The Jane Doe Novel Experiment

Creating Two New Novels. Writing One Chapter Weekly. Podcasting As I Go. Welcome to The Experiment.

Designing Your Cover – Tips & Tricks

Sure, we say it’s what’s inside the book that counts, but there is a reason when we walk into book stores, the cover image and not the back of the book with the summary is facing us: We gravitate first to what catches our eyes.  We can’t read a wonderful blurb from 10 feet away. Even up close, we tend to only read the blurb if we find the cover appealing. How many times have you seen a cover and said, “Oooo, this looks interesting?” and then opened it to see what it is all about?

You get where this is going, don’t you? The cover of your book can sell your book. (or at least put it in the running to be brought) So, how do you make a great cover? Here are some ideas:

1) Consider your budget. Yes, I know, who thought a reality check would be step one? But it is important. You have to work within the realms of what you can truly afford and get the best out of that. A full, custom photo session? A paid for image? A royalty-free image? Know a talent friend who will give you the “hookup”? (I went this last route. ^.^)

2) Whether it’s you and especially if you hire someone, make sure they know what your book is about. If they can’t read the whole book, give them the summary. Your cover should not only reflect the genre of your book, but also the feel. If you’re putting your book’s first impression-because that is exactly what the cover is, a first impression-in someone else’s hands, make sure they understand what impression it should make.

3) Skip the pretty font for one that is readable. 

How did I apply these steps for, Enough for Four?

1) My budget considered cost and time. I didn’t have much of the second because I had a clock ticking down. ^.^ The first, well, I’m thrifty. =) In all, I was working within the realms of, “I’d like it to be affordable, but I’ll pay to have it good and fast.”

2) I’m a little on the artistic side so I knew what my vision was. I wanted the four main characters with their bare, mid-back to face on the cover. Each would have a hand or a head leaning on, Lily. A few problems with this.

  1. Remember my budget? Time was one. I didn’t have it. I didn’t have time to find one girl who was thin, pale, with a black bob hair cut. Another with long wavy brown hair. And two guys fitting their relative descriptions as well.
  2. How much do models cost?!?

What was the solution? Focus on one character – I picked Lily – and go from there.

I have a friend, Kimberly (Yvonne) Jackson, who is a photographer and pretty decent in Photoshop. ^.^  We sat down and talked it out.  I wanted something that had a romantic feel and took Lily’s physical appearance into consideration without having to be an exact match.  We decided to focus in on body parts. Eyes, lips, neck, back…all were thrown into the pool.

A few sessions, a few re-dos, a few “not quite”…unti we got it!


Not through yet!  Time to clean the photograph and make it match Lily more, she edited the image. Remember, Lily is pale, and I wanted the image to be “softer” to signal “romance” in the reader’s mind.

 3) Now, to add the title and “Jane Doe”.  Of course, it’s romance! I wanted a cute, curly font. And I got it! However, it was not readable, although it was totally cute! Pounding the fact that it was not readable into my head took a few days , but whew! I’m glad I listened. (finally) Also, there is a very special necklace mentioned in the story. Could we pretty please add that in?:


Enough for Four - Jane Doe

And that’s how my cover design for, Enough for Four, came about.  You can read the first chapter here:  The cover design steps for, Disillusioned, are coming soon!

Other tips:

1) Remember your “final” output. Images are shaper when you make them to specific specs. Although, they can be bigger and sized down to fit the specs for your e-book, print, or other form of publication.

2) NEVER create a small version to size up later. The pixels will be stretched and the sharpness will be lost.

3) Though she’s not a professional cover designer, Kimberly is talented. Drop her line and I’m sure she can help and is on the “affordable” end. She loves helping people reach their goals. Email:  Her FB pages are: and

PS – you can help her reach her dream by: 

1) Going to:

2) Do a search for, Ladylike Behavior in IL, Oak Lawn

3) Click “Support”

Want more ideas? Check out this article by Novel Girl;


2 comments on “Designing Your Cover – Tips & Tricks

  1. Novel Girl
    June 12, 2012

    Just wonderful. I love the transformation of that lady. The cover from the picture is just right. You made an awesome practical example!

    • Jane Doe
      June 12, 2012

      Thank you! I am really happy with the outcome. TEAMWORK! =)

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This entry was posted on June 12, 2012 by in For Writers and tagged , , , .

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