Monday, 18 April 2016

Peeking Under the Covers - Part 2 (plus giveaway)

By Andrea Grigg

Last week I introduced my graphic designer daughter, Melissa Dalley, and we discussed the essentials of cover design and gave reasons why it’s a good idea to employ a professional to create your book cover. If you missed it and would like to read it, please click here.
This week, I’m asking Mel questions on the subject of designing your own cover. A number of our ACW members raised some very good questions, and we’ll do our best to answer them today.
First of all, I have a question of my own.

Me: Which rookie errors stand out the most?

Mel: That’s an easy answer. Fonts and their colour choices, and balance.

Me: Okay, so could you please expand on those?

Mel: Sure. As far as fonts are concerned, don’t use what’s automatically on your computer. It’s quite limiting and it shows.

Second, make sure you know which style fits with your genre. Swirly and flirty is great for romance. There are many modern styles available for non-fiction and Young Adult (again, depending on the genre), and some great creepy styles for mysteries etc.

Third, be aware that some fonts come with copyright issues. However, you can purchase fonts for use, often between $5-$500, (similar to images), and this gives you the legal right to use them.

I mostly use for purchase but there are Royalty Free and free fonts all over the internet. (Be aware the free types aren’t always that great – they can be cheap-looking). The most important thing is to read all the licensing and understand what the fine print means.

As far as balance goes, the text shouldn’t be too heavily positioned on one side, nor should the imagery. Balance is also about the reader not having to turn their head to see something. Sometimes it can be an automatic reaction and we want to avoid that!
Me: Great advice. Now, what can you tell us about images?

Mel: Obviously, the image you use must fit your genre. I generally buy images from Shutterstock and iStock. Their imagery is licensed for use on book covers. Again, the fine print must be read.

In my opinion, Photoshop is the best software for editing imagery and Adobe Suite is the best program for designing and editing for book cover design and imagery editing. It gives you more control and helps make sure your work is up to speed for printing specs. Someone asked about Gimp, but I’m afraid I don’t know anything about it.

If you intend using a photographer for a custom photo, you need to brief him/her as you would if a designer was creating your cover. Remember to ask about their rights for reproducing and marketing their shots.

A logo is another form of imagery used on a cover. I recommend a designer to create one of these as they can be tricky, especially when used on a spine. Again, give the designer a well thought out brief, and include examples of logos you’ve seen and liked.

Me: Melissa, thank you for coming back a second time and answering more of our questions.

Mel: My pleasure!

Me: And I’m very happy to announce that Melissa has offered to design an e-book cover for one of our members for free!

To enter the draw, post the following in the comments on our ACW Facebook group, under the promotion of today’s blogpost:
1.    Provide an image of a cover you love
2.    Explain why it appeals to you, using two of the principles mentioned in the Peeking Under the Covers posts.

NB: The winner must agree to provide a stock image, and complete Mel’s questions on the design specs. Once Mel has completed the design, the winner may request up to three alterations. 

The winner will be announced on Friday on the ACW Facebook group.

Andrea Grigg is the author of two contemporary Christian romances, A Simple Mistake and Too Pretty. She loves hearing from readers and writers alike, and can be contacted via Twitter, @andreagrigg, her Facebook author page, and via email: andreagrigg(at)live(dot)com


Melissa Dalley has a degree in Marketing and eCommerce, and a diploma in Graphic Design and PrePress. She works as a Creative Design Manager for a well-known shopping centre group, is on the board for a charity as their marketing and creative adviser, and freelances designs for authors and small businesses. 
You may contact her via email at: melissadalley(at)live(dot)com


  1. Thanks again Mel and Andrea for an informative post :) Great comp.

  2. Very useful tips. Thank you!

  3. Well done on 2 very informative posts, Andrea & Mel. And Mel thank you for offering your services to one lucky author.

  4. Thanks for another great post, Andrea and Mel, and thanks for the offer. I can't possibly pick one favourite cover, but you'll see my choice over on the ACW Facebook page.

    1. You're welcome, Iola. And I like your choice :)


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.