girls in pretty dresses.

    • What about a pretty girl in a flowing, STARRY dress??? Lol. No, I get what you mean — if you walk through the YA section of a bookstore, 3/4 of the covers have pretty girls in dresses. It’s slightly ridiculous. I need to figure out the symbology for my book now …

  19. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but often I’ll do an impulse purchase based on the cover. My eye always goes to the simple cover. It’s a big decision for you and I wish you the best of luck. I’ll look forward to hearing an update.

  20. I have noticed the covers aimed at boys tend to be simpler than those aimed at girls so maybe that is something you have to consider as well

    • Excellent point. I mean, my book has been well received by both guys and girls, so I wonder if I’m doing the book a disservice by playing up the romance angle too much? Hmm …

  21. Keep it simple. Simplicity works wonders. Sidenote: KDP is the devil. IMO.

    • Simple. Check! As for KDP … why are they evil? The exclusivity thing?

      • “Simplicity is key to brilliance.” Bruce Lee. Overly complex covers are nice, but not totally necessary, I think.

        And yeah. There’s that, on KDP. And only 5 days of free promotions. And the fact they seem to change their ToC whenever they see a way to screw you over (if you don’t have the clout of a publisher, that is). Or, I’m a hater… I just can’t stand’em.

  22. Reblogged this on The Arkside of Thought and commented:
    What do y’all think?

  23. Wow. Where to start. I put Beginning of a Hero through iUniverse way back and then broke the contract to put it on Amazon. Like you, I didn’t keep my original cover art. Here’s one thing to be aware of that gave me a headache. The Amazon site for your original book will not go away because Amazon leaves it open for anyone wanting to buy a used book. Eventually, the old version will merge with the new version, but that takes over a month. Unless you can request that Amazon do it earlier. I didn’t know it was an option, so it happened randomly. This is where the ‘why is my book marked as out of print?’ chaos came from back in early April. Maybe it would be a good idea to release Imminent Danger earlier to get this issue cleared up prior to the release of the sequel. That’s just me and my bad luck though.

    I think the cover art can go either way, but I prefer simple for YA books. Your current cover looks simple, but powerful enough to convey the tone of the book. I get the romance and science-fiction elements right away. Something fancy might get things a little muddled.

    As for KDP Select, you don’t have to join the program as soon as you publish on Kindle. It will give you a big boost at the beginning, but that also means you can’t test your book on Smashwords/Barnes & Noble. Personally, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. KDP Select could help you get onto the Hot New Release List for your genre during your new release status. I didn’t join KDP Select until recently and got some really good momentum. Joining program acted more like a pick me up when things slowed down.

    This is all from my experiences, so take it with a grain of salt.

    • Ack! Definitely something to look out for. So you’d suggest de-listing with iUniverse like … what, a month or two before I re-release it? And then give it another month or two before I put out the sequel? Hmm …

      Most people seem to be voting simple. That’s probably a good thing, as a quick check of my finances indicates that an $800 cover is slightly out of my price range, lol.

      I’ve heard really good things about KDP — and you seem to have done pretty well with it yourself 😀 I think I’ll just start on it and go from there — starting elsewhere and then de-listing the titles so I can be Amazon-exclusive sounds like a hassle, lol.

      • I de-listed several months before I jumped onto Amazon, so the timing doesn’t really factor in. The truth is that the old site is going to stay there no matter what. Once you jump onto Kindle, they will eventually merge the two sites. That will stop the confusion. My suggestion would be to send Kindle an e-mail before you finalize the self-publishing and ask them about it. If they can do the site merge within a few days of your new release then it won’t cause any trouble.

        As for the sequel, I don’t know. I say if it’s ready to go then put it out and enjoy the ride.

        • Lol, I like your style. I bet you own a convertible. I can totally see you driving along the shore with the top down, listening to some mellow reggae and saying philosophically, “Just enjoy the ride!”

  24. Michelle! You’ve already finished the first edit of Chasing Nonconformity? You’re zipping along at Ludicrous Speed!

    (Obviously I have missed some updates, but) is there a specific reason you’re diverging from iUniverse? In any case, the transition sounds like it will be an exciting one…I hope you have seatbelts built into in that fantastic space series! Good luck with your changes and congratulations on your upcoming release! 😀

    Re: cover art. I’ve come to embrace simplicity in many things, but I agree that some of those above are not as attractive as they might be… That said, it’s hard for me to give you a black or white answer. I feel like the key is going with something versatile and classic-looking that won’t look outdated in a decade. Which *sigh* is probably not really any help at all. If you go the KDP route, how much say will you get in your cover?

    P.S. Teddy bear sacrifice? LOL!

    • I am indeed done the first edit! Although my brother is now about a sixth into the book and he claims I need to cut out the first few chapters because they aren’t exciting enough, lol. Clearly there is still more work that needs to be done.

      I’m diverging from iUniverse because … well, a number of reasons. A big one is that the book is just too freaking expensive. The paperback is going for $17-$18 online at the moment, which is crazy when you consider you can get a hardback in stores for $11. And I know this is POD and whatnot, but still … crazy! And the ebook pricing is all messed up (at least in Canada). Something like $9 for an ebook — and iUniverse claims they can’t fix it. So that’s my current annoyance. Also, I want to try out KDP – it sounds like a really cool program, and I think my marketing attempts would go a lot better if I had control over my own book. Plus, that way I would have up-to-date sales reports (my first sales report of the year doesn’t arrive until the end of this month with iUniverse!).

