Cover Design

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Cover designs, pre-designed and custom for all kinds of genres for a small budget price

 

Commercials/Book trailers

We all know what commercials are, and what their intent result is. No matter how you call it, an add, commercial, book trailer or anything else, the result it is supposed to have is always the same. An increase in sales. Now, as with everything else, there is a science behind commercials which is based on human psychology/behavior pattern. Most of this I only learned myself recently as I tried my hand on my first commercial. Which by the way I pretty much half-assed and never thought through in the first place.

Now, here are some things that are working according to studies.

Commercials should be short, about 30 seconds long and moving, (no static pictures that just stand there like a poster)

They should not present a load of articles but only one to three.

Interactive… this means whatever you present you should present in a way that speaks to your audience and praises the product you have to offer. Talk to the watcher so to speak.

Music should reflect the emotion you want the watcher to feel.

These are some pointers that I was given not so long ago and then researched to learn a little bit more about them. However, I have always been someone going against the grain, making up my own mind and most of all judging things rather by observation then statistics. The thing with statistics is that they are compiled using a broad range of people. When 80 out of a 100 react the same way, it is considered working that way and only that way. But, what if I want to reach those 20 that weren’t affected? How do I know it’s those 20 I want to reach?

You don’t.  Chances are you will never find out if you are trying to reach those 20 or those 80 with your products, and you don’t have to. Use common sense rather then statistics and most of all observe others during commercials, talk to people about it and make up your own mind then add whatever is useful from statistics.

How do you react to commercials, and what do they do for you?

Me—I ignore TV commercials almost completely. Sometimes there is one I look up at because of a good song, cute animals, or funny animations. However, they never made me want to buy anything, not even as a kid. And since we have a PVR I often skip them unless I need to use the bathroom, need a drink or some food.

By the way, watching others and talking to them I learned that many of them react to TV commercials the same way I do. Totally and utterly bored and unimpressed.

Online commercials, like on Facebook, on the other hand can in some cases hold my interest. Some of them show me new and innovative products from health care, or new technologies. Some will present me with new kitchen tools and others inform me about science in general, new computer software for designers or the next best way to publish my next book. By reading this you should already realize why I am more inclined to watch those commercials rather then the ones on TV. Because an algorithm handpicks them according to my interests.

It’s all about TARGET AUDIENCE.

No matter if you are a writer, designer, artists or business of any other kind knowing your target audience is key. Easy. Right?

Well yes, and no. I guess it depends on what you are doing. A romance writer has romance readers as target, a carpenter someone who needs furniture or a house. A designer needs someone who needs a design. And an artist needs someone who likes to look at pretty pictures.

Sadly, it’s not that easy and I don’t have a recipe or road map to success. Believe me if I had I would be sitting in Bora Bora and not in front of my computer with a view of a winter vista. Still, I do have some tips and theories and sometimes it seems they even work.

First of all, even as it sounded like you should disregard the science behind commercials, don’t. Pick and choose with common sense. For example, most people have a short attention span, so keep the advice of keeping it short. People want to be entertained, so keep the pictures moving, don’t have just a poster, and call it a commercial.

If you have the budget hire a company specialized in promotion and your area. However, I know that few do have that kind of budget, neither do I.

Meaning we are on our own, from start to finish. So, what is step one.

Step one is accepting that promoting your work, business or product is going to be hard, time consuming and headache creating. If you think it helps bang your head a couple of times against the door frame in advance.

First you determine WHO is your target audience and narrow it down. I’m going to use my own business as example.

Business = Nicole Kiefer Design

Brought spectrum target = art lovers, people who need an individual and unique design for private or business, Stores that might sell my art on shirts and other merchandise.

Now, this first target audience is for your whole business. You can create a commercial that simply promotes your business, (business name, contact ways, goals) and no specific articles. If you’re not shy make a video of yourself introducing your business and yourself. Keep it short, point out what you can do, and what your goals are.

