This is the sequel to Vanity in Dust by Cheryl Low. You should not miss this series! I know I am biased because I totally love this series and I have read them over and over. But I totally recommend this series anyway. Give it a try! And don’t forget to leave a review!
I will write a more in-depth post about the process of making the cover. I’m just so happy it is out in the world!
About Detox in Letters
Welcome to the Realm, where magic is your drug, your poison, and your only hope. An illness is spreading through the city, marking the sick in mysterious letters scrawled across their skin. What is first thought to be madness reveals itself to be an awakening as residents rediscover themselves, their pasts, and their long-forgotten magic… things the Queen wants to remain buried. Things she will sacrifice her own children to suppress. Mercy has never been a staple of the Realm. Treachery, blood, and magic steeps the city as the rebel leader, Red, seeks to topple the Tower, Princess Fay eyes her mother’s throne, and Prince Vaun must decide whether to submit to his mother’s terrible demand.
This cover talk series aims to highlight the people behind the book covers. Who are they and how do they work? In this post we get to meet Kimberley Marsot Guillaumier “Kim G Design” who designs book covers and does fan art in her spare time. You might have seen some of Kimberleys designs before, if not you can have a look at her webpage. She has also gotten lot of great response to her fanart and she won theThe Divergent FanMade Contest (hosted by Lionsgate) and has been part of the Hunger Games Exhibition. Kimberley Marsot Guillaumier lives and works from France with the world as her canvas and I hope this interview will be as interesting for you as it was for me.
How did you start making book covers?
It’s was kind of a”set of circumstances” that joined together: I used to read a lot, I love books and I’m also passionate about photography and Photoshop. A few years ago I combined these two passions and I started creating book fanarts, fanmade movie posters and fanmade book covers. It was just for fun, to share and interact with the book fandoms.
About two years ago I read BRANDED by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki and I fell in love with the story and characters. I shared my thoughts with the authors and made some fanarts about their book. We came to talk a lot and became friends. BRANDED was published by Month9Books and when the time came to design the cover of HUNTED (the second book in the series) Abi and Missy suggested to their publisher to use me as their cover designer,. And that’s how everything started. I’m so thankful and I owe Abi and Missy a lot because they believed in me and helped me realize a dream I didn’t even allow myself to believe in. Month9Books seemed to like my work because they asked me to design a few other book covers for them.
Then I had another incredible chance: work for OfTomes Publishing. Ben (the editor in chief) is amazing and I’m so happy that he gave me a chance to be a part of his team.
I think I’ve been lucky at the beginning and today I’m so grateful to be able to work for and with amazing authors and publishing companies.
Which book cover has been the most challenging so far, and why was it challenging?
I think each design is a sort of a challenge because I want every author to be 100% satisfied with the book cover. Sometimes it’s easy because the customers and I have the same vision of the design, but sometimes they have a very specific idea,it’s clear for them but not always that “obvious” for me, so it can be hard to create exactly what’s in their minds.
When I’m not sure of what direction to take I like to create different designs so the customers can tell me what they prefer.
I think challenges are motivating, I want to be able to do as many things as possible and I don’t want to feel pressure when someone asks me to do something different, something that I never done before. I just like the idea of proving to people who think I won’t succeed that they are wrong.
Which cover is your favourite so far?
I put my time and heart in every project so it’s really hard to pick just one cover, but here are some of my favorites:
Do you get to read the book you will do the cover for?
Most of the time the author (or publishing company) contacts me before the writing of the book is complete. They give me a brief or a synopsis, physical description of the character(s) if he wants a model on their cover,… etc. They can also give me some important details in the story (or spoilers), so I can add some elements that you’ll notice after you read the book.
I have less time to read now, but authors often send me a physical copy of their book or I order one,so I can read them later.
How much time does a cover usually take for you?
Oh, this depends too. I first need to find the perfect stock images and most of the time it’s the longest part. Then, comes the “designing” part in photoshop. That’s my favorite part, because that’s when I really « build » the cover: photoshop manipulation, color and effect settings, title & author’s name design, text placement , … etc. And then the “formatting” (set the cover ‘s size, format, ect…) Most of the time this happens later when the writing is finished and the interior is formatted, it can be weeks or months later.
It can also happen that an author agreed on a design and then changes his mind and ask for something totally different, the work I did previously is lost, so is the time I spent working. So, when everything goes well, it takes 6/7 hours for the whole thing, but it can takes a lot more, Several days…
Do you buy stocks or do you take most stocks yourself?
I use Royalty Free Pictures from Image Bank Websites at the moment. But I’m currently contacting some models to create my own stocks. I will add a new package soon at KimG-Design where I will offer custom photoshoots for book covers and promotional pictures.
How long have you been editing photos in photoshop? (What got you started in the beginning?)
Wow, I can’t remember when exactly, it’s been years! When I was a teenager, I was writing a “Jonas Brothers” fanfic. I liked to add a picture to each chapter and I wanted these pictures to be “different” more “creative” than the photos you could see everywhere, so I started adding frames, texts, colors, effects and after a few months the result became more “artistic”. I learned everything by reading or watching tutorials on youtube.
Do you have any tips for someone who want to make book covers themself? (Is there some things, details that you need to think about?)
First advice is: be patient. You’ll have to deal with people who can be very demanding, who are not easily satisfied, who change their minds, … ect. But you have to understand how much authors care about their book cover, this is really important, and the essential is that people are satisfied.
Be creative: of course we can find inspiration with others people’s work but do not copy !!!
« Never give up » (sorry that’s cliché ): To be honest, even if it’s my passion and I love what I do, I sometimes have to work on designs that don’t talk to me at first. It’s really hard to work when you’re not inspired by the customer’s idea or don’t understand what they want exactly, but you need to find motivation. Also you can be confronted with criticisms, it can be very helpful if it is « justified » but sometimes it’s just hate, jealousy. In that case: don’t listen. And if you doubt yourself, your skills: think about all the good things that happened, the support from friends, family, people on social media or customers. Don’t let anyone discourage you!
Merilliza Chan is the Illustrator for the Air Awakens Series by Elise Kova. Her illustrations have gotten a lot of praise and I love them as well. I reached our to Merilliza and I was very glad when she agreed to do a little interview for my blog.
How did you get involved in these covers? (Did you know Elise Kova from before? Did she contact you somehow?)
No, I didn’t know Elise until she emailed me looking for a cover artist. She told me she found me through my account on Deviantart. She saw one of my commissioned works.
Elise told me that particular work captured the essence she wanted for Air Awakens. I guess it was all just luck that she actually saw one of my works and it eventually lead me into being her cover artist.
Do you get to read the books before designing?
Yes, I did read the books. Initially when Elise was looking for an artist, she sent me cut up scenes and character descriptions, along with the first book. She never expected me to read them all but I loved her story and got hooked. Now I want to know how it all ends. The books are, at the moment of this interview, still being created, so I still read as we go along. Elise has an amazing schedule and time table for when she sends me manuscript.
Do you get a set theme for the book cover or are you free to come up with ideas by yourself?
Both. What I love about working with Elise is that we have an open communication that enables our work flow to be flexible. Sometimes Elise has ideas too so I try to incorporate them along the way but the theme itself comes from the book, which is why I try to read what I can in order to come up with ideas. I think it’s important to get the “feel” and atmosphere of the book first and what’s really the point of interest in it. With that, I can make sure that whatever ideas I come up with stays relevant and unique with the story.
What do you think is the most fun during the process of making a cover?
Though I love and enjoy the whole process of my work, personally I think the real fun part comes during the painting process itself. I love my tools and sometimes I experiment along the way. Whenever I paint I learn something new, even in little ways. It’s the part that comes after idea generation / thumbnailing so I feel more relaxed when painting. Not to say that I stop problem solving when painting. In fact most of the problem start to arise once you begin painting. To me it’s like solving a puzzle game, piece by piece, until it is finished. And I love puzzle games!
How long does it take for you from idea to finished piece?
The time to finish a cover depends on overall complexity of the artwork. If I count by the hours worked on it, I’d say it can span from three days to a week or two, this includes reading time. With Elise, she gives me at least a month and a half until the deadline. It’s up to me how to manage my own time of course.
Do you have any tips for aspiring cover designers?
To design a cover is different from painting an illustration, I think. I can only speak from my experience but when and before I even begin illustrating for the covers, I make sure my dimensions are specific and correct. I also keep in mind the bleeds and such to remind me not to put anything important around the sides. With that said when it comes to cover design, I think the most important would be a proper composition. When it comes to the illustration principle however, make sure to keep the ideas relevant and unique for the story. You want to create something that people will remember, in other words, iconic.
How long have you done cover designs?
I’ve been freelancing since I was in college. But with covers, not long. Elise was my first client when it comes to cover illustrations. There are now others, all my thanks to her.
Thank you so much Merilliza for doing this interview!
Merilliza Chan is based in Manila,Philippines and she is always looking for fun collaborative projects and would love to hear what you have to say, so feel free to contact her anytime!