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For “(Don’t?) Judge A Book By Its Cover” Week, we’ve reached out to some prominent cover artists (who are all also authors themselves) and asked them a few questions about the art of designing a great cover.




How did you get into cover designing?

I have an art degree and have worked in graphic design and related fields for years. When I started writing wanting to do covers natural instinct.


You write as well as design covers. Do you design your own covers? When you don’t, are you tempted to?

I design covers for my self-published books. It’s not always an option when working with a publisher. When I know I won’t be able to do my own cover I still have a concept of what I’d like but I try not to be too specific, and instead let the other designer to be creative.


What’s your favorite cover you’ve designed?

It’s usually the latest one. To pick out a few I think stand out, I’m rather pleased with the covers for KJ Charles’ Magpie Lord series. Also, the cover for Josephine Myles’ Tailor Made is my all time favorite “headless torso” design.


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What’s your favorite cover someone else has designed?

That’s a hard question to answer. There are many very talented designers out there.

Going beyond the m/m genre, I have a fondness for classic pulp covers and the design style of Saul Bass—although, he’s known for movie posters.

I love this cover:



Where do you find your stock photos for covers?

I use half a dozen different stock photo sites. In my experience Shutterstock has the best search options, though it’s not the cheapest. Unfortunately, most sites have pretty much the same images, and the few that offer a unique selection, are far more expensive.


What’s your favorite font?

I don’t have a favorite font. Whatever works for the design and the book. I often spend hours picking just the right one for the design.


Are you as sensitive to feedback on you cover designs as you might be on your writing?

I try not to be too sensitive to feedback on my writing. The most common complaint on covers seems to be that the reader doesn’t like the models. Every reader has their mental image of the protagonists, and it doesn’t always match what’s on the cover, or even in the author’s head.


How important do YOU think a cover is to selling a book? 

It’s definitely one of the factors but there are many. I know I’ve been swayed by a handsome cover before, but I also pick a bottle of vine simply because it has pretty label. At the same time, readers will usually buy their favorite authors books no matter what the packaging looks like. Attractive covers are useful for luring in new readers.


4 comments on “COVERS WEEK: COVER ARTIST Q&A – Lou Harper

  1. barbaraelsborg
    June 23, 2014

    Covers are so tricky. I once bought a book because I loved the cover and I didn’t even look what the book was about! I still haven’t read the book but I do love the cover.


  2. Kaje Harper
    June 23, 2014

    And opinions are so variable. Somtimes the same book is on a “best covers” list and a “worst covers” list. Like writing, you’re never going to please everyone. But if someone wanted to make a bit of money, please go and upload a few dozen pictures of two different guys together to one of the stock photo sites. I have a new book coming out, and I really wanted a couple on it, because the series style is a framed portrait. I love my cover, but even before the book has come out, I’ve seen the same couple on at least three other books, because there is no choice.

    There’s no one answer to choosing a cover. Some people love drawn covers, some hate them. Some like non-genre covers, others think they’re misleading. Some complain about headless guys, others complain when the model’s face is visible. You can only do your best to have a cover you like. And with some publishers, even after the cover is done, the marketing folk will weigh in on it and countermand the artist and the author. It’s anything but an exact process.

    Lou has some great covers though. I like “The Hot Floor” and Pender Mackie’s “Wishful Thinking”

    Liked by 1 person

    • louharper
      June 25, 2014

      Kaje, You’re absolutely right–it’s impossible to please everyone. But as long as the author is happy, it’s good.

      Unfortunately there’s barely any decent gay-themed stock photos around, and the few that are used over and over.


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This entry was posted on June 23, 2014 by in Interviews and tagged , .

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