Anatomy of a cover

So I thought to coincide with my latest release (and as a way to procrastinate writing – sorry!), I’d explain the process I usually go through on one of my covers. In this case I’ll use the cover for the upcoming sequel to “Anything He Wants”.

First off, I’ll start out by saying that I’m not any kind of professional. I use a free download of GIMP to work most of my images. That said, here’s a taste of what goes into designing a cover.

Half the battle is finding a good cover image. Okay, 95% of the battle really. Stock photo sites (123RF and Dreamstime are my favorites as they’re the “cheapest”) give a wide variety of images but the search function is limited to an image’s tags so you have to go through pages and pages to find what you’re looking for. iStockphoto can be one of the pricier venues and of course that’s where I find the perfect picture:

[Original stock photo]

The image is black and white, and while I like that look it’s not what I’m after for a cover. I’ll need to use the GIMP Colorize tool to adjust the values. This takes some tinkering with the RGB values, sharpening the Contrast and Saturation meddling, and finally meddling with the Burn/Dodge tool to darken/lighten areas. Voila, you have a colored background image:

Pretty to be sure, but not done. My hero has green eyes that I want to pop, so I add a layer then manually paint in the eyes. The heroine also looks washed out with her lips so similar to her skin tone so I add a bit of red there, adjusting the opacity of that separate layer until it’s about right. I do a few blond highlights on the heroine just to add color (although it’s hard to notice as I kept that layer very opaque):

So I have a background image. Awesome, and it looks really tasty! Now for titles etc.

Hmm, the white word is getting lost in the background so I create another layer to add a black backdrop, making it partially opaque:

Better definitely but now we’ve lost the possessive hand. So I toyed with a few options, deleting portions of the black to let the background image shine through, but now it looks choppy. No longer in love with the idea, I delete that black bar and start anew, using the Airbrush tool around the back of the more curlicue spots and the edges of white-on-light.

*blink* Wow. I think I have a winner! (Seriously, it always amazes me when a cover comes together) I might tweak a few things between now and publication (the non-ornate font at the bottom looks bland to my eye) but it’s pretty set in stone otherwise. Now to get cracking on the story!

What do you guys think?

Promo update, and new release: “Back In The Groove”

For the sake of experimentation with Amazon’s KDP Select program, I’ve decided to make “Anything He Wants” exclusive through Amazon/Kindle for the next three months. I’m hoping the free promo days will help my fledgling career, plus I love giving out stuff anyway.

UPCOMING FREE PROMO: “Anything He Wants” will be free on Amazon for two days, APRIL 28 and 29. Mark your calendars and tell your friends, let’s make this day memorable boys and girls!!! ;-D ;-D


I’m also excited to announce my second release. This story was meant to be a “palate cleanser” writer-wise, something different than my AHW series, but I totally fell in love with the characters and, well, I’m already in love with San Diego. ;D You can call this my own little love letter to that southern California oceanside town! (and no, this one is definitely not exclusive through Amazon)


Still recovering from a nasty divorce, Alice Mackenzie has returned home to San Diego to try and pick up the pieces of her life. The time away underscored for the divorcee how much has changed since she left, and how she herself has changed from the carefree young girl that used to roam the shores of the beaches.

But a chance meeting with a former neighbor who still remembers her very well leads to a welcome home she never expected. James “Dickie” Hardgrove grew up next to Alice and had a crush on the older girl that lasted long after she left the seaside town for almost fifteen years.

They’ve both grown up since their last meeting: Alice is afraid she’s lost the vibrancy she once had forever, but James still sees the beautiful girl he never forgot, and will do whatever it takes for her to see it too.

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Thanks for stopping by Sara Writes Erotica, my humble little home on the interwebz. I’m a California girl but have seen the world thanks to the military, am an avid adventure motorcyclist (touring and tinkering), hate beer and wine but love the hard stuff, and want nothing more in the world than to travel for a living. I’m the author of the bestselling erotic romance series “Anything He Wants” and hope to expand my catalog soon to include more tales of strong Alpha men and the women they adore. I’ll also be announcing promotions and freebies here so check back, you might find something that will spark your interest.