The 411 on Cover Design for a Chick Lit Novel
After you've signed off on your first contract to publish your manuscript, the fun doesn't end there. Of course, you have to be willing to edit and edit again as you hash out changes to your book with your editors. And on top of that, you have to put thought into the cover design that you will use to best represent your book on the shelf.
At first, I didn't think that cover design for my chick lit novel 5 Stages of Grief would be such a big deal. After all, all I really needed was something fun, cutesy, whimsical, and attractive to all of the women out there, right?
But, as it turns out, the initial idea that I had for the cover - a high heel with a wedding ring around the stiletto heel - was already taken by a very famous chick lit author, Lauren Weisberger in her novel Chasing Harry Winston. So there went that idea ...
And then the panic started to set in. How was I supposed to choose a cover that best represented my work but was also simple enough not to take away from the book?
The good news was that I had a trick up my sleeve in the form of my good friend who also happened to be a graphic designer. Since I was working with a smaller publishing house, Black Opal Books, they gave me total freedom over my cover design. I was able to consult with this friend who specialized in cute T-Shirt designs with girly characters that were right up my alley.
I ultimately went with a sophisticated, sassy, chick lit widow in mourning drinking a cocktail, and I'm glad I did. But in the process of exploring cover design, there were a few important pointers that I picked up:
- Stick with one main idea. I've noticed that many of the best chick lit authors don't even use a character on their cover, with one example being Lauren Weisberger and the stiletto heel on her book cover. In essence, there's no need to overdo it. If your book theme can be summed up with a single object, like a pair of sunglasses, then that is all that you need for the cover.
- Take away unnecessary clutter. Think twice about including a backdrop or extra elements in the cover design. I went with a city skyline in the background because my character has a job at a magazine in Denver.
- Do your homework. Before you make any final decisions, check out a number of top book covers in your genre to see what readers actually like. And this may also prevent you from unknowingly copying another author, as I found out the hard way.
Bethany Ramos is the author of the chick lit novel 5 Stages of Grief and is under contract to publish her children's book Lions Can't Eat Spaghetti. She also reviews chick lit books on her blog http://chicklit-books.com/
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