As part of an ongoing series, Confessions of a Cover Artist, every Friday, I’ll introduce readers to new cover artists whom I feel make exceptional covers. These artists must come highly recommended by their clients, so artists, please don’t apply to be featured. If you find an awesome artist, hold onto her/him. An artist who understands what the client needs is a true gem and can keep continuity with the author’s future books. Dafeenah Jameel has been highly praised by my friend and best selling YA author, Lizzy Ford. IMHO, no matter the quality the writing (and Lizzy’s books are awesome) even the best authors need appealing covers and Dafeenah has helped Lizzy and other authors achieve success.
TW: Why do you design cover art? How did you first get started?
DJ: I originally started with a small overseas publisher. I work as a translator, formatter and designer, but the books are in Urdu and Arabic. Then I met Lizzy Ford and found about the indie phenomena. It was a way for us to get our translations printed in English also. So I started cover designing for indie authors.
TW: What have you learned along the way?
TW: What mistakes, if any, did you make early on when designing covers?
DJ: I think it would take less time to list the ones I didn’t make. Cover design overseas and for the fiction US market is very different. I’ve been able to work with some very talented people who’ve helped me a lot to learn and grow as a designer.
TW: List in order, the five most important elements of a good cover.
DJ: 1. Genre specific
2. Eye catching
4.. Visible title
5. Encompasses the story
TW: What are common mistakes indie authors make when designing their own covers?
DJ: Not hiring a professional. I realize most indie authors are on a budget, so they try to design their covers themselves, and while there are areas where authors can save and do things themselves, the cover (for most people) isn’t one of those areas. If there are only two places an author spends money, then it should be for an editor and cover designer.
TW: What advice would you give to the indie author trying to design cover art?
DJ: Hire a designer. Or at least get the advice or critique of someone who is a designer. You don’t ask your plumber for stock advice so it’s best to not ask your husband/wife/companion if they think your design looks good. Chances are they’re going to tell you it’s fabulous just like they tell you those jeans don’t make your butt look big. Strangers aren’t afraid to tell you the truth. Your loved ones depend on you for dinner so they don’t want to upset you that way they don’t have to eat burnt lasagna for dinner.
TW: What’s your average turn-around time for cover art?
DJ: It depends on my schedule but for the most part I usually get first drafts within 48-72 hrs. Then it just depends on what changes are required as to when the final design is completed.
TW: What software do you use to create covers? Where do you go for images?
DJ: I have a questionnaire that I give to new clients. It asks for the summary of the book, details of the MC such as ethnicity, eye color, etc. Also I ask about some pivotal scenes in the book or quirks of the MC. Anything that I could use to portray the story. These things aren’t mandatory but the more I know about the inner workings of the book the better cover design I can do for someone.
DJ: Renee Barrat from The Cover Counts. I’m in awe of her skill and knowledge.
TW: Why do you enjoy working with indie authors?
DJ: Helping someone to realize their dream is always a wonderful thing. I’ve had some fabulous people help me in my path so it’s a way for me to pay it forward and help someone else.
Dafeenah’s website: http://www.indiedesignz.com
Dafeenah’s Portfolio: http://www.indiedesignz.com/gallery.html