      Moving on, lol. Um … yeah, simple seems like it’s going to be the winning idea here. And I suppose I can always change up the cover art in a few years if I get tired of it 😀

      • Excelente! Congrats, Michelle, and all the best with the revisions (the ‘fun’ part, no?).

        And holy crap, that IS a number of reasons. Thanks for taking the time to answer my question…if I go the self-publishing route I will definitely think twice before going through iUniverse! I was just wondering the other day about sales reports, too: how does an author know, for example, how many copies of a book have sold? Do you really not find out until the end of the year (at least via iUniverse)? Madness!

        And yes– you can always release a sparkly “new edition” and add some snarky tagline on the front: “Now with 20% more blue (or what may be better relevant…ha)!”

        • Haha my mom would love a book with 20% more blue. Maybe I should make a special edition copy, just for her.

          iUniverse royalty reports go out every three months, but they take two months to process … so my report for Jan-March arrives at the end of May. I don’t know what the report looks like, as I haven’t seen it yet, but my understanding is that they break down how many books you sold by ebook sales and physical book sales. More on that when I get my first report 🙂

  25. $800 is way too much money! Check out Steph’s Cover Design. She’s done my 4 new contemporary romance covers, and now my faerie trilogy. http://stephscoverdesign.wordpress.com/about/ Under $200 a cover. She does fantastic work. She does original art, photographs her own cover models, does photo manipulations and uses some limited stock photos. Go to the page above and look at some of her work and then watch the video on the page.

  26. I think some of the simplest covers are the most eye-catching. I’m thinking Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight with the apple, or Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver with just a simple forest scene someone could have drawn by hand. Loved them both!

    • Simple can be very striking, can’t it? Now to figure out how to make said simple cover striking … I almost want to just slap on a photo of a nebula, add the title and author name, and call it a day. But then people might think it’s a book about astronomy, and not a delightful and exciting romp through the galaxy with space pirates and lizardmen and whatnot.

  27. Simple covers!
    For two reasons:
    1) Men/easily embarrassed people are unlikely to even *look* at the typical fancy cover.
    2) Fancy covers sometimes have annoying traits, like cutting off the heroine’s face, or contorting her body into a ‘sexy’ pose that would cause some kind of spinal break.

    • 1) EXCELLENT point. Didn’t even consider that. Very few guys would be willing to go out in public with one of those “pretty girl in fancy dress” covers, would they?
      2) True, true. Spinal break is bad, or so I’ve been led to believe.

  28. wordsaremagic

    As a author of non-fiction/memoir, I have used simple covers for my books. I sketch out my ideas and give them to a friend who is a creative graphic artist and who has his own ideas of cover art depending on the slant of the book. We have to compromise to get to a final product and he submits the art work to the printer or to the publisher if I’m going the POD route with Outskirts Press. You can check out the covers on my blog: wordsaremagic.
    I have grandchildren heading into the YA readership. They seem drawn to vivid colors and futuristic sketches, especially for Sci-Fi works, so consider that combination as it relates to plot or characters. I’ll recommend Imminent Danger and Chasing Nonconformity to them!
    The price tag need not be hefty. A local graphic artist might have great ideas for your covers and be a lot of fun to work with. Good luck and keep on writing.

    • Vivid colours and futuristic sketches … interesting! I mean, I’ve got the vivid red going on right now, but … I’ll definitely have to keep that in mind 🙂 And I love your covers! They’re all so different and unique 🙂

  29. Unless you’re hiring Rembrandt I’d certainly go for simple. And I’d agree that $800 sounds like a lot of money. Think how many books you’ll have to sell to just get back the cost of the cover. There are loads of gorgeous shots of the stars for free, why not do it yourself?

    • The more I think about it, the more sense that makes. I’ve found a cover designer who does covers for $100 each with stock photography, which seems much more reasonable. More news on the cover design as it happens 🙂

  30. Has anyone used a crowd sourcing design site like 99designs.com? It looks like a good deal (several designers giving options for a professional cover) starting at around $399? I’ve never used it, though. Did you look into anything like that, Michelle?

    • I have actually heard of that, and it’s definitely up for consideration. It seems like a fairly legit deal — and I believe they have some sort of money-back policy where you can get refunded if you don’t like any of the designs. The problem with that one is that there are some great graphic designers out there for $200ish — so a place like 99designs is fairly expensive. Unless you get exactly what you were looking for, in which case, awesome!

  31. createspace has sveral cover options for selfpublishing, not a lot of choices, but you use your own pictures or pictures from websites like dreamstime for stock photos pretty cheap. They also will design a cover for a price I’m thinking it’s around $300. Obviously the simple ones would be cheaper, but I always love the fancy. My books are simple because I still have to watch my investment.

    • I’ve heard of the Createspace cover service, although I’ve also heard it’s cheaper and better to hire an actual cover designer. Have you / anyone you know tried the Createspace $300 design thing?

      • I used their free option with the ready made themes and just added my own pictures, very basic. But I am satisfied with how they turned out.

  32. Plain or fancy? I think it has to do with your story , your personality, and what you want your cover to represent. Look at Hunger Games and Twilight, plain covers and yet, best sellers. I do like the covers for Hush, Hush, and Fallen, but Clockwork Princess is too much to me.

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