Friday, May 31, 2013

Interview with Cover Artist Cali MacKay

Instead of the usual author interview, I thought I'd ask some industry experts to explore some topics this summer.  I reached out to Cali MacKay, cover artist extraordinaire, to talk about the all-important cover to your masterpiece.

Thanks, Cali, for taking some time to share your thoughts.  So, here we go:

1)      What makes a compelling cover?
I think it’s a combination of the right composition and also finding/using stock images that will make an impact.  Also, I often think less is more when it comes to a cover, since most readers browse through thumbnail images, and too many elements in a cover will look cluttered and will lessen the impact of a few bold images.
2)      What is the importance of types of fonts/sizes of fonts?
Fonts are extremely important, in my opinion, for giving the reader a sense of the genre and also the feel of the book.  Also, I think it’s important to use fonts that feel “current,” since it’s very easy for a font to make a book feel dated or old-fashioned.  Too often, I think not enough attention is paid to picking the right font.
3)      How important is a blurb on the front of a cover? 
Honestly, I seldom put a blurb on most of the covers I make, since they’re usually ebooks.  It goes back to not wanting to clutter the cover so that it makes the most impact when readers are browsing thumbnails.  I think different rules apply for paperbacks, however, especially if they’re going to be purchased at a book store, where the reader can see the full-size cover.
4)      Describe what you would consider a cardinal sin for a cover.
I think it’d be going with something that looks “homemade” or unprofessional, and also putting a cover out that feels dated. However, one of the biggest mistakes that I think authors will make when designing a cover (or having one made) is to try to have their cover represent their story exactly.  I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but a cover’s main purpose is to get a reader to click on the cover to find out more about the story.  It’s the author’s biggest marketing tool.  But often times authors will sacrifice design for accuracy, and because stock photography can be limiting and most authors can’t afford a photo shoot, accuracy often means going with stock that has far less impact.  Often times, it also means that the cover will become cluttered with all the “important” elements in a story—a dog, a porch, lightning, a cottage, the sea, etc.  Put all those elements in a cover, and you end up with a mish-mash of images that will lead to a cover that looks unprofessional, cluttered, and has little impact.
5)      Describe what you would consider essential for a cover.
The cover has to be bold enough to stand out in a sea of covers when the reader is scanning through hundreds of covers at an incredibly fast speed.  If it doesn’t “pop,” then it will often times get over looked, which means you’ve just lost a potential reader.
6)      When should an author reach out to a professional cover artist?
If an author doesn’t think they can pull off a cover that will have a bold impact and look professional and current, then I think it’s worth finding a cover artist.  The right cover can have a huge impact on sales.
7)      How can prospective clients reach you? 

1 comment:

  1. Cali's covers are brilliant - she knows exactly how to make them pop! Great interview ladies :)