Welcome back! I'm happy my rambling hasn't scared you off yet. It's been a few weeks since my last book covers post. Click on part one and part two if you need to remind yourself where we are.
Today we're talking about image shopping. You should have your notes on the basic elements you need for your book cover. You're not forming images of finished covers in your mind yet, are you? Don't do it. Not at this point.
I posted five image shopping tips in May. Before you decide where you're going to get your images from, do your research. Make sure the price is the best and the images can be used for commercial use. Usually they're unlimited for electronic use and limited to 100,000 copies for print books. (The latter I don't worry about. If I ever get to the point where I'm selling over 100,000 print copies, I will be able to afford to buy the rights to the print images!)
When purchasing the images, buy the biggest size with the highest resolution. Make certain the images are clear and in color. If you want blurry effects, black & white, or color washes, you can do those yourself later. They are simple to do in most programs.
Backgrounds: There are tons of cityscapes, castles, mansions, forests, and galaxies to choose from. If you have a real location, find an image that has a well known landmark so the reader will be able to pick it out. Otherwise, don't go searching for an image that is exactly what you're imagining in your head. Remember, we want to create a mood and portray the general characteristics of the setting. Is it mysterious you want? Or foreboding? Dynamic? Serene? Magical?
I was searching for a bit of mystery and larger than life awe. (If that makes sense!) I had a subscription to a stock image site, so I bought a few possibilities for each cover. If you can only afford to download one image for your background, you can get a sample of it and try it out with the other cover pieces before you purchase it. I highly recommend that you do.
For the background, you're walking along the edge of needing a scene that fades into the backdrop and yet very clearly captures the atmosphere. An experienced cover artist will know what they're looking for, but if you're like me, it will be a lot of trial and error.
A reminder of my basic elements for my backgrounds: late summer forest, base of a mountain, and tiny Native village.
Here are the backgrounds of the first three Totem books:
Oh yes. I'm taking you step by step with me! You get to see all my bare elements... and wow, that just sounded dirty.
Anyway, dark with a bit of mystery and awe. Book #1 was the first image I came across and I loved it. For book #2, that image is the tenth candidate. I settled on the fourth image I tried for Book #3.
Tip: you might find an image with something you like in it, but you don't like all of it. You can use part of an image. I've done that with almost every element I used for my covers. This is why you download the largest image. So when you chop it up, the pieces are still a good size.
Since these posts are turning out much longer than I expected, I'm going to continue on with image shopping next time. It will be about the most difficult part: the unsmiling protagonist.
What do those background images make you feel?