For those who do their own cover art,

LWFlouisa

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What do you emphasize the most when it comes to designing them? Character, themes, setting?

Currently the art I have up is placeholder until I can figure out what would best represent my work. Generally statements like "you should have cover art that represents your genre" aren't super useful to me, especially if you're unsure ( other than maybe dystopia ) is your exact genre.

Do you just draw what most approximates your story? Or is it more like a book title in visual form?

I'm not wanting to design anything fancy, just something vaguely web novel esque.
 

tiaf

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Image wise, I choose something pleasing to the eyes, mostly the characters. (I'm just not good with anything but humans)

Besides that, I think an image of a key scene or something symbolic (place, object, flower...), that connects to the story, would be good.

Sometimes I see covers with just a title, which is absolutely fine too, but only if it's done right. A random font and not formatted in the slightest, feels very half-hearted to me. I don't want to even click on such stories. We are authors and nobody expects us to be artists too, but everyone can sit down to make it look at least neat with word/docs.
 

javert

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I honestly don't know. I just draw what I feel like, and switch it up when I get bored of it. For my current story, I've gone through three different cover designs that I've made.


I don't know if any of them are actually successful as cover images, but they each have their own charms I think, and they were fun to make.
 

LWFlouisa

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I honestly don't know. I just draw what I feel like, and switch it up when I get bored of it. For my current story, I've gone through three different cover designs that I've made.


I don't know if any of them are actually successful as cover images, but they each have their own charms I think, and they were fun to make.
These are quite amazing!
 

Luneder

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Just to throw an observation out there fantasy and scifi tend to use scenes from the novel that may or may not have a character in it. Romance, mystery, and real world settings tend to use themes for implied content like a bloody knife could suggest a dark romance, a murder mystery, or cloak and dagger politics.

Japanese novels like to use illustrations of characters from the novel. Chinese use stock images so what is on the cover might have no relation with the novel. Korean covers have a mix of Japanese and Western style covers so they can either be depictions of the main character, a scene, or implied content through objects.
 

LWFlouisa

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Just to throw an observation out there fantasy and scifi tend to use scenes from the novel that may or may not have a character in it. Romance, mystery, and real world settings tend to use themes for implied content like a bloody knife could suggest a dark romance, a murder mystery, or cloak and dagger politics.

Japanese novels like to use illustrations of characters from the novel. Chinese use stock images so what is on the cover might have no relation with the novel. Korean covers have a mix of Japanese and Western style covers so they can either be depictions of the main character, a scene, or implied content through objects.
Ah I wonder if that's why I got a mixed reception in LitRPG circles? I was doing poorly, until I drew a cover with a MC in it, but not necessarily a soon from the book.

In my specific case, I'm kind of wanting to imply the dystopian setting through run down furniture. Think less The Scrapyard, or more micro details, like furniture that's been worn out. Also the main character is present in some way. This is where I usually run into trouble: Young Nadine looks younger than older Nadine.

So then it means having to decide whether I want to focus on adult or young adult market. Or if I emphasize the beginning of the book, maybe a picture of a guillotine in a modern town square.
 

BenJepheneT

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What I'd do is grab the general idea of my story and put it on paper the best I can.

Don't base it on your genre. Rather, have it cause intrigue and interest. Instead of a generic anime chick (unless your story warrants it), put up an unorthodox picture. Maybe you could paste a book cover in a book cover, or half a face, or maybe a dead body having a drink. Have it as weird as it may seem but make it so that when the readers reads it, they could link the cover to the story.

Works, on paper. I'm not sure how on execution, though.
 

Llamadragon

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My rule of thumb is to squeeze in as many core elements as possible.

For example, I'm currently writing a story about a spider mage, chasing some lost books over the lands. A cover with one element would be just the spider, or just the books. Two elements could be the spider casting a fireball or reading books. Three elements could be the spider reading a book in the light of the fireball she's casting. Four elements could be all of the latter but with the spider being held in a hand or with a person lazying around on the desk behind it, or perhaps a looming vacuum cleaner in the background if I'd rather go with the horror element than peaceful slice of life.

If you just want an image, I'd go with a landscape that matches the feel of the story. Sci-fi could mean any number of moods. Apocalyptic dystopian, happy steam-punkish colorful stuff, the Jetsons... get the setting and the mood and it'll be a pretty good cover.
 

tak

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"Can people read the title?"

Thumbnails is small so i gotta check if it's readable on that size. But i'm too lazy to check the mobile version.
I think @javert covers are amazing. my fav are: #2 for webnovel (big letters!), #1 for shiny printed book & #3 for matte printed book.
 

LWFlouisa

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Yea when I was sketching these, I had to ramp up the volume size a little bit to make sure it's visible.
 

Ai-chan

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What do you emphasize the most when it comes to designing them? Character, themes, setting?

