Hello, everyone! My name is Valerie Tibbs, and I am a graphic designer. I have a day job as an IT person at a local bank, but my true vocation is graphic design. Even though this career path came to me fairly late in life, I had always wanted to be an artist. I loved to paint and sketch. But as things happen in life, I went the more practical route and joined the military. I spent eight years in the U.S. Navy and learned all I could about computers and took art and design classes whenever and wherever I could.
Several years ago, I discovered ebooks. I saw a lot of the covers -- most of them were the Poser covers (CGI) -- and thought there had to be something better. I started designing covers, practicing, honing my skills, and finally had the courage to submit some samples to several publishers. They all got rejected. J I persevered and asked one publisher to let me do one for free. If they liked it, then we could negotiate and they’d hired me. I did it, and they liked it. So once I had that as part of my portfolio, I was able to get hired on by more publishers. And that kept growing.
I tried with Liquid Silver for several years before I was accepted. When I did, they embraced me fully and truly appreciate my talents.
What art/graphics training does an aspiring cover artist need to have?
I think a basic understanding of art is important. Take art classes in school, if they’re offered. If not, there are lots of online courses as well as a lot of colleges/universities that offer art classes. Getting the fundamentals down is important.
What goes into creating a book cover?
The first thing I need to know is the genre. Is it paranormal? Contemporary? Those will play into the design. Then the typeface. I will admit, I struggle with this. Fonts make me crazy. I sometimes have to get help because what I've chosen just isn't quite right.
Please provide insight into how you chose the images and colors for the cover of The Shore Thing.
That was fairly easy. J We wanted a contemporary couple and a beach scene. Because it was summery and warm, I went with the warm yellow tones. And not too naughty as to trigger any filters anywhere, either. Pretty! J
LSB has very specific guidelines it wants to follow, and the primary goal is that the author's name be large and legible at the small thumbnail size. This is the author’s “brand.” Books come and go, but the author’s name will always be there. Sometimes this works well with the design, and sometimes the design (the art portion) has to be tweaked a bit to accommodate the text. But the result is that we strive to get every LSB author's name legible at the small size, and it’s easy to read on certain e-readers in black and white as well.
What do you think authors desire in a book cover?
The primary objective of any cover is to get sales, right? You need to sell your book. Eye-catching covers get sales. We DO judge a book by its cover. I think how authors go about this differs from author to author. Some well-established authors just want an eye-catching cover and really aren’t fussy about the details. Other authors, especially new authors, want EVERY possible element on their cover. It’s a shifter/ménage/contemporary/in space/with green wings/steampunk/BDSM. Uh, hmmm … So, it’s up to me to reel them in and make them take a hard look and really think about the cover. It’s not supposed to tell the WHOLE story. It’s supposed to represent KEY elements in your book. Romance? Check. Hot guy? Check. The rest is superfluous. At least in my opinion.
What should self-published authors look for when hiring a cover artist?
You want to find one who’s reputable. Ask publishers who they recommend (if they have one). Word of mouth really goes a long way. This will sound weird, but don’t hire someone who undercharges. I know it’s easy to get a $40 cover, but you get what you pay for. This undermines those of us who are trying to make a living and who have spent years learning and training. These are people who use illegal images (just because you can find it on Google or Deviant Art doesn’t make it legal) or low resolution (a.k.a. cheap) stock images and slap on some text. You want to hire someone who knows what they’re doing and can help you market this book as well. Do your homework. Or you can just hire me. J
This is a very hard question. The Bianca D’Arc one is really my top favorite right now. I do love the covers that I’ve done for Mari Carr and Lila DuBois as well.
What’s your workload like? How many covers do you do in a week? How many have you done in total?
I can normally do about five to 10 covers a week. This depends on what activities I have going on during the weekends or at night, since I do have a day job, too. I have lost count of how many covers I’ve done, but it’s more than 400.
What’s your dream job?
My dream job would be to travel all the time (first class, of course) and stay in fancy hotels with room service. But I don’t think that’s really possible, so I’d really love to do graphic design full time. J
If anyone wants to get hold of me, they can find me at www.tibbsdesign.com. Or you can find me on Facebook on my personal page or the Tibbs Design page. And occasionally I’m on Twitter: @valerietibbs.
Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog!