How To Design Your Cover: Making the If The Dress Fits Cover

New book coming out this October, and I'm so EXCITED. I love creating the covers of my books, and I have to admit, I had a lot of fun doing it for If the Dress Fits. And I'm really happy the book's cover has gotten a lot of love too!

Want to find out how I made the cover? Keep reading!

Step One: Look Up Other Books

The story is modern, fun, and is more character-driven than I am used to writing. I wanted the cover to kind of convey that, and to show that this is a contemporary romance book. I wanted to see what other, similar books looked like, so of course I looked them up on Amazon. I liked the feel of the British Chick lit covers, the ones that are mostly art, but when you look up 'plus size' romance books, erotic covers pop up, usually featuring gorgeous plus size models with raised legs, which was too steamy for me. I wanted something kind of in between--artsy, but still very contemporary.

It's important to look at the other books that are similar to yours, just so you know how to stand out when people look up keywords of your work.

Step Two: Find your inspiration

So with that in mind, I thought about the layout of the cover. How can I make it stand out? I browsed movie covers (another good source), looked up how books are usually presented to find the 'angle' I wanted for the book.

I was actually browsing Pinterest when I found the inspiration. The thing I like about Pinterest is when you're looking up fashion pics to pin, looking at it from your board makes it look like a magazine spread. Very cool, and very chic. I love the idea of 'captured' fashion photos, and I thought it would fit in nicely with what I wanted for the book.


Step Three: Create your elements

I thought, what if I made my cover like a Pinterest page? Having my MC and LI in different outfits, in their element? So I looked up plus sized girl poses, worked out the 'looks' I wanted and carefully painted them all. The original plan was to paint six of Martha and six of Max, but I reassessed, and given my time and the amount of work I still had to do for the book, three was the better option (notice the one that didn't make it to the cover!).

Cover progress 4/6 !!!

— Carla de Guzman (@somemidnights) August 10, 2016

Step Four: Titles, Chapter Titles and Chapter Illustrations

The title itself was a bit of an issue, because it's quite long, and I had little space. After some consultations with the designer (my sister Gabbie, who is brilliant!), we decided on the serif design of the title--keeping the curve in the 'the' because I definitely wanted the cover to be sweet and girly.

I watched this Skillshare video by Mary Kate McDevitt, and she said that the chapter titles of your book are just as important as the cover. Good chapter titles keep the story's feel consistent, and makes the book seem more well thought out. So to keep with the girly + artsy look of the book, I did chapter illustrations, while Gabbie created these beautiful calligraphed chapter names for the print edition!

These chapter titles, tho. Gorgeous! Thank you @gabbiedeguzzie <3

— Carla de Guzman (@somemidnights) September 26, 2016

Step Five: Bonus items

I love that #romanceclass has its own branding identity and logos, and adding them to the print edition cover was obvious. But for the spine, I wanted something that wasn't white, as my other books have been. I turned to my blog for inspiration this time. I liked the idea of it tying up to my 'brand' (lol), so I used the same pale pink in the spine as my blog, with the same font for the title. It's a verrry minor detail, but hey, why not?

So that's it! Minus the technicalities, this was how I created the cover for my book!

A photo posted by Carla de Guzman (@somemidnights) on Oct 5, 2016 at 5:57am PDT

Get If The Dress Fits, on Amazon, Smashwords and print editions (available from the author!)

Thoughts on Selling Print Books

Last weekend, we went out and sold things at the BGC Art Mart! It was 22 Luna's first bazaar event, and I sold a few books there.

Just to compile my thoughts/insights on book selling, I'm bullet-pointing them here:

  • Everything I learned in business school suddenly rushed back here. Marketing, Sales, Operations, GAH.
  • My sisters did this brilliant thing where they said 'Hi!' to everyone who approached their table. No sales pitch, no product description (yet). I noticed when they did this, they were able to engage people in conversation and see what they really liked. It sounds like a normal thing, but not all the tables were doing this.
  • I generally have bigger print book sales that ebook sales. Not just in amount, obviously, but in sheer number. The interest is definitely there, it's just a little hard to get it out.
  • Get ready to say goodbye to your browsing copies. People will bend that thing into submission just to check it out.
  • Everyone seemed genuinely surprised when I said that (1) I, the author, was the one selling the books that I published myself, that (2) I'm Filipino and that (3) I'm not a Lit Major. Only goes to show that there are still a lot of people who don't know about us!
  • People did this really cute thing where they saw my books and say to their friends, 'uy oh, Marry Me!' or just kind of mutter the title under their breath. This happened specifically for Marry Me, Charlotte B! and not Cities, but it was the book that sold more. So good titles and good covers definitely matter!
  • Questions I was asked, "M'am kayo talaga nagsulat nito?" "Coloring book ba ito?" "Can I get this in bookstores?" "Ay, novel to??" "Dalawa palang books mo?"
  • A lot of Moms spoke to me about how their daughters/kids were aspiring writers too, and maybe I would want to talk to them about self-publishing, just to motivate them to keep writing? Ninangs also, who give books to their inaanaks. :P
  • I wrote a little 'intro' on the books written as 'If you me!' (inspired by the Speed reading!) This brought a lot of people, but I still have a lot of stocks left. I think they weren't expecting to find someone selling books at an ArtMart?
  • Random fact. A couple of Indian families bought my books and happily told their friends. I thought it was really sweet. Other nationalities tended to just look at the books and move on.
  • Everyone asked me to sign their book copies! Not easy when you used cling wrap...whoops.
  • Cities generally sold more, because I wrote the magic 'h-word' in the introduction. All women, some mothers asking if it was appropriate for their younger daughters (yes!).
  • People holding Fully Booked/Book themed bags looked at the books, but didn't buy them. Not sure if this was a preference thing or the books themselves? Observation only.
  • Buyers were from their early teens to early-30s, plus mothers and the occasional husband/dad who wanted to buy it for their kids/wives.
  • There was a guy who was writing a children's book for his daughter (based on a story he tells her every night)  and asked for my help finding a printer and my heart kinda melted. <3
  • Sunday sales were MUCH slower than Saturday. Not sure if it's because we changed places or the crowd?
  • I ran out of cards, though! Does that mean anything?
  • Would I do this again? Yes! I think I did pretty well, despite the long lulls where I was wondering 'omg what if my books suck??' and distracted myself by meeting other artists.  But probably not for two days, and with more titles! Happy to say there's room for us out there. :)

Figrun: A Book Sharing Event

Who knew that these things could actually happen? Last Saturday, I was invited by The Dream Shirt (check out their stuff!) to Firgun, a book sharing event to raise money for the kids of Wawang Capiz in Bulacan.

The event was held at Local Edition Coffee in Legaspi Village--I love their paper cut decor!

I was asked to talk a bit about how Cities was published, and what one would have to do if they wanted to be a published author too! I talked about the three personas that are required for a self-published author (maybe more on that next time) and answered a few questions from the attendees.

I had to say, I was all kinds of flattered. The event was fun too!  I've got three new books in my shelf waiting to be read, and made a few new friends.