7 Questions With Book Cover Designer Mia @LKJ Covers
LKJ Covers is a party of one who goes by LKJ or Mia in equal turns. She’s been creating cover art since she was six. It was on yellow lined paper and little more than a cloud with the word ‘poof!’ inside, but we’re not judging. She was six. These days, her work is a little more extensive as she creates covers on the computer for self-published authors in all genres.
For the ones of you who are new to my blog, I’m Esther Rabbit, writer, content creator for authors and massive nerd. If you’re interested to know all the tips & tricks surrounding the process From Writing To Publishing Your Novel, you’re only a click away. For writing and marketing tips consider subscribing to my YouTube Channel.
What types of design do you offer and how can an author benefit from your skills?
LKJ Covers: I try to offer what my authors need. These days, I do a lot of covers merging 3D images (created in a modeling program) with photographic manipulation. While a 3D render of a person might look a little different than a photograph, it offers a lot more flexibility in terms of poses, clothing, attributes, etc.,
I’ve done object covers and person-focused covers, and I’ve done many different genres, even some non-fiction covers. Every author’s needs and every book are different, and I do my best to suit what the author wants. Everything and everyone has limits, of course, but I try to make sure we end up with something the author and I are both happy with.
What would you do if you wouldn’t be creating digital magic?
LKJ Covers: Honestly? I’m already doing it! I’m a pretty diversified girl. In addition to doing cover art and promotional graphics, I work broadly across the self-publishing community. I write, I edit, and I format (typeset) books. Editing seems to be the job that takes the most time, but the ‘digital magic’ is what I enjoy the most!
“Don’t judge a book by its cover”… but we all do. What are some attributes of an attractive cover?
LKJ Covers: Honestly, it’s pretty much impossible to not judge a book by the cover. If you’re browsing at the bookstore or looking at things on Amazon, you can’t stand in the aisle and read three hundred pages before making a decision! “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is pretty much in direct opposition to “first impressions matter,” because the cover IS your first impression.
We all do it. We look at the cover and if it looks good to us, only then do we read the description and maybe the first few lines to see if we want to read further.
So, what makes a good first impression? It really is different for everyone, but I think color, by and large, draws the eye. Rich and vibrant. It doesn’t necessarily have to be bright, but not washed-out. After that, good contrast—light and dark. I find this seems especially true for fantasy, scifi, and urban fantasy. If the color scheme is simple, then the contrast becomes more important. It needs to stand out rather than blend in.
After that, a cover that looks like things are blended well together. We often obviously know that it’s not a photo of a man standing in front of a planet, for example, but if the lighting and coloring and shading all looks right, we can suspend that disbelief and enjoy the image. When it looks too “choppy,” then it starts to lose us.
What’s an approximate price authors would pay upon hiring your service?
LKJ Covers: For a cover, the average is somewhere between $75 and $150, depending on what you’re after. I have several “pre-made” covers available for $75, where the image is basically set with just text to be changed. These are what I do when I just want to make pretty pictures but don’t presently have anyone hiring me to make one, haha.
Original cover art, where I work with the author to their particular vision, will range up toward $150 since it obviously takes more time and effort.
How many services can you offer authors and how do they differ?
LKJ Covers: There’s a lot you can do with images, and I try to offer the range. Not only do I offer regular digital cover art—the rectangle image you see that’s just the front cover—but I can do print versions that are full wraparound images and include the spine and back cover, but also audiobook adjustments, which have their own size and requirements.
Beyond that, I offer different promotional images, such as bookmarks and business cards, or I can do images for quote art. (Which are the pictures where you put a quote from the book on it that can be shared on your social media or during blog tours.) If you want “character art,” I can also do custom character creation that is just the face/body.
There’s all sorts of ways that digital media can help a book!
What’s your favorite genre as a reader?
LKJ Covers: Honestly? It seems to depend on the day! I guess above all, “dark” fantasy will always be the top of my list—such as Joe Abercrombie—but I will read almost anything and enjoy it based on the writing, characters, and story itself rather than the genre. I’ve read epic fantasy, scifi, urban fantasy, modern thriller, science/medical thriller, classics, romance, erotica, literary… Name it and I’ve probably read it, and can probably tell you a book I enjoyed. I do tend to prefer fiction over non-fiction, though.
How long does it normally take to deliver a finished book cover design?
LKJ Covers: It depends on the complexity of the cover, really. For some, I might be able to put it together in a day, send it to the author and they’re happy with it. Sometimes, we might go back and forth several times to tweak or make changes until we’re both satisfied. And a cover with more elements will take longer than something that’s simpler.
Find LKJ Covers here
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