Guest Blog: John Prescott

Getting a Nice Book Cover

Hi everyone, John Prescott here, Author, Art Director of Dark Continents Publishing, Inc., and President of White Silver Publishing, Inc. I also wear many other hats in the above corporations as well, but dealing with art is my specialty. Well, maybe not my specialty but it’s my greatest love other than writing.  I want to take a few moments of your time to help you if you’re writer and you’re in need of a book cover.  The little blog below is aimed to give you some tips and pointers I’ve learned over years. I hope they help you and I hope you get the cover you desire for you book.

So, you’ve labored over your short stories or novel and now it’s time to put it all together.  You need a book cover! Most people get that starry eyed look when they think of their book cover, but when it comes down to actually getting the actual work done that starry eyed look turns to sheer panic.  Relax, it’s not that hard. It’s not really that hard at all.

The first question you need to ask yourself is what part of the book do you want your cover to convey? A main action scene? An overall theme to the book, or just a picture that sets the tone for the book?  These are very important questions to take into account.  Please don’t skip over them lightly!

I am going to take the liberty of guessing that you haven’t won the Powerball Lottery and you are on a thin to hardly non-existent budget. Never fear, it’s ok! If you have won the Powerball, please hire someone to be your art director and do your cover from start to finish. I say this only because there are thief’s out there in the art world just as there are in every other facet of this working world. So choose wisely!

Now, for those of us on a budget there is a website called Flikr it’s a photo sharing site that is world wide. If you have a general idea about the cover you want go there and type in your key words and pictures will come up and have a look at them. It’s a pretty fair chance that you will find something to your liking.  The next step would be is to create an account so you can contact the photographer and see if they would be interested in letting you use their photograph for your book cover. Most are overly excited that you want to use their photograph. Some may charge you a small fee, but usually it’s nominal; about the cost of dinner from any fast food restaurant. But some will let you use it for free with the exception of a copy of the book sent to them.

Please keep in mind if you plan on altering the photograph any, please make sure you ask them about this first.  That is their photograph and I don’t think anyone would like someone alerting something they took the time to create or take a nice professional picture.

What’s that you say? Don’t believe people use Flickr? Bah, here is my first short story collection, Before Sunrise. This photograph I found on Flickr and contacted the photographer and all I had to do was send him a book for letting me use it. My process was the same as mentioned above. Yes, it’s really that simple! So don’t be afraid to ask for a picture.

You want another example? Here is another short story collection that I used the same process.  The book was originally going to have an artist do the cover, but due to family illnesses with the artist I had to go another route in getting a cover. This short story collection is debuting late this fall and it’s under the Dark Continents Publishing, Inc. house. See, professionals use this service and so should you!  This photograph has about 30% alteration to the original. I did contact the photographer and got her permission to do so.

Ok, so you are not wanting a photograph for a book cover, so now what? Now you have to find an artist to do your cover for you. So where do you find one of those? You would be very surprised, you can find them anywhere.  Do you have a college in your city or town? I am sure they have an Art Department and what fledgling young freshman or senior wouldn’t want one of their paintings on a book cover to put in their portfolio when they take the plunge in the big wide world? Another avenue is Facebook.  There are hundreds of artists on this networking/social media website. Many are just wanting a chance to get their work out into the public eye, and there are industry professionals as well on the site. Another tip don’t be afraid to trade services. The artist may need a professional bio written, or descriptive text written for his artwork, and in you would be! If you do go the route of hiring a professional well known artist be prepared to pay for their services; in the range of $800.00 all the way up to $5,000.00 for a cover painting! Since I’m right here I want to take a minute and explain the rights you have for your painting you commissioned.  You the author will have use of the artwork to use on your book cover, and advertising of the book.  You do not own the copyright to the painting unless you agree to buy all rights for the commissioned piece. So, all this means is that you can’t make and sell prints of just the artwork. The artist retains the right to make prints and sell them at his digression.  Be prepared to pay dearly for full rights to the painting if you use a professional artist. This and any other things you feel should be covered about the painting should be gone over with the artist before he/she starts the first process of thumbnails for your cover.  Thumbnails are miniature rough drawing of how the cover will look. The artist will make several and have you choose which one you like best.  Remember once you ok this thumbnail that picture is what you’re going to get.  So make sure you absolutely love it; especially if you’re paying top dollar for your cover art.

