First, thank you for being on the blog.
Tell us a little bit about your book cover design site Littera Designs, including both the pre-made covers and custom design covers you offer.
As a fellow author, I understand the importance of beautiful, eye-catching, professional-looking covers and work hard to produce the highest quality designs possible. I specialize in book cover design for all lengths of fiction and non-fiction—from short stories to novels to memoirs to how-to manuals and everything in between—and most genres. My favourite genres to design for are women’s fiction, chick lit/romantic comedy, thriller, historical fiction, and middle-grade/children’s fiction.
What is your favorite book cover that you designed?
Do I have to choose just one? I’ve got a least a dozen I’d qualify as favourites for one reason or another. But I think, if I have to narrow it down to just one, it would be the very first cover I designed as a freelance designer. It’s not my best work, nor is it my worst, but I’d likely have never considered a career in cover design without that opportunity.
What is a book cover that you didn’t design but that you wish you had?
Again, I don’t think I could narrow it down to just one cover! I greatly admire designers like Scarlett Rugers, Damonza, and Jason Gurley and am always a little envious of their skills and talent. Basically, many of the covers they’ve designed I wish I had.
How much do you research the covers of bestselling books in a genre when you’re designing covers, and do you consciously try to design something similar or completely different to those?
I definitely take a peek at the bestseller lists when creating a design. It’s important to know what other designers are doing and to keep up with trends and styles. I also like to follow blogs that discuss cover trends. I would never copy another design, but I keep those designs in mind while doing my own. I usually try to create designs that are both similar and different at the same time.
What makes a bad cover so instantly recognizable?
Where to start? Poor image choice, poor contrast, poor colour scheme, terrible typography, wrong aspect ratio (too square or too tall and narrow), not communicating genre . . . There’s a lot that can go wrong on a cover!
Getting a good stock photo and/or image is only one part of the cover design process. Can you talk a little about font type, size, and color selection when designing a cover?
Just as much as the images, fonts communicate genre. Some fonts, like the popular Trajan, cross genres, but others are more genre-specific. Choosing the right font for the project is very important. Sometimes I spend as much time on font selection as image selection. Sometimes more!
When it comes to font size, again, genre plays a role. But titles don’t always have to be huge to have impact. And there’s some debate about readability at thumbnail size. I think, as long as the cover is clearly communicating genre and the design creates interest, then readability isn’t as important.
For colour selection, yet again it’s going to depend on the genre. You wouldn’t want soft pinks and yellows on a thriller. Neither would you want dark, broody colours on a sweet romance. But I love colour and always try to incorporate bright or bold colours into my designs, no matter the genre.
Do you have any unique calling cards you do in your covers that immediately make it identifiable as ‘one of yours’?
Nothing I add intentionally, but I’m sure there’s something to my style that’s unique to me. Maybe my already-mentioned use of colour?
What are some glaring mistakes authors make when trying to design their own cover that professional designers spot right away?
I’d say typography is the big one. I’ve seen DIY authors choose really excellent stock images that in the hands of a capable designer would make amazing covers, then basically ruin them with poor typography. Either poor choice of fonts, poor layout (lack of kerning is a big one, but also placing the text too close to the edges, or making it too large or too small), overdone type effects (glows, drop shadows, etc.), poor colour choice (like red text on a black background), or any combination there-of.
What are a couple of insider tips and tricks that professional cover designers use that turn a good cover into a great one?
Off the top of my head, I’d say the use of kerning, gradient-fills, and contrasts (either in colour, light and dark, or juxtaposed images).
Can you talk a little about the importance of designing a book cover to market and the idea that a book cover should be instantly recognizable to an author’s target readers? For example, having a spaceship or planets for a sci fi book or a couple kissing/getting steamy or a shirtless hunk for a romance.
Absolutely. Your cover has to communicate genre, be it romance, thriller, historical, literary fiction, etc.. That’s where having a designer who’s in tune with the trends and styles of each genre is so important.
If an author wants to contact you about a pre-made or custom cover, where do they reach you?