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Writing for Visual Purposes

headshotHi. Name’s Rachel. Let’s start off with a confession: I googled “how to write your first blog post.” Why? Because, unlike the rest of the lovely people on this blog, I haven’t written in the traditional, professional sense. The most fitting description of my writing career is “dabbler.” The most I’ve written for a novel was a 20,000 word run for NaNoWriMo. I’ve never published anything I have written. I didn’t graduate with a degree in any field remotely related to writing. I only update my twitter sporadically.

Needless to say, writing on a blog with writers and about writing intimidates me a little.

So why am I here, on a writing and publishing blog? I’m here because of what I do for a living–graphic design and illustration. And I’m here to teach you what makes a great book cover and how you can kick your book cover design up a notch or three.

In this age of fierce e-book competition, I don’t think I need to tell you about how crucial a good cover is. It’s more than just “that last thing” before finishing your book. You might have written the next Harry Potter, but without a cover to reflect those amazing words, you might as well have tucked your hard work in the back of a warehouse. Word of mouth only can start if you entice someone to pick up your book in the first place.

“But, Rachel,” you may be thinking, “the last time I did anything visually artistic was twenty years ago on my parent’s living room wall. I know nothing about those fancy design programs. I don’t have the money to hire a professional. My teenage cousin did a cover for me, and I didn’t have the guts to tell him it was horrible.”

Have no fear. My goal for this column is to nudge you toward thinking like a designer. I’d still very much recommend that you hire the right professional to design your cover, but I acknowledge that’s not always possible. In which case, I want to help you avoid something like this:


(My eyes! They burn!*)

I’ll provide perspective and tips on good cover design and all that is related to it. So then you can take what applies and use it to spruce up your cover (or the cover that your designer is doing for you). You’ve already poured your heart and effort into writing your masterpiece. Don’t you want to give it the cover it deserves?

Thanks to the people at Unstressed Syllables for allowing me the opportunity to help authors. Now let’s get this show on the road.

*Please note that this is not an actual book cover, just a mash-up of several bad choices I’ve seen on ebook covers. Unfortunately, I’ve seen covers worse than this one.

Rachel Giles is a professional graphic designer who graciously donates her time to the Consortium. Every Tuesday she shares an article about quality cover design.

2 Responses to “Writing for Visual Purposes”

  1. Lynnda Brown says:

    Looking forward to your contributions!!

  2. Grandma Pat says:

    Hey Rachel..what a great idea! Let me know how I can
    help spread the word! Can we see some cool examples of your work? Keep up the good work!