UPDATE 2019: What was true when I posted this in 2016 no longer applies. Now, because of changes in the market, self-published authors want their covers to look as professional as possible, though, I admit, there are still a few who stand by their guns of wanting the look less than polished.
As many of you know, along with being a professional graphic artist and designer, I’m also an author. I’m friends with quite a few authors. Many of these authors now self-publish and often ask me what I think of this or another cover.
It’s a real disadvantage that I don’t lie well. It’s a huge disadvantage that I do art for a living. Both problems get me into difficult predicaments when I’m asked for feedback on self-made or custom-made covers, especially the self-made ones.
For some reason, self-publishing authors want to create their own covers. While they might grudgingly let someone else do it, secretly, they want to create the whole package themselves. As an author, I understand that; as a professional graphic artist, I’m trepidatious. Here’s why:
- Emotionally, you’re too close to the project;
- You may not have the necessary skills to effectively pull it off.
There is a bigger problem I face as a professional graphic artist doing book covers for self-publishing authors, and small publishers or micro-presses: The client wants it to look unpolished, less than professional. This might sound nuts, but, as one author pointed out, it has to do with stigma–they don’t want to be associated with traditional publishing, so the covers have to look a little less polished. Okay. And we oblige. Usually, that means changing the font, some balance, adjusting the levels, and moving to a different color palette. And that’s about the only difference. In fact, color palette and skilled use of levels are usually the most significant factors that prove the difference between polished and professional-looking versus amateur.
And, no, sorry, I can’t give you any examples, because that would just get a whole bunch of folks angry at me. 😀