Now that author Ian Thomas Healy and I have agreed on the costume design for the characters to be featured on the cover of his upcoming super-hero novel "Jackrabbit", the next step is to decide on a general layout/design. To do that, the designer (that's me!) will rapidly sketch out a number of rough, small drawings to convey the overall concept. These are called thumbnails and the idea is to generate lots of ideas in a hurry. It's not unusual to do dozens of these, but in the interest of time I'm only posting a few.
I just sent these to Ian earlier today. In the limited discussion so far, we already decided that if we were to do a tag line, "Frolic, Cavort, and Kick Ass" is a little too blue for him to be comfortable with, so we'd probably change it to "Frolic, Cavort, and Kick People in the Head". If we do one at all.
The trick to doing these covers is that they have to fulfill a number of criteria. One, they have to be clearly legible and attractive at the small size seen on Amazon.com. Thin, spidery titles or colors that are too muddy don't work -- in my opinion, you have to go for something very iconic and poster-like. It's not like a comic book cover that's traditionally much larger and seen at close range.
Second, you have to convey what the book is about with just a glance. Most people zip through online stores, barely registering the majority of suggestions. You need to be able to capture their interest immediately and concisely. When they see it in this case, it has to instantly say "Super Hero Novel" to them visually.
And finally, it has to look cool & professional. I suspect a lot of people are still wary about self-published books and you need to separate yourself from the more amateur stuff out there that gives people concern.
Having said all that, here's what I've come up with so far. I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of these.