Sunday, April 14, 2013

Meet my eBook Cover Designer, Torrie Cooney!


Meet eBook Cover Designer Ninja, Torrie Cooney!
Hardly a week goes by without someone reaching out to me to compliment the covers for Live and Let Die and the forthcoming, Sweet Little Lies.” I can’t take any of the credit. My bad-ass Ninja cover designer, Torrie Cooney, is the brains and talent behind my cover operations.

We can try and deny it, but the truth is, we DO judge a book by its cover. This is becoming particularly prevalent as indie/self-published books take on more prominence. As an indie author, the last thing you want is a book cover that screams “self-published,” i.e. amateurish at best, laughably bad at worst. The potential reader figures, “Well, the cover looks like crap, so the book is probably crap, too.”And they’re moving on to the book with the professional looking cover.

When I arrived at the “cover design” phase of “Live and Let Die,” I had the option of doing it myself (speaking of laughter, I just laughed so hard at that thought, I fell out of my chair) or finding a designer.

I know my limitations, so choice B it was.

I hunted high and low for an E-book cover designer. I either wasn’t crazy about their work, they never responded to my email requests for a price quote and other assorted questions or they were way out of my price range. Compounding my issue, I wanted a designer that would not only help me realize the vision I had for the cover of “Live and Let Die,” but someone who could help me brand subsequent titles; while my books are standalone and not a series, I still wanted the covers to be recognizable as a “Bianca Sloane book.”

An answer to my prayers came when I discovered Torrie getting big ups on the Amazon forums for her work. I loved her samples, her prices were amazing and she got back to me right away, answering all of my nagging questions.

Awesome out of the gate.

I’ve asked Torrie to share her insights on designing book covers (and also so I can lavish praise upon her) and what authors should expect during the design process.

First, let me say, you did an amazing job on my covers for "Live and Let Die," and "Sweet Little Lies." They're both beautiful.
Thank you! I really enjoyed working with you on both those projects.

What's your design background?
Art has always been a part of my life. My mom sold western/wildlife art at bazaars and in small shops. My dad was very talented in leatherwork. I began drawing/creating things at a very early age... but like I say in the "Meet Torrie" section on my blog, I'm a graphic designer/photographer trapped in a self-taught computer geek's body. Meaning, unless you count a short day course on creating eye-catching advertisements and a couple of basic drawing classes during my one year in college, I have no formal design education.
I was lucky enough to use some of my creativity at a former workplace by designing logos, creating print advertisements and publishing a small newsletter, but I continue to push myself to learn new things on my own, just because I truly enjoy it.

What made you decide to start designing eBook covers?
A good friend of mine, who recently began self-publishing, suggested it and one thing led to another...

Torrie can design, "To Be Revealed" covers to whet readers' appetite
 
Do you specialize in a genre and if not, is it difficult to "switch gears?"
No specific genre, yet.  It seems that I will pretty much tackle anything you can throw at me, which, so far, I have found to be a fun and interesting challenge. I think the process of starting a cover design, gathering the information and searching through stock images (and creating the right music playlist, of course), sets the mood easily enough that I usually don't have a problem changing directions.

What information should authors have when they approach you to design their covers?
This list seems to grow as I go along... but a good start is the blurb or a plot synopsis to get a feel for the mood they want the cover to set. From there, elements they would like to see included and those they want to avoid (such as defining elements like hair color, eye color, etc.) colors, likes and dislikes. Providing me with stock images they like the look of is also helpful, although I may not be able to use it. Although I may not be able to use a particular image, it gives me a good idea of what to look for. And on the technical side, what sites they plan to publish on in order for me to provide the correct size/dimensions.

On average, how long does it take for you to design a cover?
Depending on my current workload, it can take me up to a week to get started on the design. Once I begin, usually two days to come up with initial design ideas. From there, it varies with how many revisions an author requests (which, at this time, are unlimited until a final design is accepted.)

What's your price point?
So far, the most popular cover is the single image eBook cover which I currently have priced at $40, plus the cost of the stock images (usually between $5-$20). In addition to eBook covers, I do offer paperback design packages, all of which can be found in the "Pricing" tab on my blog.

What should authors keep in mind during the design process?
We can't read minds... and I'm not sure I would want to – mine is scary enough. The more information I get as to why a design is or isn't going in the right direction, the easier it is for me to find a design that works.

If you ever feel an author is going down the wrong path with the design they want, will you try and steer them in another direction?
I struggle with this. Authors put a lot of time and energy into the pages that are going to be behind the cover.  Novels, whose characters are part of their daily lives, autobiographies where the story IS their life or how-to's that require extensive research and organization of thoughts. The ideas they have in regards to the design may have been forming in their mind for a very long time before they contact me. I try to be respectful of that. I will, however, give my opinion on why I think something works better over something else.

Torrie also has pre-made eBook cover designs available
 
What's been the most challenging part of designing eBook covers?
When what I visualize for a design doesn't match what the author has in mind. Trying to figure out what they are seeing in their head instead of what I see in my own.

What's the biggest mistake authors make with the design or "vision" of their covers?
Probably being too literal. While the genre may have a particular style, as a reader, I don't need to see Professor Plum with the candlestick in the study to know I'm reading a murder mystery, nor do I WANT to see all of that... because there goes the mystery!

I think setting a certain mood, and possibly introducing a key element that makes a reader say, "Hey, I wonder what that's about?" is more important than trying to sum up the plot with a cover image. If the cover can pique enough interest for a reader to pick up the book (or click your thumbnail) then you have your blurb to tell them more and REALLY suck them in. :)

Do authors have misconceptions about their cover design?
So far, I've noticed that getting hung up on something specific can rule out a lot of good possibilities in a design. When searching for stock images that are in the $5-$20 range, it can be challenging to find an image that sets the right mood and still meets all of the requirements an author is looking for. "The image is perfect, but can we make her hat different?" Sometimes, sacrificing a small detail can make a positive difference in overall design.

What's the most fun part for you about designing book covers?
When a design starts to "work." It's not just one or two images sitting on the screen with some text; it's a whole design that works together. Sometimes, it goes in a direction that I didn't even expect; some are crazy bad and others make me stand up and do a happy dance.

Next to that, is working with the authors. Getting to interact with such a variety of people and personalities, some from other countries, has been a lot of fun. Even though I'm happy when we finally come up with a final design, sometimes, I'm sad when it's over!

What's the No. 1 piece of advice you would give an author about how to approach the design process?
Keep an open mind. Clear direction is key, but being too constrictive or specific can limit the possibilities.

Anything you would like to add?
I love that indie authors have these resources to self-publish and get their work out there. My good friend, mentioned above, keeps telling me it is all very much learn-as-you-go.  It's so true. These are just a few observations I have made in the short time I have been working with authors and if any of it can help the process go smoother, that's great.  But I don't believe there is a right or a wrong way; I learn new things from each person who contacts me.

And of course, thanks, Bianca, for asking me to be a guest on your blog! Looking forward to working with you again in the future.

Me too! In fact, I have a couple of covers I need to talk to you about...

 
For more information about Torrie, or to contact her for an eBook cover design, visit her blog at http://torriecooney.blogspot.com/

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post, Bianca. I'm searching for someone to redesign my ebook covers and (after seeing her work) will now give Torrie a look!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're welcome, DC. Torrie is amazing and no doubt she'll knock it out of the park for you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you so much for taking time to read my blog. I read all my comments and appreciate each and every one!

    Moto G3 Case

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very nice Explanation Thanks for sharing some very usefull information.

    Sameera
    Mobile covers and cases Designer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sameera! Glad you enjoyed it. :)

      Delete