Julie Nicholls, Cover Artist - Behind the Scenes
This month I am delighted to have a visit with Julie Nicholls, via email and IMs, an English gal who now lives in Bulgaria. She and her husband wanted a quieter life, so escaped the hustle and bustle of England to a countryside filled with vineyards. Now all I need is to figure how a way to spend a few weeks with her during wine making season. Hmmm, wonder if that’s when her artistic talent kicks in the most since this one talented lady?
Julie, can you tell us a bit about your prior careers?
How long do you have? Lol. I wanted to be a graphic designer…this was in the era of no Photoshop and to become a graphic designer you needed an apprenticeship with a company. I tried…for months…nothing. One day I finally plucked up the courage to ask the man who interviewed me if my work was substandard and he replied-“NO, your work is excellent, but you’ll probably end up married and pregnant by the time you’re 18 and so we’ve chosen a young man.” And that was the end of my dreams and I started work as an account clerk! I was also a BT Operator, a BT telephone engineer, and a credit control manager…then I retired at 42. Bliss!!!
When did you decide to become a cover artist? Have you always been artistic?
I’ve always drawn or painted, from being young. I would sit for hours drawing my favorite – horses. I only have two qualifications from school, one is English Language and the other is Art. Lol. Funny I’m a writer and a cover designer, huh? After I wrote my first book, I started looking for someone to make my cover, and I was astonished at the prices. So, I opened Photoshop, which I’d been learning for a few years, and painted what I needed for my cover. It was after I met the late, John Tucker on Facebook, I started making covers for him, and other people.
Do you strive to have the cover tell what the book is about?
I try, but it’s not always possible depending on the genre, however It’s important to give the reader a hint. By working with the author, we pick out important aspects of the story to work with. For example, my own cover for Demon Within shows a man with a chain in the background. The story is about a man who isn’t sure what he is (no spoilers) but was sold into slavery when he was a boy. The tagline helps readers understand…Chains can be broken, Wounds can be healed, Can love tame, the demon within? So I try to encourage authors to have a tag line on the cover.
How do you gain basic knowledge of a book? By reading the book, or through your conversations with the author?
I would like to say I read, however, I don’t. I chat with the author to find out what THEY think the cover should have on it, and then after some brainstorming, we can work together to bring the image that’s in their head to mine, and then onto the cover. Sometimes author don’t have any ideas, which is actually sometimes better for me, because then I can be free and come up with my own ideas and I’m free from restrictions. I make pre made covers…and a lot of my clients ask why they can’t have something like that for their covers. The answer is, let me have the freedom, don’t give me a list of things that you want in the cover.
Do you work with publishers and self-published authors? If so, is there a difference in the process?
Yes, I work with both and no, there is no difference. My prices are extremely good and I have one price with the exception of loyalty rewards.
What is the average number of revisions you do for a cover?
Haha!! Depends on how difficult the author is!! No, seriously, sometimes an author has an idea and when they see it in the flesh, so to speak, it’s not working for them and they want it changing. Usually we can get it right after two sessions. The small tweaks with fonts and colors are necessary because what appeals to one, doesn’t always have the same effect on the other.
Is there additional promotion items included in the cover price?
The price of the cover is just for the eBook. The additional services I offer are all extra but I do bundles and give discounts.
Do you use art work from sites, or are there times when you can’t find what you want and create your own?
There have been times when I needed a certain image which is not available as a photo, ie – dragon. I have only ever painted two dragons, one for myself and one for a client. Mythological creatures are not something I have the time or skills to create, and the eBook price does not cover a full digital painting – it covers only manipulations of stock images and moderate painting.
What are a few of your favorite covers you have designed?
You can always tell which are my favorite covers because I get very excitable and giddy about revealing them! I have to keep checking with the author for the release date, because sometimes they are not published until months after. I have to say my own personal covers are some of my favorites, because they’re paintings, however there are a few that I am especially proud of.
Where can authors reach you if they want to discuss your designing a cover for them?
The best place is via Facebook as I’m on there everyday. My official website is www.julienicholls.com
Columnist Lizzie T. Leaf: Award winning author, Lizzie T. Leaf started life in Kansas, sprung to adulthood in North Carolina, and currently shivers through the winters in Colorado.
Since discovering the fun of writing paranormal, she plays with creating vampires, faeries and other immortals. When she needs a touch of reality, her Contemporary Erotic Romances come into play. Her most recent release is Nordic Heat, available at http://amzn.to/1owng5k
If she’s not creating mischief for paranormal beings, or getting under the covers with her erotic heroes, she can be found exploring the other genres she wants to write. She is a member of RWA and has served as President for the Heart of Denver Romance Writers and VP of Programs.
Lizzie loves to read, spend time with her family and travel with her best friend husband.