Creating Covers

MY GOALS IN THIS PART OF MY PROJECT are limited and fairly focused.

One of the defining features of pulp literature, whether that be pocket paperbacks or the original pulp magazines, was their cover design. While there is no single style we can exactly pin pulp with, we don't have to look through many covers before we have a feel for them.

Painted, colourful, sometimes lurid, and frequently sensational, they did the job of catching the eye and communicating to the reader what was on offer. Sadly, the painted book cover is something that is far beyond the budgets of most modern pulp publishers, who tend to be either self or Indie publishers.

I set out trying to create covers in a fashion that both evoked the covers of the past, while keeping the likely cost as low as possible. The origin of this method lies in the work of Mike Fyles, whose tutorial on his pulp cover creations is the foundation for all that I've done here.


Let's start by defining some terms that I will use.

Full Cover: This is a complete design, including the front cover, spine, and back cover, all ready for print.

Display Cover: This consists only of the completed front cover intended for the digital publication and marketing. It may also include some additional elements, such as the fake wear and tear.

Cover Design: This refers to the overall design of the cover, not just the artwork but how all the elements fit together into an coherent design.

Cover Art: This is usually the chief element in cover designs but it has to work with typography, along with logos and other branding elements.

Typography: The text, the fonts used and how they are presented on the cover.

Primary Text: One text element will usually be dominant over the others. As a general rule, this is the title but sometimes can be the author if their name is itself a brand.

Secondary Text: Usually the author's name but, as noted above, it can be the title.

Front Copy: This includes two kinds of text element. The first is the tag line, which comprises a sentence or two to hook the readers' interest. The second is the endorsements, attributed quotes from reviewers, authors, or other notables, praising the book.

Back Copy: This includes: The back blurb, which is more extensive  than the front cover's tag line, this does a little more to sell the book, though it is unlikely to be seen unless it appears in a bricks and mortar bookshop. Endorsements may also appear but in a greater number. Finally, you may also wish to include  a list of other books in the series.

Index of Articles


Getting Started with Covers

Free Commercial Use Fonts

Font Packages from The Scriptorium

Tutorial - Building Book Cover Templates

Tutorial - First Cover

Tutorial - Underwater Stories


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