In Defense of Indie Cover Art

As you all probably noticed, my cover art doesn’t look like traditional romance covers. Not even a little bit. Actually, they seem to be just figures with heavy black outlines, block colors, and that funky black-with-red-and-yellow stars background. You’re right, that IS what they look like! And they look that way because I made each and every one, from sketch to published cover. Why? How? What for? Read on to find out!

1) Why?

So there are many amazing artists out there. Millions of people have more artistic talent than me, not to mention graphic design skills I never learned. However, I flatter myself that I have decent skill at drawing. (Drawing was my first love, along with writing; I’ve just kept up the one and not put as much time into the art part.) Plus, after spending so much time writing each story and getting to know the characters, I get a distinct impression of them in my mind. When I do my own cover art, I can create exactly the image that’s in my head. My style is straightforward, clear lines and bold colors. They end up looking somewhat like tattoos, woodblock prints, or old-fashioned Tarot cards. At least, that’s what I’ve heard!

2) But really, why?

Another reason is to avoid the inevitable placement in time of my story. Nobody wants to read an 80’s trashy novel, no matter how good it is, because the cover is a total turnoff! I don’t want to dis any romance cover-art aficionados out there, but we all know what those Fabio covers look like, right? (Oh, Fabio! He’s an icon. Check out his Top 40 book covers here!) And can’t we all immediately pick out a cover made in the 80’s? Mulletastic! A prime example:

(Fabulous snarky post about said cover – and other gems! – here at Smart Bitches Trashy Books)

At least my covers will never, ever have a mullet or any other inappropriate hairstyle. Not to mention whatever short-lived fashion statement rolls around next. Simple is timeless!

3) How?

I start with a pencil sketch on good-quality white paper. When I’m happy with how it looks – after much erasing, cursing, and redrawing – I finally outline it in heavy black pen. That’s my working outline. I upload this to my computer, and then use an online program,, to fill in the outline with the colors I want. When it’s done to my satisfaction, I add my signature background: black with big red stars and tiny yellow ones. This became my signature background rather by chance, since it looked great with the cover of An Amazon’s Equal that I did. Fills in the space nicely without distracting from the centerpiece of the cover! Finally, I pick out some great word art to make the title, and voila! A one-of-a-kind, all-made-by-me eBook cover.

I love feedback about my cover art as well as my writing! What do you think? Do let me know!


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