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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Colors, and Fonts, and Borders, Oh, My!

The Tweaking of a Book Cover

To celebrate the first round of completed edits on A TOUCH OF THE PAST, I thought I'd share the process I went through in creating the cover for the latest Everly Gray Adventure. 

My first task in creating a book cover is finding the perfect photo or illustration, the one that shows the heroine or hero in the context of the story. I've spent days, sometimes weeks searching through stock photos to find the perfect cover art. And then the fun begins. Is the artwork ready, a stand alone piece, or does it need to be photoshoped before it shows the perfect ambiance for the story? Sometimes it's a hard call. 

When I selected the illustration for a TOUCH OF THE PAST, I knew right away it was perfect. My heroine, Everly Gray, was about to have the rug pulled out from under her life, because of course, that's what author's do best. The story begins with her flying to Honolulu, so what better depiction than a wild, red-haired woman doing a free fall...without a parachute? 

But the cover format wasn't large enough to support the entire illustration, so I tweaked it a bit in Photoshop by adding a gradient border. I wanted it to have a silvery shimmer.

It looked good to me, so I filed it as my "working artwork," and then uploaded it to Create Space. My cover format for the Everly Gray series was decided with the first book, so all I had to do was add the new illustration to the template. 

Here's the first pass:

My first idea was to use purple for the title. Purple is my favorite color, so it was a natural choice, and I hadn't used it in any of the previous Everly books. But it faded into the background and was difficult to read.

Next I tried two title variations, purple and red, both on a white background, hoping it would "pop" the letters. But the white background made stood out too much, and the title appeared almost unrelated to the artwork. That wouldn't do at all.


Moving right along...

I switched the title box back to gray, but wanted to try something radically different, like chartreuse to match her shirt.

Yowza! A titch on the bright side, and difficult to read.

By this time I was getting frustrated, and decided to go back to basics - black on gray.

It blended, was easy to read, and it made a cohesive cover. 

Except...maybe I needed to try just one more thing so I didn't wonder, or have doubts after the book was in print.

This font was easy to read, and it blended with the "antique" logo for the Everly Gray series, but it didn't match the other books in the series. And the red faded into oblivion unless I used the heavier font. I've considered this font for every book in this series. I like it. Except that the a is lower case in the titles, and there's no option for that with this font. It was a detail that messed with my OCD tendencies. 

Final decision: gray title box with black lettering. 

And now I'm wondering which cover is your favorite and why?

Happy reading,

L. j.


  1. Wow LJ, thanks for sharing your thought process in designing your covers. Most people have NO idea of all the decisions that go into this process, so it's nice to see it laid out for all to see.

    I'm liking this last cover a lot. The image on it, along with the image on "A Touch of Ice" are my favorites. Both are fun and whimsical. I like the blue background of "Ice" and wonder if turning the background of "Past" to a purple color would have helped with the purple type showing up on a light gray background. Also, I'm not sure if you have the ability to choose a purple that has some black in it? That could help the purple stand out more too.

    I know, just what you didn't want, someone else to chime in on the process! It is hard enough to do this alone without suggestions from the "peanut gallery"! You're doing a GREAT job all on your own!

    Aloha, P
    PS can't wait to read about Everly's adventures in Honolulu!

    1. Hi, Patrice.

      It's frustrating to be so limited with colors for my cover design. Unfortunately, the purple available for a background color was atrocious. I really must become more adept with Photoshop.

      I can hardly wait for you to read about Everly's adventures in Hawaii, too. I've been trying to get it published since Friday afternoon, but for some reason both Amazon and B&N are slower than they've ever been.

      Such is life. I'm trying to roll with the delay.

      L. j.