Saturday, June 25, 2011

On Covers

Covers. It's the thing that makes people take a second look at your book. I've seen some great ones, and some pretty bad ones. With the rise in ebooks I'm told that a lot of the intricate paintings that used to grace book jackets are going away in favor of a minimalist image. One striking feature and some big text.

It makes me sad, I know LP's used to be a great canvas for art, and CD's did a lot of damage to that - then the iPod sized covers forced more changes to how covers were done. I suppose it was inevitable that it would happen to books too.

But, while day I work for the man, by night, I write crappy fiction that no one ever sees, and now, by nightier night I guess I'm an amateur graphic artist. I wanna do book covers.

So, anyone need one?

Here are some I've done in the past, both real and fake *edit* I mean, real and fake books, in case that was ambigous:

Fake: But based on a story I wrote
Real: But not for sale
Real: For sale, but no one will buy it
No promises of greatness, and I can't do anything you dream up. But I'd like to give it a shot, practice for myself should I take that plunge and self pub something in the future.



Rogue Mutt said...

I might need one in the future, not sure. But even big-published books don't use much art anymore. Just look at the Twilight ones. For literary books it's just take a photo of someone's feet or something and put some text on it. For mine I used a stock photo of a window and desk and put my text over it. If you have PhotoShop it's pretty easy to do.

Andrew said...

Actually, yeah, I need a cover for The House on the Corner. For the new edition. I've been kind of agonizing over this for a while.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Did the first one! I can only imagine what you would do for my 'Untitled.' (I really hope my second cover rocks as much as the first one.)
Never thought about the shrinking art, but you're right. I have some framed album covers on my walls because the artwork was amazing. Bands like Yes always featured awesome art. Many of the European prog rock bands still have cool artwork, which gives me hope.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

DIG the first one, not DID. Damn, that's why I needed critiqu partners!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Now the critique is missing an 'e.' I give up!

KarenG said...

Please email me at with your pricing list!

Anonymous said...

Awesome book covers! I love to graphic design, too, book covers are always fun to make.

Michael Offutt said...

I personally have not been a fan of art on the covers of book. Don't get me wrong...there have been some great ones coming from the likes of Michael Whelan. However, the artist has to compromise on his art to get it to fit on a cover. He has to make room for the title and for the author's name which usually means adding a whole lot of sky and/or background that really shouldn't have been part of the original painting. Even Michael Whelan has commented on this in his books (which I collected over the years).

I think that there are better ways to include art in books...interior art is an example. A wall calendar that celebrates the art of say a particular book or series. A book of artwork or a website dedicated to said work. Or God forbid...actual paintings that go into frames.

Matthew MacNish said...

You're pretty good at this Rusty. I especially like that first one.

M.J. Fifield said...

These are all great covers. I really love the last one. I don't know why no one will buy it. If I had a book for which that would work, I'd buy it.

ali said...

These are great! And I'm here from Alex's blog ~ great post over there! Happy to meet you, too :)

Milo James Fowler said...

Great work! Not at all like the covers on most of the self-pubbed stuff on Smashwords/Amazon. These actually look artistic. Unfortunately, I often judge a book by its cover -- and I might be looking for a "dark, weird western" cover in the near future. I plan to collect some of my published short stories in an eBook anthology next year.

Rusty Webb said...

Sigh. I can't even comment without screwing things up. So sad. I'll try again.

Rogue - Yeah, sorta sad I think. I've seen a few of those 'barely anything there' covers I like, but not many. Just slap a photo of some feet, or a girl in a sundress with her head out of frame and you've got a dandy literary cover. But even doing that sort of stuff well is challenging.

Andrew - Hang in there then, I'll see if I can find some contact info on your blog, I'll help if you want me to.

Alex - thanks for reintroducing me to snot bubbles, haven't had those in a long time. I even woke my wife up laughing at your comment last night.

Karen - email is on its way.

Madeline - very cool. It is very therapeutic - even if I don't always get the results I want.

Mike - Most book covers are commissioned, I think, so the artist knows his or her boundaries from the beginning and can work around them. Something truly beautiful does need it's own forum to really be appreciated. I can loose myself over at Deviant Art or (I forget the name, but another similar site) by the beauty of what is produced.

I still want to see it on my book though. If I read a moving, or awe inspiring passage, I'll flip to the book cover and see if anything I just read was captured. I feel cheated if the cover is a candle flame and a speckle of blood. It gives me nothing.

Matthew - thanks, the first one is more the type I like to do, the second was for a family history and I was constrained by the subject matter,and the other was commissioned, sort of, and had to go through an approval process. Early versions were rejected and I had to redo it.

I did like that process though.

M.J. - I don't know why no one wants to by the book either. Be sure to pick up a copy - there's a link on the side of the page.

Just kidding.

ali - Good to meet you, thanks for stopping by.

Milo - I've seen some amazing self-pubbed covers too. The quality is all over the place. Thanks for the compliment though, I can never get enough. If you think of needing help with a cover in the future, be sure to let me know.

Lynda R Young said...

Great samples of book art. It IS a shame book covers are becoming more simple, but they are no less important, I think.

Pk Hrezo said...

Hey Rusty! Hopped over from Alex's blog. Nice work on the covers! I'll keep you in mind. And I think it's an awesome endeavor!

Nice to meet you! :)

Pk Hrezo said...

BTW You have the best blog name EVER!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Your covers look great. If I didn't have a graphic artist niece who works really cheap, I would ask you for some help.

Theres just life said...

I am another one who misses the Album art. There was some great ones. Peter Max did some as well.
I am attracted to a book by its cover...I know, I know...never judge a book by it's cover....But I cant help it. I am a very visual person. I love a good book and I have probably missed out on a number of them. But unless I recognize the name it is the cover that hooks me in.

Oh I came over by way of Alex as well.

Pamela Jo

Briane P said...

I would LOVE for you to design covers. Do you charge? email me at thetroublewithroy[at] Put "cover design" or something in the subject line so I know it's not spam.

I also like your blog's name.

Rusty Webb said...

Lynda - it is a shame, but your right, they still are the single biggest reason a person will pick up a book... or click on one.

Pk - Thank you, I'll be around. And I'm glad you like the name.

Susan - thanks for the compliment, much appreciated.

Life - I'm glad you stopped by, albums are finding a real niche again, so who knows, maybe the awesome album art will be making a comeback.

Briane - No charge, I'll send you an email.