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Hi and welcome to the Library of Erana, please tell us a little about yourself. I’m Mia Darien. I am a Jill of Many Trades…although mostly in the worlds of words.

You are a cover designer, what made you decide to get into this line of work? Honestly? Because it’s fun. I like messing around with Photoshop and graphic images. I started making my own book covers, and decided I wanted to do it for others.

Can you tell us about some of the covers you’ve designed and authors you’ve worked with? (Name of books, authors you’ve worked with etc.) I’ve been happy to do covers for BR Kingsolver, author of the Telepathic Clans Saga, as well as Delancey Stewart, Jessica Nicholls, Crystal G. Smith, and Diana L. Wicker, the Tales from Feyron series. Kingsolver’s was particularly fun because I got to make a woman cast lightning from her hands.

Can you tell us what is involved? (I have no clue so you can be as elaborate as you like!) It starts with the author and their images for the cover. Usually, I get images from them, but if not, I’ll scour stock photo sites for stuff. Send them download previews, make concept drafts, which look awful but give the idea. Then when we strike on a concept we like, I take the images and make the prettier version. I send each iteration to the author, who may suggest changes, and once the author is happy, they get their cover art.

Software used – where you source your images, how long a cover takes etc. I use Adobe Photoshop, get the images from the author or from BigStockPhoto.com. The time a cover takes varies on how hard it is, how complex, etc., can be anywhere from thirty minutes to several hours.

Where does your inspiration come from? Do you read the book first, then come up with a design, or can you produce something from an author’s description? I can’t possibly always read the book before working on a cover. I just don’t always have the time, so I work entirely from the author’s ideas and description, bouncing them between us and then the draft images until we settle on something the author is happy with. If I have read the book, however, I’ll offer what suggestions and input I can.

What are your thoughts on ‘generic’ covers – such as a sword or throne and skulls for fantasy, or interchangeable torsos for romance? I don’t like them as much, but I can understand why they’re used.

When you buy a book do you look at the cover first? What else attracts you? What turns you off? The cover is always the first draw. You can’t JUDGE a book by its cover, but it is your first impression of it. I like covers that evoke an emotion, or curiosity. That are well put together. I tend to like people on covers, but it’s not a requirement. Honestly, I’ve become a bit of a cover snob. Books with covers that obviously didn’t have much thought or time put into them, or seemingly care of any kind, will turn me away.

What advice would you give to anyone starting out in this line of work or who might want to design a cover? Learn the software past the basics. You don’t need to be an expert, but learn what you’re doing. Otherwise, just start playing. Start that way and you learn how things work, then you get it.

What are your thoughts on sites like Fiverr where people can buy covers cheaply? Do you think they encourage substandard or very generic images? I’m not familiar with the site, actually. I don’t know that it does encourage those things. It may, but I try not to judge. As long as the cover can at least look put together, a less expensive or “generic” cover isn’t always bad.

Do you have a genre you prefer? Not really. I’m happy to do any kind of cover.

Please tell us about your favourite image and the favourite cover you have worked on?One of my favorite covers was actually one of my own, for “Welcome to Adelheid,” namely because the woman in the stock photo didn’t have a shirt under the jacket which was partially open down the front. Since the books aren’t romance, I didn’t want to mislead readers. So I created a shirt and almost no one (that’s told me, at least) was able to tell.  I’ve always been proud of that.

 Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? When I have a patch of free time, I like to play World of Warcraft. I tend to shout things at my characters, other people’s characters, animals in the area…

Blog/website links etc.

http://www.miadarien.com

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