Our guest blogger today is Julie Medina of Garland, Texas. AYearWithoutKilling- FINAL

She designed the cover for my third novel, A Year Without Killing, and I thought

it would be interesting to hear about her work and how she views book marketing.




Ever get that question?

I do, sometimes, when people ask me what I “do” and I say I do book covers (and book interior layout).

Sometimes I get a half-blank look with the question: “What kind of book covers?”

Then I like to say: the kind that jumps on you in a bookstore, the kind that stands out from the crowd and  makes you want to pick it up and read it.

It’s the weirdest thing. You see, I believe that for most people their first interest in a book is sparked by looking at its cover. Have you ever been in a bookstore, looking for a book on architecture, for example, and out of the corner of your eye a book in the Thriller section gets you to look twice?

Something in the combination of Look and Title on that cover jumped straight past your eyes and into your brain. A face, a landmark, a flower, a mood, something someone is doing –  yes, even a color.

And now you want to know what this is all about.

Someone is shooting holes into a calendar?? Who does such a thing?

Is this some kind of a countdown to off your Husband or your Wife?

Why does someone not kill for a year? Why have they killed before, and who?

Can’t speak for other people but that is pretty much what happens to me when a book cover jumps past my eyes and into my brain. That is how I like to design covers, with that extra little burst that takes them straight there.

When I begin a project, I like to learn a little about the story, the people that live in it — perhaps some pivotal moment in their lives.

Andre Le Gallo was very specific with what he wanted on the cover of his Red Cell.RedCell

In this case I tried to accommodate pretty much what the described.

Other authors are wide open and I have only the title and a brief synopsis on the story.  I think those are actually my favorite covers. Those give me complete creative freedom and I love that. Of course sending those covers to the author for viewing is a nail-biter every time. High stakes gambling in Las Vegas couldn’t be anymore exciting when the dice roll.

Washboard RoadI drew four aces with Heartsongs From a Washboard Road by Roger Summers and won the Jackpot with CrissCross by Dale Fowler.CrissCross

Designing a book cover (or an entire book) is a little like having a baby. You worry, You want it to be beautiful and perfect and you want everyone to love it. It has to be romantic, scary, funny, dramatic, melancholy, dark and brooding or the conveyor of hope and love, all depending on the story, and it has to almost tell the entire story in one picture.

On most projects I sift through thousands of photos until just the right one grabs my attention.  The mood, colors, and themes combine into an image or images that I think will work.

Playing around with pictures in Photoshop produces crazy good effects sometimes and can change everything about any photo and give it an entirely new “feel.” A good example for this is the Compost Pile by Stephen Woodfin. [The two photos on the left were combined to make up the final cover image.]

COMPOST CompostPile

GIRL-webAnd then, when I think the cover is what I had in mind, I send it off to the “Parent”, the author, and wait.

No problem, I check e-mail only like every 20 minutes or so! No, I do not pace!

My clients report success with every project. We work together. We don’t stop until the author is as pleased with the cover. Until then the motto is: nothing is chiseled in stone, everything and anything can be tweaked and changed.

How did I get into this crazy, exciting world of book publishing?

Thanks to my friend and former boss, Caleb Pirtle of Venture Galleries, who kept telling me that I could forget about commercial advertising now and dig deeper to find that artist he knew was in there somewhere. I hope I have succeeded.

When I was young, I dreamed of being the one who wrote the books. Well that plan did not work out. But I found something equally great. I am the one who puts a story into a picture for all the world to see.

It does not get any better than that.