Interview with Cover Artist Nika Dixon

About the Buried Treasure Cozy Covers
Nika Dixon, cover artist, answers my questions.

Please note: Nika is a great cover designer for all genres, including steamy romances and Red Rose Publishing, which are shown on her web pages. I am very happy with her designs for my inspirational cozy mystery covers.

Nika Dixon is a freelance writer who graduated with a degree in broadcasting and spent years working in the television industry before expanding her role to include that of a part-time educator and college professor. She teaches both graphic design and web development and also consults with corporate clients on using social networking for business. Nika is also a published romantic suspense author.

Hi, Nika. How did you become a book cover designer? What is your training?
I have always been a cover junky. Whenever I’m at the bookstore, library, or online looking for reads, I ALWAYS start with the cover. If the cover looks cheesy or badly designed, I can only assume the story is equally bad, and I won’t go any further. Yes, I could possibly be missing the most amazing story or author I’ve ever found, but I’ll never read it because I can’t get past the front of the book.

I began designing covers when my first manuscript was picked up for publishing. After digging through some of the published cover designs, my internal artist was turned off by how many covers were being released with no thought to design. Bad layering, misused image placement, terrible text choices.... It makes me cringe to see some of the designs people are showcasing as ‘professional’.

Not wanting to take any chances with my own cover, I submitted my own design then offered my services to the publisher to help give artists a more professionally designed cover. I’ve worked in web design for over twelve years, and I teach it at a college level, so it was easy to put some of the same practices to use.

What are the most fun and least fun parts about the job? What is your idea of a perfect design?
In my opinion, the perfect design is a cover that pulls your eye in right off the start. It makes you physically pause just to look at the image.

This is what I want to provide for my authors.

When the writer is pleased with the cover, they’re going to showcase it. They’ll put it on their blog, email it to their friends, make bookmarks and postcards. Having your name associated with a design the owner loves is the best publicity an artist can ask for, and one of the greatest things about designing.

On the flip side, it is incredibly painful when a writer is so insistent on having a certain cover design that they refuse to take any advice. There have been times when I’ve asked a publisher to leave my name off as the cover artist because I refused to be associated with the writer’s decision on the final product. It seems harsh, yes, but at the same time I want to make sure my name is recommended for good, solid cover designs. Because I work freelance, my name is my brand, and it’s important to me to make sure I’m properly represented.

Do you prefer to start with the author, the publisher, or your own ideas that represent the book?
I never start a book cover without attempting to talk to the author first. Sometimes they answer, sometimes they don’t. Either way I always send an introductory email before starting the base image.

Whenever I’m able to open a dialogue with the writer, the cover always turns out much better than if I just designed based on what they’ve filled out in their Cover Request form. Some authors have a clear idea in their head of what they want, others are open to suggestion based on the topic of their book.

Because we work strictly with royalty-free stock images, it can be difficult to find the perfect image, but most of my clients are willing to flex with the look if they know the final product will be the best representation they can get.

How often do you read the books you for which you design the cover? Or go and buy them later, or recommend them to friends?

As a cover designer, I must read the summary and the clip of the story to get an idea of what the book is about before I can propose a valid design. There have been times when the summary or snippet has caught my attention enough that I have indeed purchased the book just to continue reading!

Thank you for that behind-the-scenes look at a cover artist’s methods.

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