Saturday, February 11, 2012

Guest Post with Marie Landry: Do It Yourself Cover Design

Today it is my pleasure to by joined by my friend Marie Landry, author of the absolutely fantastic Blue Sky Days, to talk about the challenge of being an indie author and deciding to design your own cover. I must admit, as a fellow author who is likely going the indie route I was extremely curious about this. And since so many of us, as readers, love to "Oh!" and "Ah!" over the covers of our favorite books, I thought it might be interesting to see how one -- or at least *this* one -- was made.

Do It Yourself Cover Design
A guest post by Marie Landry

Before and After

First, I'd like to thank Kathy for having me here today and for being part of the Blue Sky Days blog tour. She’s been a great friend and supporter during my journey.

When Kathy discovered that I designed the cover of Blue Sky Days myself, she thought her blog readers might be interested in learning the process.

Let me start with my beginnings in graphic design. When I first got the internet, I was looking for a hobby I could do online. I had just graduated from high school and had the summer off before college, so I had a lot of time on my hands. I quickly discovered Paint Shop Pro and the world of PSP groups. A friend gave me the program and I started looking for tutorials. I had some help along the way, but a lot of what I learned was just by playing around with the program.

My first designs were terrible. I look at them now and alternate between cringing and laughing. But over the years, I learned a lot, practiced a lot, got feedback from other PSPers, and I began to like my own designs.

When it came time to design the cover for Blue Sky Days, I knew I wouldn't be able to afford to have someone do it for me. I had a very specific idea in mind, but I couldn't find models that fit my idea, and I don't have a good quality camera (yet!). I spent hours searching online, and found quite a few possibilities, but nothing screamed 'perfect'. Finally, I found the picture that ended up being the cover art—a close-up of a couple holding hands with a blue sky and water in the background.

I bought the rights to the photo and took it to PSP. I adjusted the lighting and colouring, added some texture, and played around with the title and my name. That was the hardest part. I knew I wanted something eye-catching and different, but many independently published books have incredibly cheesy covers, and I wanted to avoid that. I created several mock-ups and posted them on my Facebook fan page and my blog, asking readers for feedback. It took several weeks, but I finally came up with the finished product you see today.

Is it the most amazing cover ever? No. But I'm proud of it, and I've had a lot of very positive feedback. And, like the book itself, designing the cover was a labour of love. Also, by doing it myself, the total cost was only about $10 for the rights to the photo, compared to the hundreds of dollars I’ve heard of other people spending. Can't beat that! Plus, the other pictures I found that didn't end up as the cover, I worked into my book trailer—which I also made myself—and I've used them in artwork I've created for the book.

I'd like to thank Marie for taking the time to drop by and share her experience. I know that cover design is one of the things I am most excited and nervous about with regard to my own work. As for the cover of Blue Sky Days, I think Marie did a fantastic job and I feel that it definitely suits the book perfectly. 

If you haven't heard about Blue Sky Days, or are just curious to know my thoughts about it, please click here for my review

If you want to know more about Marie and Blue Sky Days outside of my site, visit her at her blog Ramblings of a Daydreamer or at her author site


  1. Thanks so much again for being part of the tour, Kathy! I'm about 1/3 of the way into my next novel and I'm already trying to figure out the cover design, but nothing's coming to me yet. I'm hoping once I get a little farther along, inspiration will strike...or maybe this time I'll be able to afford to have someone else do it for me! ;-)

  2. Thanks for the background behind the cover. Honestly, I didn't realize it was an independently published novel until I saw the price. Usually you can tell from the cover, but not this one. I've entered a bunch of giveaways for it and I hope I win, if not I will definitely be buying this book, I'm really excited to read it. Great work Kathy & Marie!

  3. This was a very well done self-pub cover. I always thought stock photos cost hundreds of dollars. Jess has the book on her Kindle and I may have to borrow it !

  4. Marie, I love the cover to your book. It is amazing. Book covers are always the first thing that blows me away about a book. Grab my attention w/ a great cover and I will have a hard time passing up the book.

  5. Thanks so much everyone, you have no idea how much that means to me!!


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