Making of a Cover...


Being an artists before a writer, I'm cockily confident that I can create what the big 4 publishers have entire departments to do and design my own cover for Moonflower.  Actually a conversation with an editor from one of those big 4 houses at a book conference did make me think I couldn't do any worse designing my own covers, since most books are usually done with clip art and rather quickly, too low budget for any custom photo shoot  and sometimes done the night before meetings.

So I have set myself the task of learning the rules and yes there are rules. It is not as simple as one might think, the cover needing to evoke the "emotional flavor" of the book and with a style connected to the genre it resides in. Plus capture potential readers attention from afar, be it on a screen with a sea of over books or across a book store. Like, weirdly, most historical fictions slanted for women have a women facing away and white lettering somewhere on the cover.  Writing that, I had a moment of "What the heck am I doing!" But then the voice of reason in my head won out and reminded me, that my children are raised and my large "engine of motherhood" can be directed somewhere else and learning something new, ( huh, that is a post in itself), is a good thing.

My new  journey in cover design  began with a photo shoot on the red rock flats above Moab Utah, with Daughter #2, actually.....three years ago. Did I say I was excited for the book cover?


Yes, she is blonde and her hair is not nearly long enough for Luna Watson's unruly long brown curls that are a big part of MOONFLOWER, but that can all be magically changed in Photoshop and by doing this...


Now, the lettering, though no designer calls letters- letters, is also a big part of cover design and to be honest, for most of my life being dyslexic, letters have been my enemy, floating and flipping around in my brain with me finding ways to get them to stay where they should. The idea that I managed to corral about 100,000 of them in sequence to tell a story, is a huge milestone for me and one most of the teachers from elementary school would probably not believe, but enough of that. For now, I am determine to learn to give fonts, the artsy term for lettering, the respect they deserve and am going where I go,  collecting a stack of books to educate myself, so probably things are going to change. I've come to terms that this publishing journey is going to have many a back track and false start and taking the self publishing route, I can well, do what I want.

Images, on the contrary,  have always been my friends and I have spent my life pouring over them, in the big coffee table books of my mother and grandmother. Through a camera, way back in high school where my theater friends were very happy to be my models and in Art school where my class was probably one of the last to learn how to develop film in a dark room. Photoshop came out the year I graduated. 

 I took dozens if not a hundred of the back of my daughter's head, yeah to digital SLR cameras. It always humors me when someone stops me and tell me I shouldn't shoot into the sun, like I am wasting film. Now my step dad had a reason to tell me not to waste film when I was playing around with his chemicals and paper in his dark room in the basement..... but, now, shoot into the sun, with the sun behind you. upside down.....just play! What is the worst that could happen? So.....I played and have a lot of pics of the back of my daughter's head... But hey, pretty cool pics I think, even using a few of them in my art work.  


Looking through these pics I can see many many different ways a book cover could go. The cover I have now, is not "locked in" by any means and will definitely be tweaking it more, as in changing finite detail, apparently where spelling it with two "EE"s means something else entirely. Ahhhh today's urban words are always changing...

In my Photoshop file of Moonflower, "Luna" is on her own layer, actually, the braid is on its own layer as are the Fonts..... so there are many, many, many things that can be changed around. It is true that artists and probably writers never really declare something  finished, its just eventually "due".


The scene in the background is also on its own layer and can be changed out and moved around or even created using several different layer of images....


Below I leave you with one of my favorite pics of moonflowers, which is part of the morning glory family. In Utah the variety can grow to huge mounds of sliver green leaves and white trumpet shaped flowers that are pollinated by moths by the light of the moon, closing up in the heat of the day. The flowers have always inspired me because they are very good at finding place to send their roots down , grow and bloom, using the resources they have.

Yes, they can send you to happy or crazy  land, something I did not know when I thought up the story or created my art studio- in my other life- here -


Kelly LewisComment