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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cover Design Class, October 2015

Last month I had the opportunity to teach a class about creating eye-catching book covers for the Northwest Writers Retreat (ANWA,
It was a great experience for me to share some tips that I have learned and to help authors who are self publishing to create book covers that will bring readers in!!
I would like to share a few points from my class so that anyone can learn what works (and what doesn't) for their own book covers.

Tip One: EVERYONE judges a book by it's cover. It just happens. Some covers will catch your eye and draw you in, others you will simply look over because it didn't appeal to your taste. Make sure that you always set a MOOD for you cover. The cover needs to reflect the mood of your book. If it's a romance, choose colors associates with romance- deep, lush colors such as purple, red, even deep greens or blues can work. If you write paranormal then keep the colors dark with stark breaks between colors.
Here is an example of "mood" from an anthology by Xchyler Publishing (
When you look at this cover, you get a good feel by the mood it sets. There are dark colors, with shocking red as contrast. Fonts and images are what make the rest of the mood work. So choose fonts and images that match the color mood you're creating. The distressed title font and the creepy eye in the center gives an overall "feel" for what type of book this is, right?

Tip Two: Give a glimpse into the the story (without giving everything else away). Follow the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW formula. Here is a good example of this:

As you look at this cover, what do you know? Who? A girl, probably a teenager (YA). What? The trees are on fire, so fire in definitely involved! When? It's dark outside, so possibly night time. Where? Looks like it takes place in the forest. Why and How? That's why you read the book! By giving some indication about the story, a reader can determine if it's the type of book for them.

Tip Three: Lets go over titles and images. There are rules to follow to ensure your book cover is successful. First, know your genre. If you write romances, use fonts that are soft and handwritten. If you write non-fiction, use clear, bold fonts and if you write thriller/paranormal, use distressing fonts. Make sure to look at other covers in the same genre. See what tops sellers covers look like. BUT remember, the title of the book should be the largest font. The author name should never over power the title. I know it's AMAZING to see your name up there, but make sure (until you're famous) to keep the author name simple and smaller than the title. Second, images are important. Having a focal point is vital to a good book cover. Most romance novels use couples or a woman on the cover- and will let you know if it's a period piece of not by the way they are dressed. Non-fiction keeps the imagery simple, not to overpower the title, and fantasy books are fun when showing images of another world. Again, check out what other authors are doing. Never copy! But use them as ideas for your own cover, so you know it'll fit in the correct genre. As a side note- be aware of copyright laws. Never used an unauthorized image for your cover. There are many good websites out there that you can pay for the right image.

 Tip Four: Feedback. Yes, it is important to get feedback. But be careful that you aren't just asking close friends and family. They will try to be kind and tell you anything looks great. You need neutral eyes that will be kind but honest. But also remember that if you post it on social media, asking for an opinion, you will get a lot of feedback that can be overwhelming and discouraging. Be selective about who you share the cover with and when you have finished it, post it with pride! Best not to post the final version and then ask "what do you think?" because people will take that opportunity.
Here's a summary of what we've learned today: Mood matters, give a glimpse of your story, titles and fonts make all the difference, and get feedback but not too much! Here is an example how the mood can make all the difference:

Both use the same title but you can see that the colors, fonts, and images make them totally different.

Now that I've briefly gone over the basics, remember that whether you design it yourself or use a professional, this is your book cover. Make sure to have a clear vision of what you want and go for it!

If you are interested in learning more about cover designs, comment below or email me at I am a graphic design coordinator for Xchyler Publishing ( and a freelance graphic designer.

Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 is Making Me OLD!!

As I think about this year, 2015 marks many changes in my life. I feel a theme coming on: "2015, the year I officially become OLD."
One of the biggest changes happened for me already. My oldest child, Kaydin, turned eighteen! I keep thinking back and wondering how eighteen years went by so quickly? It seems like yesterday that he was learning how to walk.
Kaydin has always been a happy, bubbly kid; surrounded by friends. He has beautiful auburn hair that match his deep auburn eyes. From the time he was a toddler, women have been asking me if we dyed his hair.
My little Red Head
His father and I separated before he was born, so I was a single mom for the first four years of his life. Kaydin and I were a team; buddies that did everything together. He is the one that kept me going when I wanted to give up. He saved me on so many levels! To this day we still cuddle and watch movies together. He doesn't seem embarrassed to be seen with me in public, so that's a huge plus!
But now he is an "Adult" by law and I feel like he doesn't need me anymore. I think that's what I struggle with the most. I used to have to write his notes to excuse him from school or take him to appointments. He relied on me to get him through life. It's a strange feeling to be suddenly unneeded. I know, I know, he still needs me. I'll always be his mother, but it won't ever be the same.
The other part of it that I struggle with is Kaydin's father. He passed away when Kaydin was nine. It was a sudden loss, which affected us both. For nine years I've had to make decisions for Kaydin, hoping they were right. Don't get me wrong, my husband is a wonderful support to Kaydin and loves him every bit as much as our other kids; so we parent Kaydin together. But as far as Kaydin's biological parents, I've had to go solo. Would Aladin (yes, that is his real name) be proud of the way I raised Kaydin? I think Kaydin is an amazing young man and I hope his father (watching from afar) believes so too. 
Kaydin and his Dad
This year marks my 20th High School Reunion!! How strange to think I've been out of school for 20 years! It is also the year my son graduates from High School! Wow, the OLD-ness just keeps adding up! 
I plan to attend my reunion in Utah and see old friends and catch up with those I've lost contact with. Because of social media, I've been able to stay in touch with quite a few Miners from the class of 1995, but it will be a bit surreal to see everyone face to face. I know I've changed a lot over the last twenty! Lets just say that High School was an awkward time of life for me!! 
 When I think about the changes happening this year, I also need show a bit of gratitude that I can celebrate these changes. Kaydin is a healthy young man with a bright future ahead of him. He has plans and ideas and I know that he can do whatever he wants if he puts his mind to it.
Turning (cough, cough) 38 isn't the worst thing in the world. I can enjoy a couple more years in my thirties before I officially become old (aka Over the Hill). And I will party like it's 1995 this summer with my fellow classmates and talk about the good times and laugh hard at how we've all changed or stayed the same.
I can't stop time. I can't keep my kids from growing and learning and I can't hold on to them forever either. That's God's plan. Each of us have to learn and grow and make our own choices. I hope that Kaydin will always know that I have his back and and will love him forever.