Saturday, September 15, 2012

Behind the Cover: Cover Elements

By Michelle Lee
BWL Art Director

I know it’s been a while since my last post, and for that all I can say is – GRAD SCHOOL.  What, you thought I was going to say I’m sorry?  LOL  Did we miss the last post – I am a Goddess.  Goddesses do not apologize.

Wait a minute.  The hubby is trying to get my attention.

* Five minutes later *

Ok, so I have been informed that while I am a Cover Goddess, and the love and adoration of my husband’s life, (yeah, I added that in, sue me), that I am still, in fact, a mere mortal. Whatever!   

As such, I guess I can apologize for taking so long to get to the next topic in my Behind the Cover series of posts.  I know there are some readers eagerly awaiting the X-Factor post that is quickly coming up.  I believe slacker it a term I have heard muttered under someone’s breath a time or two.  No, wait, that’s at my day job.  Never mind.

Anyways ...

Back to the topic at hand … just what else goes into creating a cover.

So … After I put the images together to see how different elements look together, I place the title and author name on the cover (often not in the color or font that I will ultimately use, but rather just a generic placeholder to start to formulate placement).  Then I start to play around with all the elements – the images, the font (style, placement, color, and effects), shifting them around until I get something that I am happy with. 

Part of an effective cover is making sure the font matches the theme.

Let’s look at Destiny’s Shadow by Rita Karnopp.  Here, the font is of a western style, which is appropriate for a historical set during the time of western expansion.  Now what about a story set in the orient?  The font needs to have an asian feel.

But what if it is a chilling story?  Something a little dark …  Then you have something like the font for Into A Dangerous Mind.  It kind of has a surreal quality to it, which fits the theme of the story.

After I get everything placed, I start in on effects of the font.

That could by anything from a beveling, back-shadowing, to another layer of the same text in a different color.  Whatever it takes to make the text stand out from the images.  Because you want readers to be able to read what the cover says – and not just in a massive size, but also the tiny sizes a lot of websites use.  It has to stand out.

Once I get everything laid out so that it looks good, I start adding in the extras – little things that just make the cover pop.

 What do I mean?

Well … in some cases, it could be a border.  You can see a hint of a border on Into A Dangerous Mind (above).  But it blends in, adding a subtle effect to the cover rather than standing out.  So how about some that stand out.

See how the pearls in Ann Cory’s cover make the pearls the ladies are wearing kind of pop?  How about the rope around the edge of Ginger Simpson’s cover?

In others cases, it might be elements from the story; for example the cover for Impulsive.  This is a collection of stories by Jamie Hill, and I wanted to bring something from each into the cover.  So there is a bottle for the genie, a trumpet for another story, and snow for yet another.  

 We can also see elements of the story in Lee’s Killough’s cover.  This story involves a wolf, and a gun in some form or another – that much is evident from the cover.

 Its little things like that that assists a reader in knowing a little more about the story at first glance.  Obviously, the book’s blurb is a major information source.  But a lot of the times, a reader will see a cover long before the blurb (especially if they are skimming websites for something to read), so I have to make sure that I assist the author any way I can in drawing the reader in.  They’ve worked hard on their story, put together a blurb, made sure the title fits the books and is something that will catch attention, and then it falls on me to wrap their hard work in a pretty package.

At the same time, I have to be true to the reader – creating a cover that actually fits the book.  I know I would be very disappointed if I picked up a book with a smoking hot embrace between a couple, only to find out that all the intimate scenes are ‘fade to black/closed door’.  I would feel like the cover did not depict the book in a true light.  However, something with a soft fully-clothed embrace in a park or something would fit.

Well, I guess that’s it for this issue of Behind the Cover.  I believe the next topic up will be series.  And after that, the X-factor.  So stay tuned.


  1. Hi Michelle,
    I agree with Roseanne, your covers are awesome. I love every one that you have done for me. Thank you so much.



  2. The covers are great. You do wonderful work.

  3. Roseanne - Thank you so much!

    Margaret - I'm so glad that you are happy with your covers. : )

    Lorrie - Thanks! I try my best to create covers each author is proud to display/have associated with their work.

  4. I agree with all the comments above but as far as my latest, still to be published book, is concerned, I am in total awe of the cover. You have added elements I didn't even think of and if I didn't know better I would think you had already read the book.

    Thank you so much Michelle and if it doesn't sell it certainly won't be your fault.


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