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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Rainnie

Judging a book by its cover

We all do it. I thought the first cover I did of my first novel, Spirits of Vengeance: The Stone of Spirits, was amazing. When a small publisher picked it up, they insisted on redesigning the cover. It was so hideous that I battled with them to exit the contract that I had only just signed.

However, this little episode did make me question my own cover. That's when I got serious about learning design techniques and overhauled the covers for the Spirits of Vengeance series. It's also when I started helping other authors with their covers.

Book design covers in 2023

We are finally into the festive season, which tends to be when a lot of my freelance work tends to dwindle. This year I have designed many book covers for clients who have self-published their books. As it is the season for giving and the time of miracles, I thought I'd highlight a few of my favourites to try and bring them some attention, sales and reviews.

I should note, I am not an illustrator. The covers I design use free stock images and fonts to create what I hope is an eye-catching cover for authors who maybe don't have the budget for an illustrated cover. I keep my prices low because I do it more for the creative challenge and to help authors like myself who are driven beyond reason to not only write a book but to have it read.

At Home in the World: Reflections of a Travel Addict
At Home in the World: Reflections of a Travel Addict

Matt is a man after my own heart, someone who loves to travel and see the world. He had lots of images from his travels to use, and we tried a combination of them before arriving at this three-bar design, giving space for the title to breathe and spill over onto the image. I coloured the images to pull out the key colour on each one, giving them a better contrast. There is also a nice reflection of the subtitle in the water

Matt's book has inspired me to revisit my own travelogue, My Right Leg Is Tastier Than My Left, and finally get around to starting a podcast on the subject of travelling the world solo.

At Home in the World: Reflections of a Travel Addict is currently available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

Book cover of One Team by J.R. Rickwood
One Team by J.R. Rickwood

I played around with a few ideas, but kept circling back to something minimalist using the red and white of the England national flag, with the book divided in half like a rugby pitch. This minimalist approach allowed the bold font to really pop off the page. Despite having designed it over the summer, it is still one of my favourites.

One Team: The Paths to Rugby World Cup Glory is available in paperback at Amazon.

Book cover of The Seer Awakening by K.R. Davis
The Seer Awakening by K.R. Davis

This is actually a cover I designed in 2021 along with book 2. The author decided to retitle the books and asked if I could adapt the original cover to match.

I cannot tell you how many variations I made purely around the positioning of 'The'. In the end, I was trying to be too clever, and so I tried aligning it with the 'S' of 'Seer' and it just felt right.

When I was creating the original design, the author wanted an eye or the suggestion of an eye, and I think the shape works really well with the nice sheen of black on gold. If only Amazon did foil book covers!

The Seer Awakening and the sequel, The Seer Debt, are both available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

Book cover of Go With The Unexpected by Tyron Woolfe
Go With The Unexpected by Tyron Woolfe

I've started with a travel book, so I may as well round off this list with another one. This was one of my favourite covers to create as Tyron had so much personality that shone through with the pictures that he shared with me. His is a fascinating story - a gay deaf man in his 40s quitting his life to travel through South America. This was pretty challenging to visually communicate, but Tyron loved one I did in pink so we pushed forward in that direction. I used black, white and yellow to contrast the font, with each word using a different font to follow the theme of 'Unexpected' from the title. I also managed to sneak a picture of the author with a llama in the 'O' along with some Aztec graphics to emphasise the travel theme.

You can get your copy of Go With The Unexpected on Amazon.

And here's one that got away... Little Known Secrets of Storytelling

Every now and then, there are jobs that just don't work out, where the client simply did not like any of the designs and you think it best to part ways. This used to affect me more; I would take it personally. However, over time, I've realized that just like in life, some things simply don't click.

One client recently was looking for a simple eBook cover. He had some ideas about a deserted island or treasure perhaps, but nothing concrete. Here are four of the six designs I shared with him before we mutually agreed to cancel the order.

Given the long title and subtitle, I still think the blank cover with the thin font works perfectly. I should add that the author made me aware that there would be at least five volumes. When I created this one, I imagined the same cover but in five different colours to help link the entire series together, while being distinct from one another.

Do you need a cover?

It would be remiss of me if I didn't link to my Fiverr profile should you need a book cover or any of my other services. I know many authors create covers on Canva or other free sites, but I often find they are squeezed into a template, rather than visually communicating what the book is and who it's for.

Having an eye-catching book cover is vital to selling your book. That's what it says on my profile. But eye-catching doesn't need to be complex. You just need the right font or image, and some time to play with it. If you do decide to design your own cover, don't stop at one. Create 3-5 variants and see which one you like best.

Anyway, I hope this has been a nice insight into my creative process. Please do check out the books from my clients if they are your cup of tea. If you do buy them, be kind and leave a review. Us writers rely on them to find and grow our audience.


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