Judging a book – The joy of creating your own covers by K A Servian

One of the advantages of being an indie writer is having control over every aspect of the creative process. This also includes your book covers.

I went through the process of having the cover for my first book Peak Hill done by a professional because everything I read told me it was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, the cover that was presented to me after several weeks and quite a lot of money in no way represented my book despite my providing the designer with what I felt was an extensive brief and a mock up. Then I searched premade cover sites and while many were very nice, none were right. So, I rolled up my sleeves and, using my fifteen-year-old version of Photoshop, had a go at doing it myself.


I knew that I needed a strong image to represent the main character, Kate. After lots of searching, I purchased an illustration from Shutterstock that had the right ‘feel.’ I cropped it heavily to ensure that it differed from the original and to bring focus to the face, particularly the eye, which I coloured for further impact.

I used a font with a sense of tension because I wanted to represent the rugged landscape within which the book is set.

For my second book, a romantic thriller called Throwing Light, I found a double exposed photo of a woman’s face with trees on Shutterstock. This evocative image was perfect for the feel of the book and also worked with the plot as one of the characters becomes lost in a forest.


Fortunately, this image was wide enough to use as a wrap-around on the paperback version but also worked well for the front-only e-book view. Again, I used the font to evoke a sense of tension. The old typewriter style also represented typed police reports, which were an element in the story.

For my latest book, The Moral Compass, I went a step further. After an extensive online search for an image with a feel of isolation, that had an accurate costume (1850s), in an appropriate setting, on the right model came up blank (not really a surprise), I decided to create my own image.

Using my favourite movie, The Piano, as inspiration, I made the costume and shot the image with a couple of friends on a local beach. Because I was in control, I didn’t have to compromise on the costume, the model or the setting. Everything turned out exactly as I saw it in my head when I was writing the book. There was also the added bonus of selling the extra images we didn’t use on Shutterstock.

The Moral Compass

When designing covers I work intuitively, trying different ideas until everything ‘feels right.’ I’m not a graphic designer and I’ve probably broken dozens of design rules with my covers, but I receive a lot of positive feedback about them, so they can’t be all that bad. Most importantly, they accurately represent the images inside my head when I’m writing which beings me, and hopefully my readers, closer to my characters. I hope that this will inspire other writers to try creating their own covers too.

About the Author


An overwhelming urge to create led Kathy to pursue qualifications in both fashion design and applied design to fabric which were followed by a twenty year career in the fashion and applied arts industries and a crafting habit Martha Stewart would be proud of.

Kathy then discovered a love of teaching and began passing on the skills she’d accumulated over the years—design, pattern-making, sewing, Art Clay Silver, screen-printing and machine embroidery to name a few. 

Creative writing started as a self-dare to see if she had the chops to write a manuscript. Kathy’s first novel, Peak Hill, which was developed from that manuscript, was a finalist in the Romance Writers of New Zealand Pacific Hearts Full Manuscript contest in 2016.

Her second novel, Throwing Light was published in February 2017 and her third novel, The Moral Compass is due out in late 2017.

Kathy now squeezes full time study for an advanced diploma in creative writing around writing the sequel to The Moral Compass, teaching sewing and being a wife and mother.

K A. Servian on the web:

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The Moral CompassThe Moral Compass (Shaking the Tree Book 1)

Florence lives like a Princess attending dinner parties and balls away from the gritty reality, filth and poverty of Victorian London.

However, her world comes crashing around her when her father suffers a spectacular fall from grace. She must abandon her life of luxury, leave behind the man she loves and sail to the far side of the world where compromise and suffering beyond anything she can imagine await her. 

When she is offered the opportunity to regain some of what she has lost, she takes it, but soon discovers that not everything is as it seems. The choice she has made has a high price attached and she must live with the heart-breaking consequences of her decision. 

This novel is part one in the ‘Shaking the Tree’ series.

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