Did you know I write a whole other blog about author graphics? I'm no expert, but I wanted to help other people with graphics. If you need to make graphics for work or play, you might find some helpful suggestions. And I try to make it amusing too! You can check my graphics blog out here. Today, I'm doing a cross-post with my graphics blog because I thought my readers might find the design process interesting and there are giveaways to be had!
Okay, on to today's topic: book covers. I don't do my own covers. Covers are too important to sales for me to fool around with them, so I hire a designer. However, smart authors save money when they can, so I do design my own covers when it comes to freebies.
If you've signed up for my mailing list, you receive a free short story entitled Sunny Side. It's part of the Vancouver Vice hockey series and the cover looks like this:
The impetus for this cover was finding the perfect photo. I've already gone off about having to find mixed race people in stock photos, so I'll get off that soapbox. I needed a geeky half-Chinese guy and a blonde woman. Close enough. Download that sucker. I experimented with a colour version, but went with the black and white so I could pop the graphic text.
If I was smart, I would have done a cover that looks like the rest of the Vancouver Vice series. But I don't have the title font that my designer uses, and she does complicated things with bokeh backgrounds that I can't handle. I did maintain a similar font for my author name. Knowing your limitations means I make the best covers I can with my skill set. This is the smart thinking that keeps me from doing whatever new physical thing my friends suggest. Zip-lining, nope. 10K, ha. Afternoon tea, let's do it.
Recently, I discovered that I hadn't done new covers for the free short stories which connect my trilogy, Hockey Is My Boyfriend. And you know what that means? Mel gets to make new covers!
This is one of the existing covers for the short stories. In fact, this is what all my covers looked like before I started using a cover designer, except not always with cake. Sometimes I used flowers, cookies, or shocker: a cat. Perhaps it looks more like a cookbook, but there is hockey stick wallpaper! Early self-publishing Mel had much to learn. Although early self-publishing Mel made money on the first sale as she had zero expenses to earn out.
You know my drill already. Go to Deposit Photos to look for appropriate photos. Curse at the paucity of half-Asian models. Find photos. In this case, hit the gold mine of time saving and find two photos from the same photo shoot. My characters are the same in both stories, so they can look the same. Woo hoo. Do celebration dance. Cats join in.
Put photos into Canva. Now what I do is fool around a lot with the photos and their placement. Here is the original photo. Hot, right? Is it just me or does this guy look like Carey Price?
Covers have set proportions and you have to stretch your image to meet those proportions, and then you can move them around. Ideally, you want to have blank areas where you can put your title and author name. In this case, the sheets made a nice blank space, but I'm not too keen on the distracting side boob. So, I went in closer. I usually alternate adding text and moving the photo around. In addition, try to make your text mimic the photo in some way. The word "Kelly" is on the same angle as her spaghetti strap. Now the text really emphasizes the kiss. Phew, my Carey Price fantasies are in overdrive right now. But he's a cowboy and I'm a city girl, so it can't work. Not to mention his lovely wife and my lovely husband.
My other cover is the same process, except this time the photo I wanted was in colour, so I transformed it to black and white. To be honest, I can see that an original black and white photo is better than one that I converted with the Street filter, but having a colour photo around will be nice for making teasers... or just for a Carey Price screensaver.
And, voila... new covers for the freebies.
Hey, what about those freebies, Mel?
Okay, if you'd like to read about a half-Chinese guy who works at a tech start-up, a blonde hockey fan, and a dating app—you can sign up for my newsletter here and get Sunny Side free. Talk about multi-tasking.
And if you've already read the Hockey Is My Boyfriend series, and you're thinking, "WTF, Mel, where have you been hiding these connecting stories?" here's the down-low. My box set, Hockey Is My Boyfriend, The Complete Series, has all the books including the short stories. So if you're on Kindle Unlimited, you can read them now and I'll get paid. Lovely. Off you go.
When I was writing the HIMB books, it took a long time. Way longer than I thought, which happens every freaking book. Readers were emailing me to ask when the next book was coming, so in the meantime I sent out the connecting stories to everyone on my mailing list. But I never published them. Here's the order of the series—now with short stories!
- Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part One
- French Kiss (It's Kelly and Phil! In Montréal!)
- Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part Two
- Happy Birthday, Kelly (Kelly gets two very unexpected birthday gifts.)
- Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part Three
If you're not on KU and you'd like to read the short stories too, just hit the titles above and you'll get a free download. With love, from me.
Comments? Questions? Write them below!