Designer Interview: Melody Simmons

Welcome Melody! How did you become a Book Cover Designer?
After completing my Graphic Design college degree I was working for a company and started designing book covers on the side for friends. This quickly turned into a full-time occupation and my cover design website was launched in 2011 – a decade ago

What part of book cover design do you find most compelling?
I love being able to create attractive beautiful images that also sell books.

Do you have any “fur babies” who assist in your design process? 
I am never alone. As anyone with similar small-breed dogs will know one needs guards for toilet breaks and my Yorkie/Maltese mix and Shih-Tzu do not disppoint!

Many authors are mystified about how cover designers work. What is your creative approach when taking on a new project?
I browse bestsellers within the genre with similar themes first of all. Readers want covers that fit with their favorite theme and genre, so one needs to create something with a similar feel but that is still unique. I browse available stock images and visualise how they can be manipulated. I then get to work and try out compositions. If a cover needs overpainting I will show the author the composition before starting with painting and effects.

What do authors need to know to have the best outcome when working with a professional cover designer?
I think it is essential that they become familiar with the type of covers popular in their genre. The traditional publishing houses have whole teams working on one cover – consisting of art directors, managers, designers, photographers and so on. But the self-publishing author does not have all that – he/she relies on one cover designer. I therefore feel it is important that the author also gives some input.

Do you have a favorite project in particular?
As I have been designing book covers for ten years I really cannot single out one project. In fact I design in multiple genres as variety keeps me excited.

What makes a book cover great?
Most importantly fitting in with the genre and sub-genre as readers tend to look for books that look similar to what they have read and liked. Then technical skill, the ability to stand out in thumbnail size as covers are first seen in a very small size on a screen, harmonious composition, genre-appropriate typography and a good color scheme.

Do you have a favorite genre or theme to design for and why is your favorite? Or if you’ve niched into a specific genre, why did you pick that genre?
I design in multiple genres. As mentioned before I have been designing for ten years so I think that with just one genre I would become rather bored. I love that I have a variety of about ten genres that I often design for – Historical Romance, Cozy Mystery & Paranormal Women’s Fiction, Urban Fantasy (and a little Fantasy also), Paranormal Romance, Thriller & Mystery, Science Fiction Romance, Contemporary Romance (including Military Romance), Sweet / Clean Romance, Historical Fiction and Romantic Suspense.

Where do you see the future of book cover design and indie publishing headed?
I see it continuing to grow as it has over the last decade. It is very exciting as there are so many new opportunities. I remember how difficult it was to publish an audiobook about ten years ago before ACX even existed. Back then I actually wrote three books whilst I was a student, and to get them into audio format I would have had to hire a private company which in the end I could not afford. Now the process is so easy and affordable. However as with all fields in life publishing is also very competitive, which is why good book covers are so essential.

You’ve also published books as an author. Which came first? 
I’m a qualified graphic designer first – but I did publish three books and that gave me a lot of insight into the process authors have to go through.

What do you do when you’re not designing? Any hobbies?
Dogs and kids keep me busy enough!

What’s your proudest career achievement so far?
Having had books with my covers in the Top 100 on Amazon in their respective genres for every single genre that I design for.

What’s on the horizon for you?
I love what I do and am grateful to continue! I always upgrade my skills and keep updated with cover trends.

You can follow Melody here:

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