When my first novel was being published, I received a curt email from the head of the publishing company saying that I had asked too much of my cover artist. I had no idea. It was my first book. I was new to this.
I’d seen a stock photo of a waiter and wanted him turned into an angel. I thought it was a fair request. I used Photoshop at work regularly and could visualise how it could be done. There’s a picture of that cover – HERE.
I’m sure I wasn’t the first difficult author with a cover request, and I’m sure I won’t be the last. So it got me thinking about asking cover artists what their view on our approach was. I’ve reached out to a few so I’ll publish these as they come in.
Today’s artist is Natasha Snow. She’s a Riverdale fan and she loves K-pop. That much I know from her social feeds. As for the rest, I’ll let her tell us herself.
Who are the artists you are inspired by?
Most of the artwork I look at is from book cover artists, but I have a favourite illustrator. His Instagram is: kelogsloops and he is a self-taught artist who does some of the most beautiful illustrative work I’ve seen.
Another watercolour artist I love is ashiyaart on Instagram. Beautiful colours and illustrations. Everything they post puts a smile on my face.
And my favourite book cover designer is Bookfly Design. Their level of artistry and typography is really beautiful, and I hope to have that much experience and ability one day. 🙂
Show us a cover of yours you are proud of and describe the process of creating it.
I chatted a lot with the author for the overall look of the series and what we wanted on each cover. We wanted to display several themes (romance, music, reverse harem) and needed to find a clean way to do it, as having so many elements on a cover can get really cluttered.
The author was absolutely amazing to work with and put a lot of trust in my hands. I had an idea of how I wanted it to look, set out to find stock photography, and played a lot with the colouring of the cover, along with the placement for the typography. I think we’re both really happy with how the final results of this series turned out, and I was personally thrilled to be able to put an Asian POC on a cover I’ve designed.
Show us a cover by another artist that you love.
I recently saw this cover somewhere on social media and had to stop my endless scrolling to look at it. It’s gorgeous and so well and smartly designed.
The use of colour is great. The cool red tone against blues/teals which are traditionally associated with water make perfect sense, while the red is striking and brings visual importance to the tail, which is the most important visual part of the cover. It allows the reader know exactly the kind of book this is.
The edges are a little darker than the centre, bringing the eye inward toward the important parts, like the author name and title. The fonts puts emphasis on important words with use of scale and simply font choices. The cursive, softer font is used on short, familiar words that the eye tends to read quickly, but adds a gentleness to the cover.
And in this cover, we have depth added from the waterline, which just makes it more interesting to look at and gives what some people refer to as that “pop” a cover has.
This cover is (IMO) perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
You should definitely check out Anna’s work here because it is all terrific and Anna is very talented. You can find her work HERE.
What don’t you want to see on an author’s request sheet for a cover?
Sometimes there are covers that aren’t the right fit for me as a designer, and I always feel bad telling that to authors because it does make me wish I could do everything.
There are certain types of illustrative work I can’t do, certain needed stock photos that are a must that I know I can’t source, or certain styles of design that just really aren’t me. I’ve been told sometimes that someone can easily pick out a cover I’ve designed, and finding that specific look is incredibly important to my brand as a designer, because people hire me for that specific style I have. Trying to mimic another designer’s style would be incredibly difficult and I don’t think it would result in myself or the author being completely happy with the find product.
So basically if the request links to a lot of illustrative covers or they say they want an illustrated cover, I have to ask if they’re open to a non-illustrative cover, or I unfortunately have to decline the project.
How can authors make the process easier for you?
This one’s kind of hard because I honestly am so lucky and work with the best, kindest authors.
Being clear with what you’re looking for at the start really helps. Visual examples are also really helpful, especially if you can tell me specific things you like about the design.
Oh! And very importantly, especially if we’ve never worked together before, please look at my portfolio. I do have a distinct “style” to my designs (like most designers) that some people don’t love, which I completely understand. But looking at my portfolio (or any designer’s portfolio first) and making sure the cover you want is in that style they’re able to provide you is really important. It’s always difficult when authors want to hire me for a project but nothing in my body of work is the style of what they’re looking for.
A big thank you to Natasha Snow. I learnt a lot from reading through her answers.
If you’d like to see more of Ms Snow’s work – CLICK HERE