1. How did you get started designing book covers?
Early last summer I read a book that I absolutely loved, Yellowstone Heart Song, by Peggy L. Henderson. On a whim, I emailed her to tell her how much I loved her work. Even though I’ve loved reading my whole life, I’ve never emailed an author before. We quickly became friends and I was a beta reader for her other books in the series.
Toward the end of the summer I mentioned to her that she should get some new covers (I was gentle). As we talked, I offered to make her a cover. For the past 18 years I’ve been a high school business teacher (Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Photoshop, InDesign, Economics, Yearbook/Newspaper, and others) so I had a skill set that allowed me to jump right in to designing cover art. She loved her cover and I ended up re-designing several covers for her. Peggy encouraged me to branch out and design covers for other authors and she referred me to Romance Novel Center, where I could meet other authors and cover artists.
Soon after, I purchased an image from Romance Novel Covers and I ran into a little glitch. I emailed Jimmy Thomas and he quickly responded with an answer to my question and a question for me. He praised my work and asked me if I wanted to sell pre-made covers on his website. I was so excited I almost fell off my chair. Working with him has really helped me improve my craft. He is very detail oriented and he has a great deal of experience in the industry. I know I can count on him for brutally honest feedback, which is critical to move forward.
Currently I sell pre-made covers on RNC, pre-made covers on my website, and I design custom covers for authors and three publishers. The main publisher I work with is Soul Mate Publishing. They are fabulous to work with and they have some excellent authors.
2. Why do you think a good cover can promote interest as well as sales for the author?
The cover is the single most important marketing tool an author has for a book. Every author needs to go back and read that sentence again. The cover is CRITICAL. The thumbnail gets a couple seconds to lure in the reader. If the cover fails this crucial test, the sale is lost. Even though authors see this all over on blogs, websites, and printed materials for indie authors, they still think it is ok to make their own cover or have someone without a designer’s eye do it for them. I’m pleading and begging indie authors to stop and think about what they are doing. Think about the hours you have invested into your writing and then think about how you present that to potential readers. Having an unprofessional cover is sending the message, “This book is not worth your time, move along.”
A professionally designed cover will attract readers and will help increase sales. Also, the investment is minimal. A pre-made cover is $35-45 and a custom cover is $50 and up with most artists. This is a very small investment. Last fall when I was just getting myself established, an author contacted me about designing a cover for her, R.E. Butler. She loved the design and saw a dramatic increase in sales.
Soon after, I re-designed several covers for her and I’ve done many since that time. She has consistently been on the Amazon Best Seller’s list for authors. She is an excellent writer and her books have eye-catching covers. This is the formula for success: excellent writing + professional cover = SALES. There are a lot of great books out there that will not sell because the cover is lacking.
3. What is your favorite part of designing covers?
Being creative is my fun, relaxing time. After spending the day with teenagers, I need some “quiet time” and designing is that for me. Also, I love helping people. Seeing authors achieve increased sales or having people send me emails about how much they love their cover makes my day. The majority of my clients are repeat customers and this is very important to me. Building these relationships adds to the pride I feel about the whole process. I want an author to love their cover and I want them to sell tons of books!
In addition, the “research” is so much fun. I’ve often wondered how many hours I’ve spend looking at these sexy heroes. R.E. Butler and I laugh all the time about our “research time” together looking for the perfect specimen to appear on the cover. Another part of designing I love is searching for fonts and thinking about how they will look on a cover.
4. Your covers are beautiful and range from sensual to sweet. What helps you visualize what the author wants in a cover?
Thank you for the compliment (blush). Some authors have a very specific cover in mind, which presents a real challenge to a cover artist. The best covers are where the artist is given freedom to create. An artist has the training to design a cover that fits the genre, tone, and heat level of the book. They know what elements will help book sales.
Before starting a cover I gather information from the author about the book. Then I whip up some mock up covers to show them and the tweaking process begins. So far, I’ve been very fortunate to work with such wonderful authors and many of them have become my friends.
For the past 18 years I’ve been teaching high school business in Northern Wisconsin.. When I’m not working on school things, I love designing romance book covers. My favorites….being creative, photography, Little House on the Prairie, reading, nature, camping, antiques, animals, interesting people, exploring new places, music, daisies, movies, challenges, chocolate….
You can visit Ramona’s site at http://coversbyramona.blogspot.com/
Leave a comment for your chance to win $50 toward a custom-made cover or one of Ramona’s fabulous pre-made covers.