For the curious, a summation of my experiences thus far, something I think bears repeating: In regards to Carrie Ann, the woman in charge, the words pleasant and professional spring to mind. She’s got some great advice on her blog. Her emails about the hop are timely (neither too late nor too early), easy to understand. And she responds to questions fast. A+, will hop with again.
But, back to the matter at hand, what I’ve learned thus far.
First piece of advice:
Use an image that speaks to you. I found this picture at Romance Novel Covers, and the way the woman’s hair fanned out over the bed struck me.
Scanning through the shoot, I found this one picture where she has her finger stuck in her mouth all “oh my” and I knew I had the perfect image. I whipped up a quick cover using this great tutorial by Aubrey Watt. Since her hair was what I really loved, I ended up inverting the image and cropping a bit of the bottom.
Which brings us to the second piece of advice—
Never Ever Design One Cover:
Design many. Make sure they pass this test from Popular Soda. My first one, where I had just inverted the image, didn’t. Cropping it to give me more space for the text (which could stand to be larger yet) and changing the color helped:
The third thing you need to do is play with GIMP.
Seriously, it’s just a program. Hit ctrl+z if it gives you shit.
If you’ll notice, the third piece of advice works well with the second piece of advice. These are two attempts of mine. The first image doesn’t work because it’s just two random images crammed together. The second is black and white, which, while artistically appealing, will never have that pop to it. Also, no sexy lady. First image source. Second image source.
It was another striking image by Mikhail Vrubel that I ended up using to create my new cover. I was fooling around with the colorize tool and paint bucket. The background from the watercolor “dripped” down into the model’s hair and on the bed. Once I figured out the right shade, I used a textured paint tool to blend the image of the woman into the watercolor. Fiddling with the text size, I was able to make my title flow in the available space. Using a guideline, I aligned the text, and bam! I had a snazzy new cover.
I owe an extra thanks to my fiance for lending his eye and his expertise.