Second tiered/ more specific targeting = T-Shirts with: aliens, fantasy, pattern, nature, animals, fun phrases, comic, humor, love, sexy, sarcastic, and so on.

This is still a brought target group. Here you can make a commercial pointing out that you do T-shirt design, showing the genres you specialize in, and one or two examples. Make sure all text and pictures are sharp and clear in any resolution. Again, if you can do a video shoot of sort use it, if not use something like PowerPoint or similar program.

Third tiered/get down to product = T-shirts with aliens, targeting sci-fi lovers, believers in aliens and such.

Here is the true hard work, deciding which designs you want to use to represent this category. To me that’s the hardest part because I like them all, after all, I designed them. If you have sold any of your artwork already use those you sold, or if you had some that won competitions, prizes, and awards use those. If not, listen to your guts and hope for the best. If it doesn’t work do it again with different designs.

If you can afford to buy some shirts, do so and ask friends, family, or the guy at the bar (but be careful) to model them for you. Take pictures and assemble them into an animated slide show with some fun copyright free music. (Copyright free music can be found and downloaded on YouTube)

If that isn’t an option try creating 3D models with DAZ or Poser if you have either of those, then dress them in your designs. I only started using those myself and know it’s not easy so don’t get frustrated when the first results don’t look so great. It takes practice. If you don’t have those programs or can’t manage to create what you need go to public domain photo sites like pixerby and download a model you like, then dress that one.

I know I said earlier that you should follow rules like playtime, keeping it short, and that’s still the case. However, animation takes time and if it happens to fast it get’s annoying to watch. If everything just flashes by I personally tune it out. If text vanishes too quickly I tune it out. Stay under one minute if you can. Present only a few examples of one category and choose music that reflects the mood you want to create, matching your designs. (Meaning if you want to sell a Valentine’s design don’t play death metal music.)

When you put your commercial/slide show together show it to friends, family, or the guy at the bar if you liked him.  Ask them how they liked it, if they could read all the text you had in, if they liked the music or if they think you looked good in that shirt. Then make changes as needed or don’t depending on the outcome. If you don’t have anyone to ask, well, you can always hope and pray. Or you can present your commercial to groups and friends on Facebook, MySpace and such to help you find out what is liked and what’s not.

When you think, you’re done put your commercial on YouTube, your website, blog, send it by email to your friends, family and customers and promote it on Twitter and Facebook. Zazzle for example has an area where you can link and promote them. So, do many others, including Amazon for authors on their author page.

It doesn’t matter what business you are in; the basics are always the same. Know your product, determine your target audience, and narrow it down, then make short promotional videos, slide shows or recordings of yourself. Distribute that commercial as far and wide as you can. Don’t be generic, be your extraordinary self, be unique while sticking to some of the science behind promotion.

But most of all, don’t give up just because it didn’t work the first time. Go back to the drawing board, do some research into your genre of business and try again. I don’t believe that there is a single working road map to success, or that only one way works. What I do know is, you’ll never succeed if you give up. Keep on trying, experimenting, and retrying. Don’t give into frustration, don’t despair over a sale missed or not made. Celebrate each sale no matter for what amount of money, every sale is a success, even if it is a small one. Keep on going, be stubborn, be determined and keep on learning. Most of all, try to have fun while never giving up or giving in.

Here are two of my recently designed commercials on YouTube. They are still not perfect but better than my first, second or third.

Good Luck and have fun.

All about the front and back of a book, oh, and the spine of course

The cover of a book is almost as important as what is inside of it. It’s the first thing your readers will see, it’s what makes it stand out from the masses on a book shelve or presentation tables. An interesting cover is what makes a walk by reader stop, pick it up and look inside it. If you think about it, the cover is immensely important. Sadly in many cases it is also immensely expensive. If you publish with companies like CrowdSpring, they offer simple cover designs as DIY in a cover designer. To use those you need no skill, and not much imagination. It’s all pretty generic and simple.

