A Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Your Book – Blog #2
Blog Series – Step #2: Cover Art
PLUS, an Exclusive Interview with Our Cover Artist!
Hi again, readers! 2017 is in full swing, and with the holiday fun (and craziness) behind us, we decided it was time to follow up with the next installment of our blog series, A Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Your Book. (You can also read the first step to self-publishing your book, if you missed it). So, here it is!
Topic #2 is all about finding the perfect cover art to represent your story. The phrase, “You can’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t always ring true for us. Don’t we all find ourselves becoming intrigued by a book’s cover art? In many cases, it’s the very thing that encourages us to pick it up and read the jacket, first few pages, and so forth. Just look at the cover work that our artist did not only for our sci-fi series, but for musician Mike Kershaw above. (He also did the artwork for Linear Dragon, below). While it's not for a book, doesn't the cover still make you curious about its contents - in this case, the artists' albums?
A unique, eye catching book cover is so important to draw the eye of the reader. The title and font of your book, as well as the spine and back, are what your readers will use to imagine its contents. To ensure that your cover art truly wows your readers, you should make sure that it consists of the following:
An image that accurately portrays what your story is about (consider choosing a particularly exciting scene that doesn’t give away any spoilers)
An eye-catching picture that would make passersby want to know more about your story
A font that fittingly represents the tone/subject of your book (we’ll cover back matter, author bios, and other final considerations in a later blog post – keep an eye out!); for example, if your story contains vampires, you might want to have a blood-red font, even perhaps with some dripping blood included!
Avoidance of “cheesiness;” here’s where hiring a true professional becomes critical – you don’t want it to look as if your cover was created using ClipArt!
While some might argue that obtaining cover art is not necessarily the step that must directly follow the completion of the first draft of your manuscript, in our experience, this is actually the perfect time to find an illustrator. Here’s why:
You may need to “walk away” from your manuscript briefly before you look at it again with fresh eyes for editing
Finding the perfect illustrator to complete your cover art could wind up being more time-consuming than you’d expect
By pursuing this step now, you’ll give the artist of your choice plenty of time to communicate with you about your ideal image and make it come to life
With these points in mind, we recommend searching for an artist as soon as you’ve completed your manuscript. This is also extremely exciting because it brings your story to life in a new way, and once you see what your illustration looks like, you’ll be even more motivated to move forward in your self-publishing journey!
We were particularly lucky to work with a stellar graphic artist for our Computer Love Inc. sci-fi series. Steven J. Catizone, freelance artist, has a knack for book covers, though his artistic abilities span far and wide and encompass everything from album artwork to his own unique and imaginative designs. We were fortunate enough to find him through elance.com (now upwork.com), which is one avenue we recommend pursuing if you’re looking for a reasonably-priced illustrator whose artwork you can view online through the website’s portfolio feature. Of course, Steven is our top choice, though we might be a bit biased! (But seriously – just check out some of the artwork we’ve included in this post. He’s incredible!) When we say that we “worked” with him, it was actually exciting and fun – and far from labor for us! He is incredibly timely, affordable, and provided suggestions while supporting any alterations we requested along the way. Check out our interview with the talented illustrator, below:
An Interview with the Cover Artist for our Sci-Fi Books, Steven J. Catizone
Q: Hi Steven, We love your book covers! What is your favorite genre cover to design?
A: I tend to gravitate toward sci-fi and fantasy, but I dabble in the occasional horror-themed novels as well.
Q: How did you get started in graphic design?
A: (A long, long time ago...in a town not too far from where I now live). When I was about 8 years old, my uncle saw that I liked to draw a lot, so he gave me some colored pencils, a sketch pad and Boston’s “Don’t Look Back.” He then proceeded to challenge me to copy the entire cover – a challenge I gladly accepted, as I was just becoming a fan of their music. From there, my path was pretty much set.
Q: What is your favorite Sci-fi character?
A: That would have to be a toss-up between Luke Skywalker and Tony Stark, as I can very much relate to Luke’s desire to advance his skills, as well as Tony’s “way” of interacting with people in person. Q: Who are your favorite artists/ influences? Classical or contemporary or both?
A: Some of my favorite artists in terms of painting would include such masters as Roger Dean, Boris Vallejo and the late H.R. Giger. As far as musical influences go, I’ve been greatly inspired by the works of Yes/Jon Anderson, Journey, Spocks Beard and Marillion to name few.
Q: What books or movies are your favorites?
A: Life (at the moment) doesn’t leave room for any serious reading, but as far as movies go, that’s quite a long list! Lol! Some would be the Star Wars saga (minus the Lucas prequels), the first Superman film (circa 1978), Xanadu, Tron, and The Lake House to name but a few.
Q: Do you provide other services?
A: I mainly focus on designing covers for books and albums, though if time permits, I’ll collaborate on graphic novel work.
Q: Tell us about your latest project.
A: As of the time I’m writing this, I’m currently working on original material for an album I hope to start recording sometime this fall, with it (hopefully) being completed by Summer 2018.
Q: Water, Coffee, or Tea?
A: Coffee.....always coffee.
(Note from the CL Inc. team: this is a response that Jess supports and agrees with wholeheartedly).
Q: What/who inspires you? A: Bad Horse, the Thoroughbred of Sin. But really, almost anyone or anything. It pretty much depends on what kind of mood I’m in, who I’m around, or what might be going on at the time.
Q: What do you like the best about what you do?
A: I really enjoy working with others in putting a “face” on their literary or musical works. There’s nothing like seeing things come together and then case out into the world.
Q: Dogs, cats, iguanas or dragons?
A: Dragons – they’re easier to manage (believe or not) and keep the neighbor’s dogs in line!
Q: Where is your Olympus and why do you like living there?
A: “Olympus” is my homestead located atop a hill on the edge of a small town in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Along with the solitude and quietness of the area, the sunrises and clear starry nights are truly beautiful.
Q: A night out on the town or a night at home?
A: Aside from attending the occasional concert or movie, I very much prefer the comforts of the home I’ve created.
Q: Favorite hobbies?
A: Painting, writing songs/music, renovating areas of the homestead, and messing around with the latest inventive endeavor whilst trying not to start a fire, blow anything up or knock the power out (again)! lol
Q: How can folks contact you?
A: People can reach out to me via Facebook at www.facebook.com/StevenJamesCatizone or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
We thank Steven for his time, as always! If you’re seeking a cover artist who will brilliantly make your visions come to life in ways even more creative than you could have imagined, consider him your go-to guy.
Stay tuned for the next step in our series, which will help you navigate the dreaded task of editing!