Currently the art I have up is placeholder until I can figure out what would best represent my work. Generally statements like "you should have cover art that represents your genre" aren't super useful to me, especially if you're unsure ( other than maybe dystopia ) is your exact genre.

Do you just draw what most approximates your story? Or is it more like a book title in visual form?

I'm not wanting to design anything fancy, just something vaguely web novel esque.
Mostly whether or not it suits the atmosphere of the story. Ai-chan's novel The Hounds of Hell was made to emphasize the bleakness and hopelessness of the setting in which they're transported just to die.

But for more lighthearted ones, Ai-chan prefers for that one cover to be descriptive of the entire story.
 

LWFlouisa

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Mostly whether or not it suits the atmosphere of the story. Ai-chan's novel The Hounds of Hell was made to emphasize the bleakness and hopelessness of the setting in which they're transported just to die.

But for more lighthearted ones, Ai-chan prefers for that one cover to be descriptive of the entire story.
The Hounds Of Hell sounds awesome. Reminds me of the stuff I read as a teenager.
 

CoolGuy

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Covers show the theme of the story, sure, but they are also the first impression people get of your work (Along with the title, of course.) You shouldn't make a cover just for the sake of having cool art. Try to use some graphic design to make it stand out from the other covers (Example: Use a bright colored cover when other people use dark covers). It should be eye-catching and just as interesting as the title and synopsis.

And sometimes less is more. When everyone is trying to put in these cool, professional looking covers, a crude doodle will do well to draw people's attention.
 

Sinpathy

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Font, contrast and white/black space mostly. But of course you can swap things out for each volume so it fits the theme. For example, red for a central plot on vampires. Blue for ghosts. Green for... idk, plant monsters.

But I also feel drawing out characters, or core ones at least in your cover helps sell it too. You can see that this is the case for most high-rated KR novels on NU.
 

Yorda

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I did my best to make a bold illustration and use colors that contrasted well and stood out. Essentially, the illustrations are the first thing anyone sees when they start reading my story on scribblehub, even before the synopsis and title. So it should sorta stand out so that it tempts people to click on it from Novelupdates.com and the Scribblehub homepage. Having no illustration or a bad illustration will not do the author much good. The illustration (clickbait) may actually be responsible for a huge percentage of views.

I've seen a lot of really nice illustrations that look downright professional, but they are not good for scribblehub due to one problem. Scribblehub and novelupdates don't use the full size illustration, they only show readers a scaled down version. So if the illustration has a lot of small details and the colours don't contrast enough (everything is sorta the same hue and shade) then readers can't see any of it. All those details go to waste and end up looking bad. That's why I made my illustration simple, red black and white colors highly contrast, the focus of my illustration is bold and large.

As for what your illustration should be ... well of course it should have something major to do with your story. Maybe a key item from the story, an important character or a few large enough to be seen on the illustration. Maybe you could have a metaphorical representation of something from your story on the illustration.

If you're going to include your title on your illustration make sure it's big and bold otherwise, once again, it will not be seen on the small sized thumbnails. I also put my name on the front just because I wanted to.

My illustration took me two full days with gimp and a mouse. I never did a digital illustration before so I was struggling pretty hard. I clicked that mouse until I was sick of it.

Finished Title Page 1.jpg
 

BenJepheneT

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I did my best to make a bold illustration and use colors that contrasted well and stood out. Essentially, the illustrations are the first thing anyone sees when they start reading my story on scribblehub, even before the synopsis and title. So it should sorta stand out so that it tempts people to click on it from Novelupdates.com and the Scribblehub homepage. Having no illustration or a bad illustration will not do the author much good. The illustration (clickbait) may actually be responsible for a huge percentage of views.

I've seen a lot of really nice illustrations that look downright professional, but they are not good for scribblehub due to one problem. Scribblehub and novelupdates don't use the full size illustration, they only show readers a scaled down version. So if the illustration has a lot of small details and the colours don't contrast enough (everything is sorta the same hue and shade) then readers can't see any of it. All those details go to waste and end up looking bad. That's why I made my illustration simple, red black and white colors highly contrast, the focus of my illustration is bold and large.

As for what your illustration should be ... well of course it should have something major to do with your story. Maybe a key item from the story, an important character or a few large enough to be seen on the illustration. Maybe you could have a metaphorical representation of something from your story on the illustration.

If you're going to include your title on your illustration make sure it's big and bold otherwise, once again, it will not be seen on the small sized thumbnails. I also put my name on the front just because I wanted to.

My illustration took me two full days with gimp and a mouse. I never did a digital illustration before so I was struggling pretty hard. I clicked that mouse until I was sick of it.

damn it you're just flexing at this point
 

Yorda

Villainess Yorda the Elegant Flower of Evil
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damn it you're just flexing at this point
Plebs.
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Ugh. I nearly flexed too hard there. Something almost happened.
 
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