Ok, so now you have your cover art, you need text for the title and your name on the book. We call this text, Typography or Type and I can’t stress enough how much this will either hurt your book or make it look spectacular. You want your book to look professional and attractive enough for someone passing by to want to pick up your book and look at the cover and then want to flip through its pages. I want to stress again to take some time and search the web for simple Type tutorials and get a basic understanding of how Type works and how it doesn’t.

Typography deals with a lot of common sense as well.  For example if your first book is a cook book you don’t want to have big gothic letters for the title unless maybe it’s a cook book for the gothic scene.  I have included a few links below that has some basic tutorials on how type functions with other type and for design.

If you still feel uneasy about doing your title font and author font Facebook comes through again. There are hundreds if not thousands of layout designers out there. Search well and hard and find someone who you feel comfortable working with and most importantly you like their work.  Don’t be afraid to ask for samples of their previous work.

You have your cover art, got your type finalized and now you need to put it all together.  I would suggest that book layout be done to those who have experience with this. This can become a very tedious process and if you don’t know what you’re doing you will become lost and become extremely frustrated fairly quick.  But, there are plenty of services that will layout your book for you, but…why not ask the person who did your type for your book, it’s a pretty good guess he or she has experience with this aspect of the process and if he or she doesn’t I am willing to bet they know someone who does! So don’t be afraid to network, that’s one of the biggest potentials of Facebook is the networking aspect of it, and I think many people don’t recognize that aspect of that social media website.

Well, that’s it wrapped up in a few short pages. I do hope this helps those who are interested or needing a book cover done. I wish you the best success in getting an outstanding looking cover for your book! Thanks for your time.

I want to thank, Misty Rayburn for letting me be a guest blogger on her website. Thanks, Misty I had a blast!

If you would like to see more of my work in book cover design you can go to and view all of our books. I had a hand in all of their design except for the two poetry books, Anamolous Appetites, and Blood Curry.


 John Prescott lives in the deep South with his wife Edie, son Grafton Caine, and their two cats. He loves to spend time with his family, take long walks, and draw, and he is, of course, an avid reader. He somehow finds time to umpire baseball and softball and be an art director. He also has a website dedicated to his writing at He is a founding member of Dark Continents Publishing, Inc., . John’s first short story collection, Before Sunrise has met with great success. He also headed a short story collection from authors around the world entitled, M is for Monster. His first novel, Pray has met with even greater success. He is currently at work on the follow up sequel to Pray, HELL while also workin on other multiple projects for future publication.


Synopsis: The year is 2016, and America is no more. The United States, Canada, and Mexico now comprise a single, unified front to the world: the North American Union. Implanted ID chips are soon to become mandatory for every citizen of the NAU, and Trez Sleighton, a disgruntled ex-Army officer, takes to the mountains of Colorado to come to terms with the changing world—and his own hand in the whole mess.

Then sounds the trumpet.

Around the planet, people simply disappear.

In their wake, monsters of legend suddenly roam free to terrorize those who have been left behind. The legendary Nephilim, half-angels who struggle with their own demons, walk the earth in both darkness and light. The world’s most beloved celebrity, movie star Samouel Gallo, comes forward to make a long-awaited announcement that might mean world peace—or world damnation.

Meanwhile, a handful of the remaining citizens of the NAU feel the call to go west. Stricken by the loss of their loved ones, alienated by the inhumanity that has consumed their cities, these select few are moved by an inexplicable impulse to converge on a small town tucked away in the Rocky Mountains… a town most of them have never even heard about. As their paths turn toward Shaleford, CO, where Trez is struggling to understand an apocalyptic truth, the rest of the world waits to hear what tidings Samouel Gallo will bring. Is he the man of legend—a Bringer of Peace? Is he the archenemy of old? Is he… the Antichrist?

Open the pages of Pray and journey with those who set out to fight for their salvation as the world races to its horrific conclusion.

The Book of Revelation just got scarier.

Buy it now at:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Misty graduated from Capital University in 2005 with a degree in English Literature. She is an avid reader and is the owner of The Top Shelf

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Misty graduated from Capital University in 2005 with a degree in English Literature. She is an avid reader and is the owner of The Top Shelf