Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cover Story

It's one month since the publication of The I.T. Girl and it's been an exciting few weeks! So far I have enjoyed good sales and great reviews! I've joined book websites such as GoodReads and Book Blogs and have made friends with fellow authors and readers; I've been interviewed by SilverWood Books here; I've been invited to a talk as a published author; It's been such a busy time and great to be a part of!

I want to take a look back at the book covers I created along the way, when I was considering self-publishing. It's so important to get the cover right but unless you use a professional, it's a matter of having a gift for design. I certainly do not and often worried whether my homemade book covers were a help or a hindrance. There are many website that give advice, such as 6 Expert Tips on Designing a Great Book CoverTop Ten Tips for a Great Book Cover and Top 8 Cover Design Tips and so on... but I fear there will always be blind sports unless you're trained in the area. Also it's hard to know, should you invest in professional software to create the cover? We all know very simply designed book covers that are extremely effective, so the answer to this is not straight forward. 

Thankfully I'm really happy with my final cover, supplied by my publisher. Love the view of Canary Wharf and that modern/old-fashioned chick standing in front with her laptop. A difference that strikes me between this and my own attempts below, apart from, obviously, the superior graphics and design, is the fact that this cover tells you exactly what's inside. Which is of course what good marketing is all about.

I think these two photos are great - both taken by my friend, Dr. Max who has captured some beautiful shots of London. The one on the left is supposed represent Orla's work place - the story is set in an investment bank. I added the 1940s lipstick colour to give it a feminine touch! The one on the right is supposed to represent a boat party that takes place in the story. But with both covers there's no hint of personality or atmosphere inside the book. They don't really suggest to you what this story is about, so, as book covers go, they're not great. I couldn't see that though at the time of designing them but I did always say that if I self-published I would probably get a professional to do the job. I think my instincts were correct! The same can be said for the name change. Although I liked Orla's Code because Orla writes code and also has a formula for how to live her life - see what I did there? - it's still a vague name. The I.T. Girl in contrast, tells you exactly what you're getting. Incidentally, I got the font for the cover on the left from which has thousands of fonts for download - some with commercial permissions, some for non-commerical use only.

The first talk I went to about getting your writing published, about two years ago, put great emphasis on creating a website to showcase your work. We were also encouraged, perhaps recklessly so, to create our own book cover. I set up my website after that with some of my poems and an intro to Orla's Code. I found my way onto Twitter and 'liked' all over the internet. I also tentatively started blogging, just short updates about the submission process (before I got a taste for it and started rambling about whatever was on my mind). But I felt making a book cover at that stage was getting ahead of myself. So I created this lovely visualisation, to the left, instead. That's Orla on the millennium bridge, running because she joins a running club in the story. And that mysterious figure hiding in the trees is Columbus (a reference to a fancy-dress party). Diligently I also added in some market stalls to represent where Orla lives - East London, near the city. Finally, the buildings at the top represent London's financial landmarks. The one in the middle with the crane sticking out of it is the Shard... It does too look like it!... I think we can agree that no one was going to buy my book based on this illustration though; fun as it was to do, it is not a professional design. Just take a look again at the final cover, also featuring Canary Wharf... Well, it was a crazy time.

Please feel free to link to helpful book design sites...


  1. I think your website cartoon version shows a lot of promise - it just needs a bit more work and better figures. Overall, the 'feel' is good.

    (Now I feel like Joel Friedlander...)

    1. Thank you, Lexi. I certainly enjoyed letting my creativity flow with Windows Paint!