In my opinion the designs you can create with those cover creators and what they offer you to work with, is good if you want A- not sell a thing and B- have no business sense at all. Your book isn’t generic and simple, or is it? So why represent it with a generic, simple, blah cover?

Your cover should be as unique as your story.

I have been in print design in one way or another since my teens, but designing book covers, which I only do sine last year, is a bigger challenge then I ever thought.  Unlike the design of a business card or a promotional flyer, where the written info is the focus and pictures are just to make it look better, a book cover needs to speak without words. Sure it has words, the books title, the author and the synopsis on the back. But those are minor things. The picture, the design is what tells part of the story that awaits the reader.

Now, I love designing book covers. Yet I still make mistakes, which is why I don’t charge as much as those who do it for years and years already. I get better with each cover I do and slowly start to actually make money with them. However, this article is not for bragging, or to tell you to use my service, (even so you should).

This is info for you as the one wanting a cover, so you know what a cover designer needs, what you can expect and the many ways of getting a cover you like. So let’s start with pointing out the three kinds of cover designers that exist, at least in my opinion.

In general they all are artists, however, the kind of designer I am I call photoshopper because I can’t draw a straight line if my life depended on it. There is a hell of a lot a designer can do with the right software and a photo. Being a Photoshop artist is not a bad thing, but it has its limitations.

Then there are those who can really draw and paint, who create a vision by place a pencil or oil to paper or canvas, but have no clue about photo shopping. They have the great benefit that they can create something out of nothing, bring your vision to life. Especially when you invent world, objects or fantasy characters not based on anything already in existence, those talents are invulnerable.

The third kind, is the best but also most of the time those only few can afford. The artists who combine both formerly named styles. Who can draw and photo shop, creating the perfect vision of your dream book cover.

As different as the approaches, pricings and talents used of those three categories are, they all have one thing in common. The need for clear information and open communication. No designer can look into your head, no designer can know what measurements you chose, or what your story is about if you don’t tell him.

Many of us are miracle workers, some more than others, but none of us is a mind reader. Since I started competing for jobs on crowdsourcing sides, I learned how unprepared some authors are when looking for a cover design. Then when nobody comes up with anything they like, they bitch about how useless and money wasting it is to use them. I’m not saying that they aren’t or are, only that as the author you have to give the designer more than a bundle of dollar bills, in order to get a result.

So let’s talk about what the author needs to bring to the table, aside from his/her wallet.

The obvious thing you need is the TITLE OF YOUR BOOK and the AUTHOR OR PEN NAME you want on the cover. I write those in capital so it sticks more out, not because I’m shouting. Anyway, if you have a SYNOPSIS, BLURP OR SHORT BIO you want on the back as well as a PICTURE of you, have those ready as well. As the designer we don’t know much about what your book is about, asking us to write your synopsis is simply not feasible, same with the bio or getting a picture of you. That is not part of our job to research you, or send a photograph to your place. Unless of course to take the hit moneywise, then you can have it all.

Then we need or prefer to have the measurements of your book. Like is it a 6 x 9 or a 5.5 x 8 and how many pages has it or do you know the spine measurements already. It is possible to design without those but depending on how much off we are from where you want to apply it to, it might not fit.

Tell us what your book is about, what GENRE it belongs to as well as the TARGET GROUP, and anything you think is important about your book. What makes it better, different, more lovable then others with the same topic.

If you have a KEY SCENE, and IDEA or VISION of how the cover should look like, then tell us about it in as much detail as you can. This not only enables us to make your vision real but also to determine if we can do it. For example a customer of mine wanted a certain bracelet in his cover, one from the story. It was an unusual and unique piece of jewelry and I simply couldn’t imagine how to do it. So I had to tell him I couldn’t and we found a different way, but if we hadn’t we wouldn’t have wasted time because I knew I couldn’t bring that particular vision to life, and told him so.

Which brings me to the most important part, COMMUNICATION. It’s the A and O of creating a good cover. No matter if it is by contacting a designer directly or going over crowd sourcing companies. Let the designer know what you like and what you don’t like. The changes you want to be made or the suggestions you have. Creating the right cover can mean a lot of back and forth.

