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April 19, 2013

Sydney Logan: The Making of a Book Cover

I have a confession to make. I judge a book by its cover.

I admit it. It’s the first thing that grabs my attention. If the cover is not eye-catching, I look for something else. I’m not proud of this. I know that I’ve probably missed out on some excellent stories due to my affection for pretty covers.

As you can imagine, this love for attractive covers makes me a tad bit obsessive when it comes to my own.  I’m lucky in that my publisher allows an author’s input on book covers. I love the process, even if finding the perfect artwork or photographs can be time consuming.

During the writing of my upcoming novel, Mountain Charm (coming July 4), I spent hours upon hours looking  at online photo sites, trying to find the perfect cover image. I found this picture, and instantly fell in love.

Silhouette of a couple walking their dog on sunset
Deposit Photos Stock Vector © Balint Roxana

Normally, I’m not crazy about people on my covers, but I loved the silhouettes here. The dog in the story is  Labrador and, according to a friend of mine, this dog’s tail was not Labrador-ish, but we could easily fix  that.

I sent the picture to the cover designer, Jada D’ Lee. Five emails later, my cover was complete (please note the dog’s new tail).

Since this is Friday Fun, I thought it would be fun to sit down with graphic designer Jada D’Lee and discuss the making of the cover of Mountain Charm.

What’s the first thing you do when you receive a photo? Where do you start?

Stare at it for an hour and wonder what on earth I'm going to do with it! *giggles* Well first of all, you need o find the right photo. Sometimes it's found on a stock photo site, other times it's a photo that author took with her camera phone!

From there, I always make mockups for the author using the image first, or the preview image if it's a stock photo. That way, we know whether or not it's the right pic. Even if it's small form, you can get a good idea. If it works, we purchase the photo and get to work!

After that, lots and lots of adjusting! Highlighting, dodge, burn, moving, stretching, shrinking, put this here,  put that there, add a bar across this part, can you make this monkey have green hair...whatever we can think of that looks good!

Briefly take us through the creation of the cover of Mountain Charm.

Oh, I loved that cover! The first thing I asked was to get a peek at the first chapter. I don't know if this is  common for cover artists, but it gives me a sense of what colors to use. Colors bring out the mood of a  story, so you want to get the right ones for each novel. After a few pages of reading Mountain Charm, I just got this sense of shades of blue, something magical without being sad. You can easily go the wrong way when using blue!

I also really wanted to throw in some magical sparkles and add a sense of romance, which I was happy to hear was exactly what the author wanted! From there, it was all just about finding the right photo for it all. Having worked with you before, I knew you liked graphics as opposed to photographs, so finding the photo for this cover was a real find!

A typical cover takes how long to design?

Oh, I'd say about a week, at most two weeks. But only because I'm a busy Mom as well and some of those  sexy covers, I can't work on when my boys are nearby! But after bedtime, I'm good to go! However, if the author is on a time restraint, I've been known to finish a cover in a day. If it means helping out an author in need, I can go without sleep. Why not!

What program do you use to create your designs?

Honestly, I use anything I can get my hands on! I love Gimp and Photoshop, but if I need something from Jasc Animation Shop 3 or even something as easy as Picasa, I'm using it! Of course in the end, it all ends up as a psd file. Unless I'm doing a book trailer, then I use Animation Shop mostly.

Of your creations, do you have a favorite design? Or are they like your babies and it’s impossible to choose?

Oh my, I can't choose! That's like Sophie's Choice to me! Plus, when I look at my portfolio, my gosh, they're all so different! Sometimes I don't believe I actually made them. It's surreal!

However, I do have a soft spot for my first book cover, which was for S.L. Scott, and my first book trailer, which was for E.L. James. If those authors hadn't hired me, I probably wouldn't be doing the covers and trailers I'm doing now.

And it's been such a cool ride so far. I can't imagine my life without this gig! I can't wait to see what's next!

Check out Jada D’Lee’s creations on her Pinterest page:

About the Author:

Sydney Logan is an Amazon bestselling author and holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education. With the 2012 release of her first novel, Lessons Learned, she made the transition from bookworm to author. Sydney has a very unhealthy obsession with music, and her iPod is filled with everything from Johnny Cash to Eminem. She is also the author of two short stories: “Mistletoe Magic,” available exclusively on Amazon Kindle, and “Stupid Cupid,” which is featured in the Romantic Interludes compilation. When she isn't reading or writing, she enjoys playing piano and relaxing on her front porch at her home in East Tennessee with her wonderful husband and their very spoiled cat.
Her second novel, Mountain Charm, is slated for a summer 2013 release.
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