Friends Don’t Let Friends Help Design Book Covers by Leia Shaw

As a self-published author, one of the many things I’m responsible for is making my own book covers. Whoever said “don’t judge a book by its cover” was a wonderfully idealistic person whose advice is never followed. People do judge books by their cover so it pays to have a kick ass one. Most people – the smart ones – pay someone to do this.

But my husband is a photoshop wizard. I don’t need to waste money having someone else do it when my very best friend in the whole wide world is so good at it, I naively thought.  What I didn’t foresee was having to bug him to get a project done, putting up with eye rolls when I asked for small changes, and general marital discord. It got annoying so I thought, ambitiously, who needs him anyway? I am smart. I am powerful. I am woman. Now move the fuck out of my way while I call in a professional.

Just kidding.

I begged my super talented awesome husband (yes, he’s reading this) to give me a few lessons. And I watched some online tutorials by a kid who couldn’t be over the age of 12 (an unforeseen blow to my ego). But I figured out enough to pretty much do a cover myself.

I have a new book releasing on Halloween. It’s called The Dom with a Safeword and it’s co-authored with Sorcha Black and Cari Silverwood. The writing itself hadn’t been too frustrating. Sure we’d tossed death threats here and there, name-called a bit when it came to choosing a title, but mostly I adored them and had hardly any urges to physically harm them.

This weekend I made the cover – while Cari and Sorcha spewed super helpful (sometimes unwelcome) advice on facebook chat. My husband started off as moral and sometimes technical support but abandoned me about two hours in. Four hours frustrating hours later, we had a cover.

At the end of that four hours, my face was flushed despite it being cold in the house, I’d bitten off all my nails, my hair was a wreck from trying to pull it out, and I could have, quite possibly, strangled my beloved co-authors. Good thing they live in two different countries.

Here’s one little snippet that demonstrates why I had to smother such violent urges.

Cari: I don’t like the thin font.

Sorcha: no, the thin font doesn’t stand out enough. Try a thicker one, but nothing cartoony.

Leia: All thick fonts are cartoony.

Cari: we need a masculine font

Leia: What the fuck is a masculine font?

Sorcha: yes, a masculine font that’s thick and not cartoony

Leia: grrrrr

Sorcha: and try a brighter color.

Leia: the neon blue isn’t bright enough for you? I can barely look at it without sunglasses

Cari: yes, a font that glows and changes color while blinking that’s also masculine but thick and not cartoony

Leia: *shops for discount plane tickets to Australia and Canada while packing a suitcase full of weaponry*

You see my frustration? This is how photographers feel when their 300 pound client comes in and says, make me look skinny.

I can’t just DO anything you want. There are limitations. I am not a magic genie. I don’t have a Harry Potter wand. If I did, I would send my patronous to kick your ass. Expecto patronum!

That being said, book covers are important. Very, very – and I can’t stress this enough for self published authors – important. A cover needs to be visually appealing, professional, something that stands out but also gives a clear idea of the type of book the reader is buying. It’s a tall order, especially when it comes to romance and erotic books as the market is saturated. Luckily, there are a lot of bad covers so hopefully ours stands out. And my advice to self-pubbers – if you can’t produce a cover that can be compared to a professional one then hire someone to do it. It’s worth the cost.

And the next time I make a cover for any co-authored book, we’re video chatting through all four hours. With Celine Dion playing in the background. If I’m in misery, they are too.

In case you’re wondering, here’s the final product.



About Susan Hanniford Crowley

Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, and Science Fiction Author
This entry was posted in romance and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Friends Don’t Let Friends Help Design Book Covers by Leia Shaw

  1. jessmittens says:

    The cover looks good! I enjoy the wit in this post, congratulations on surviving the making of the cover.

  2. Daryl Devore says:

    First off – I love the cover. Excellent job. Secondly – there are no discount flights to Canada.

  3. Ana says:

    LOL! Love this. Really made me think twice about asking a friend to help me with a cover design, and that is probably a good thing. 🙂

    • Leia Shaw says:

      it’s good to get a couple objective view points. maybe just not ones who are so opinionated. plus it’s different when it’s their book too.

  4. It looks great for all your trouble! I do my own covers too and while it takes me forever to put one together. Can’t even imagine trying to do it with input from others!

    • Leia Shaw says:

      yes, like i said to Ana. it’s good to get an overall opinion or two, just harder when said opinions are equally invested in the project but have no clue about photoshop. lol.

  5. maw25 says:

    I love the cover. I can’t imagine trying to figure out a cover all on my own much less with two other people. 🙂


  6. Mirriam Smyth says:

    LMAO oh my god your conversation is hilarious! Thank God I’m not creative WHATsoever so I don’t have to deal with conversations like that. But the cover really is beautiful.

    Even if the font doesn’t glow or change colors 😉

  7. Pingback: Meet Cover Artist Rebecca Young « Maria Grace

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