A World in a Single Frame by Fiona Jayde

Posted on Oct 8, 2015 by   3 Comments | Posted in Blog · Uncategorized

Before I was a cover designer, I was a writer. My spelling sucked, and my editors looooved all the head hopping, but I remember the sheer joy of world building. Really, it was just a way not to do research- why look something up when I can make it up? The details, the descriptions, the reasons behind WHY something was a certain way- I relished all these things.

I understand the love an author feels for worldbuilding details – especially in fantasy and sci fi fiction. So remember that understanding when I say that most of those intricacies won’t matter on a book cover.

Lucas Films All Rights reserved

Lucas Films All Rights reserved

I’ll wait for the virtual tomatoes to fly by  😛 

See here’s the thing: a book cover is a tiny element, and it’s not about details. It’s not supposed to illustrate your story – it’s supposed to let perspective readers know what your story is  about.

Wait, that’s the same thing! Right? Weeeeellll… not really.

You are intimately familiar with your story. But your readers aren’t.

When the first Star Wars came out,  did we care what a Star Destroyer looked like on the poster?  Until we fell for Han, the Falcon could’ve looked like a slice of pizza – and we wouldn’t have known.

We cared about the spaceships – any spaceships, because hey, finally, somebody made a movie about kickass space battles. That’s what drew us. (The girl with the blaster helped too, as did the hunk sporting a six pack and a laser sword). Notice how Leia’s outfit in the original poster didn’t match what she actually wore in the movie?

We can call it sellout to sex appeal, but the marketing department needed a hot girl – and so they got one. Luke never wore his shirt open (and was it ever established if he had the six pack?), but again, nobody seemed to notice, because the poster did what it was supposed to do: communicate in broad generic stokes what the movie was about: handsome guy with a laser sword; sexy lady with a blaster, a villain looking thing; and lost of space battles.

The key to a successful poster – and book cover – is broad generic stokes. Give the readers something they can identify for a specific genre – castle for fantasy, space ship for sci fi and if they look close to how you described them, don’t sweat the details. You’re better off communicating in broad visual keywords what the book is about then worrying about specifics.

I see this a lot of times: authors so in love with their creation that they insist on specific things gracing the cover for their book – regardless if that aspect is visually appealing or marketable to their target audience.

When I was writing I did this too: when I wrote kickass girl superhero in a paranormal romance, I wanted her on the cover, regardless that the current trend for paranormal were sexy men, half the time without faces. (So glad the faces are coming!) I was thinking emotionally when I needed my marketing side to take over.

I needed to remind myself that my book cover isn’t there for me to look at, but there for a reader. One who has no idea what your book is about, whose elusive attention you want that book cover to grab. A reader won’t care if the shade of the twin moons is the correct orange,  or my heroine wouldn’t be looking down or wearing something she doesn’t actually wear in the book .

You definitely  want to get the gist right, but please don’t beat yourself up over the small stuff on the cover,  because readers probably won’t notice it.  Focus instead on communicating genre – stars, space ships, lasers. Gather up all the visual aspects of your book that would entice readers who already love your genre – and focus on having those as large and as eye catching as you can.

Go big… or go home.

More About the Author:

Fiona Jayde is a space pilot, a ninth degree black belt in three styles of martial arts, a computer hacker, a mountain climber, a jazz singer, a weight lifter, a superspy with a talent for languages, and an evil genius. All in her own head.

In life, she is tinkers with images to create cover art for amazing books, possesses a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and blue belt in Aikido, used to be a hot shot web developer, scared to death of heights, loves jazz piano, and can bench-press  20 pounds — with effort. She learned English reading Nora Roberts and watching Growing Pains, and when pried away from her computer, enjoys movies where things frequently blow up.

Don’t Miss Fiona Jayde’s

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3 Responses to "A World in a Single Frame by Fiona Jayde"

  1. Comment by Nancy Lee Badger
    October 10, 2015 8:28 am

    The Star Wars Poster got my attention…now, and then. A book cover has to do the same thing…draw the reader to your work. Do it yourself or hire someone, but your tips are on the nose. Thanks for sharing!

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