All Your Cover Art Questions Answered – Part II

Last week we talked about things to consider for cover art in terms of sizes, dimensions, and focus. This week, we’re talking about where to find cover artwork or a cover art designer. 

Designing a cover for a digital publication, especially something that needs to work at different sizes, is an art and not something everyone feels comfortable with. 

If you want to design it yourself:

You’ll need a tool like Photoshop, Acorn, Gimp, or some other image editor.
Think a lot about what’s obvious and what isn’t obvious about your publication. It’s easy to make a cover which reflects the content in a way that readers are familiar with: murder mysteries have blood or knives, westerns have a cowboy on a horse, romance has a damsel in distress, etc. But a great cover captures something about the book that makes the reader think. 

There are many online tutorial videos and courses such as this one on designing a book cover in photoshop: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITe3AfVCGYk

For inspiration, check out sites like http://bookcoverarchive.com/ and http://www.goodreads.com/.

If you find you’re enjoying the cover design work, a good resource is Peter Mendelsund’s Cover, (http://www.amazon.com/Cover-Peter-Mendelsund/dp/1576876675) which came out last year. Mendelsund is one of the most sought-after book cover designers in the world, and Cover, which he released last year, includes completed book jackets, rejected works, and reflections on the art and process of cover design.

If you need some art work:

If you’re drawing a blank, you can also try Amazon’s KDP Cover Creator. Alternately, perhaps it’s time to think about hiring a professional.

If you want to hire a pro:

Depending on your budget, you may want to hire someone who does this full-time and is an expert at it. Expect to pay anywhere from $99 up to $1000, depending on the designer’s experience and clientele.

Some professional ebook designers we’ve noticed online:

http://ebooklaunch.com/ebook-cover-design/

http://www.creativindiecovers.com/

http://www.bookcovercafe.com/book-cover-design/

Another great resource for this is the forum section of Goodreads, you’ll find many discussions like this one:

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/837698-book-cover-artists-illustrators

For more great suggestions, check out the list here:

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/bookcoverdesign/

Some lovely editorial and ebook cover designers we found on dribbble (search for things like “ebook, book, covers”):

And some from Bēhance (search for things like “editorial design, ebook”):

Reading on Watches

Whether you watched Apple’s keynote last week unveiling the new Apple Watch or ignored the entire thing, you probably know that Apple Watch is launching soon. As publishers, we eagerly anticipate seeing how people use the devices and what the sweet spot use cases are for it.

Neat, new features for Apple Watch will enable some unique behaviors and capabilities:

  • WatchKit Apps – a version of your app on an Apple Watch which contains a full user interface
  • Glances – provide users with timely, read-only information they care about in a quick and lightweight view
  • Actionable Notifications – notifications to allow users to take action right from their wrists
  • Handoff –  enables continuity and allows users to pick up a task started in an app on another device or Mac

Over at Woopie HQ, we’ve been brainstorming about ways readers might want to take advantage of smart watches. Here are some scenarios we can envision for publishers who want their content to reach the wrists of their forward-thinking readers:

image of a hypothetical app showing an article and short summary on an Apple Watch

1) Just the headlines: For a brief overview of a publication, why not let the reader simply swipe through the various articles, viewing headlines and perhaps a summary or a subhead from the content?

Maybe add a favorite or a “like” to the article to sync it to your iPad or iPhone for more in-depth reading later.

image of a hypothetical app showing an article and buttons for listening or favoriting for later on an Apple Watch

2) Read it to me: It might simply be too tedious or awkward to read through an entire article on a watch, and since most people will likely have a phone with them anyway, an audio version of content is an option for Apple Watch publications.

The reader can swipe through the main content, clicking the play button to hear an audio version.

image of a hypothetical app showing a 'minimap' or highly condensed version of an article on an Apple Watch

3) The Minimap: A minimap is a small version of something that gives you a sense of the layout, size and flow of the article.

Providing a minimal view of an article could be a great way to let readers know if it’s something they want to pull out their phone to read versus save it until they’re at home and have more time.

image of a hypothetical Apple Watch notifications app alerting the user that a new issue is available for download

4) Notifications Only: Let the user know that a new edition or issue is available and enable them to start downloading it to their iPad or iPhone.

Devices are always changing: size, dimensions, resolution and more. Devices will continue to adapt and evolve as people’s lifestyles do and as technology capabilities increase. Do you envision consumers will read on their wearable devices? What types of things do you see people wanting to do with watches and wearables?

Publishers who stay agile and flexible will always have a big advantage in their ability to repurpose and repackage content without having to create a new CMS or try to reformat a PDF. Talk to us about how you can keep your content responsive and delivering on your audience on any device, anywhere with Woopie.

What Digital Magazines Do To Voluntarily Deter Readers

A while back, I did some research on what happens when you don’t think about accessibility for your magazine. The results speak for themselves: 

If your digital strategy involves a PDF-to-iPad conversion tool, there’s a very high chance that what you present to over 10% of your potential audience is a black box. 

These videos were created to show the frustrating experience of trying to use an accessibility tool like VoiceOver to read a digital magazine. It’s very painful. 

Respect Your Readers

Accessibility is about respect. Respecting readers means making covers that users can get past. It means making sure text size is alterable for people who might need to bump up the fonts on small screens. It is paying attention to contrast and colors so that content is easy-to-read for those with vision impairment. 

Respecting readers also means giving them options. If your audience includes busy commuters, offering an audio version is an enhancement that keeps them hands-free and safe on the road. A responsive HTML version provides the option to start reading something on a laptop in the office and read the rest of it on a phone on the way home. An eReader version means if someone wants to read on a Kindle with no distractions, it’s possible.

Ensuring a publication is accessible enables these scenarios and more, and it also helps to keep content future-proofed as readers upgrade devices and change operating systems. 

Will your publication be readable on Google Glass or will it stay a Flash-based, page-turn relic? 

Learn More: 

For more about how to get started with accessible publications and things to think in mind, check out this article I wrote for .net magazine (now Creative Bloq): 10 Great Ways to Make Your Content Portable and Accessible

Or sign up for Woopie to create beautiful documents and publications that work across any platform and device: Sign up for Woopie