Her is an example:

cover1

I designed this only recently following the brief the customer posted. I never even got a comment and since the contest was blind could hardly orient myself by what the customer liked and what he didn’t like. So I was in the dark. A simples, too busy or too bright would have already steered me in a different direction. If I had been the customer I would have for example said: “I can see you read the brief, but this cover has to many different elements for my taste, I would prefer something simpler. The woman is to old and not enough on fire, neither do I like the fog on the ground. However, I do like the font (imagine one since I removed it for privacy reasons) because it pops and stands out wonderfully. I also like the castle you used, but the dragon is not fitting those I used in my story. Mine are more Basilisk like…..

So I trashed pretty much everything except for the castle and the font, but that would have helped me to find a different direction while still sticking with the brief.

You don’t have to be nice and say you like it, when you don’t. Because that helps neither of us. If you comment, tell us honestly what you like and you don’t like it will be a lot of work for you, but the main work is on us. Creating a custom cover takes hours, day’s sometimes weeks. Email after email, back and forth until you are happy.

Now, let’s talk about the options of finding a cover designer. There are lot’s of options.

If you have Facebook, you will find many cover artists there, including yours truly. Just use the page search and enter cover artist or cover designer and you’ll find many pages you can compare and contact.

I know that on Fiver.com are many to find but have no clue how good or bad they are, only that they are cheap, which doesn’t mean they are bad. I started selling mien for under ten and twenty dollars to establish myself, I bet others do the same.

When you publish with Creatspace they link to CrowdSpring for cover designs. Which is a crowdsourcing site. You pay them I think 399 Dollar and the artists get 239 dollars for the cover. Then there is 99Design who have a similar deal. The benefit in using those sites is that you usually get a wide selection of designs to choose from. I work with both and prefer CrowdSpring because they don’t make you jump through too many hoops as designer, but 99Design is more busy with contests and designers.

Another thing you can do is check your favorite books, indie authors and traditional authors alike. Often the cover artist is named on the copyright page. You can search them on the internet and check them out. Some authors add the cover artist in the contribution when they publish, in that case the name shows up on the Amazon detail page as well. So that another way you can search.

I bet there are more ways and feel free to add them as a comment, but those are the ones I know of.

No matter how you find your artist, or how much you are paying for your design, it’s important to remember that in the end it’s a combined effort. No artist can create your vision if you are not engaged in the process. Before you even start looking for an artist, think about what you want, what you imagine and write it down, make a sketch or even make a tape if that’s the way for you to express yourself the best way.

Book Cover Design

An appealing and intriguing book cover is almost as important as the book it contains. It is what your reader sees first, what will lure him to pick it up and open it, it’s your ice breaker, your lure and bait.

Now that said, not every author has the talent, resources or time to design their own book cover. Which is why I offer my service for as low a price as I can.

You can check out my store where I offer pre-designed cover. The choices are constantly growing, since I design a new one whenever I can spare the time. Nicoles Art World

However, if you can’t find something that will fit your story, but like my work, then contact me, I do custom designs.

What I need from you is a summary of your story (what it is about), the overall mood it should convey (fear, darkness, horror, crime, bloody, drama, romance, happy…. ), any ideas you have yourself and want incorporated, or if you have something that is a must… like a woman with red hair, or a man with a scar across his face. And of course, the Title and the author name / pen name you want on the cover.

Basic Fee is $80.00 Cad and then it depends on how complex and time consuming the cover is. I will design several for you to choose from.

If from all the covers I design for you, you don’t like anything, you don’t get charged.

If you are interested, contact me at customdesign@nicolekiefer.com

Here are a few examples:

Sci-fy

Alien breakthroughplanet earth in the starry background,abstract

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiction

soldier propertywedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantasy

skull castledragon mystic angel man and dock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror

skull w sword Deadly drugs bloody skull

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romance

romance 6 moon struck dark man in moon