Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cover Appeal with Naj Qamber

Now Presenting: 

Naj Qamber is a designer and book blogger who lives in Bahrain. Where is Bahrain you ask? We'll get to that momentarily. But first, let's talk cover design because a book without a cover is like a song without a tune, and I think it's safe to say that authors and readers lust equally after a striking cover.

Cover Do's & Don'ts


In your opinion, what makes a good cover design?
How well the content of the book reflects the cover. It's really difficult to achieve this without proper models etc., but doing this is a MUST and makes the cover brilliant in both the readers' and a designers' eyes. 

What attracts you, as a reader, to a book cover?
The first thing I notice is the colors of the book. If they're bright and colorful, I usually pick them up first. Also, covers that are all black or white with just a simple element on the cover really catches my eyes. 

Biggest Cover No-No's:

1. When the model or the entire cover is scaled tight or squished. 
     - This is the worst mistake anyone could make. Indie authors and publishing companies need to avoid this at all costs. It's the one thing EVERYONE will notice and eventually look away from the book altogether. :( 

2. When book covers don't have anything to do with the content of the book. (Covers with just text are the exception.)
      - I know sometimes this doesn't matter. BUT a lot of book reviewers take this into account and may also decrease the rating just because of the cover when the writing is what matters. To avoid that entirely just stick to the books content when designing a cover.

 3. Toooo much texture. 
   - If the content of the book is all grudgy and stuff then that's fine. But sometimes having too much texture drowns out the other elements and makes the whole look of the cover very dirty and people start to question the professionalism of the author/publisher.

4. Small bylines
  - Just coz they're bad! :DDDD big titles = better cover. 

5. NEVER use copyrighted images for covers without permission.
  - This will give you and your designer some big issues. So either ask permission to use the image, use free stock images or buy the stock images from places like iStock,, and

What can authors do to help you create the right look for their novel?

I have a new system where I send authors a requirement sheet, where they fill in information about the main character, the genre, the blurb and whatever concept they have in mind for the cover with stock examples. This sheet also helps me when they don't have anything in mind. 

The most helpful thing an author can send me for a cover is what the book is about, its genre and examples of what they want the cover to look like. :D That is all I need. But some authors can be picky and change their mind often. In those cases, I consider myself a robot. :D The good kind! 

What advice would you give to book designers just starting out?

Practice! Go and follow loads of photoshop tutorials and try to imitate some covers but in your own style with different elements. The best advice I could give you is to do the work over and over again with different covers. This kind of repetition will help you excel in book designing. Also, start a blog, website, whatever it is and post up your portfolio and go around book forums and make your presence known. This is how I go myself out there.

Now let's get personal:

So, Bahrain… I never heard of the country (or do you say Kingdom?) until I met you. Can you tell us a little bit about your home?

Yeah! I get that a lot. Bahrain just recently got out there when protesting started here and all over the GCC. So yea, Bahrain. Bahrain is a quiet, peaceful place I call home. Its a little off the coast of Saudi Arabia. There are loads of foreigners around here but not as much as Dubai. :D Nice people, a little racist at times especially towards halfies (half foreign and half bahraini) like me. It really depends on the places you're in. I'm grateful to be born here mostly because Dinar here is higher, when you convert it to dollars and our gas prices, bread and some other food products are subsidized by the government so consider us spoiled! :DDD But the education system here is kind of sucky. >.> 

What’s a typical teenager’s life like in Bahrain?

This depends on what type of group or clique you're in. I was in the halfies, filipino group. So there was a lot of walking, malling, and drama involved. Haha. I think the fact that our Filipino and Bahraini blood mixes makes us and people around us into such drama queens! :DDD But yea, Normal teenage life. I'm glad I'm out of that scene *even if I'm still 19*.
How do you find time to attend school (college?), read, review, and do design work?

A few months ago Uni wasn't as hard as it is now. So it was fairly easy to be a straight A student, read, review and design. But now that my Uni is going through reforms and made things harder. Also the fact that, I'm in my senior year and about 10 months away from graduating has made everything hectic. Especially, when we have to write up 2 theses and several other projects in between to finish up our requirements to graduate. So I usually do work, read and review all in between uni work. Yes, I am stressed out because of all four aspects at the moment. :D But I'm living it as much as I can! 

Sometimes, on twitter, you mention rioting in the streets right outside your window. Do you ever feel unsafe? 

Nope, not really. I'm used to the whole thing and theres nothing the system can't handle. Police are everywhere so the worse they can do is Tear Gas (that is if no one resists). Otherwise, everything is mostly quiet and safe. :D

What are you studying and what are your plans for the future?

I'm studying Business Informatics (yep, waaay off my line of work). My plans for the future are simple. Graduate with a Bachelors, then establish my career even more, save up for a family and a house (I want to buy land close to home and build a fabulous cozy home with a HUGE Library :DDD), then perhaps get a Bachelors in Design and maybe a Masters and a Doctorate. I want to be called "Dr. Najla Qamber" Hahahahahahahaha. :D

You have a Book Blog?! Tell us more about it.

Yes, I do! :D It's called Unputdownable Books. I started it because I tend to read and review books plus I needed a place to post up my reviews. Now, I keep it running mostly for authors. I love helping them market their books. :D Its something I enjoy doing the most (besides reading and designing).

Note: In case it wasn’t obvious, Naj was the cover designer of Entangled, my tale of witches and magic. I’ll end by saying that Naj is a joy to work with. If you love what your designer does for you, don’t forget to let them know they’re appreciated!


  1. Great interview :)
    Even though I don´t know Naj IRL. I feel like I know here. She is like the most hard working person I have ever met :) Really wish I could be more like Naj :P She is so awesome. And so good at what she does :) A 100% sweet person :)

    1. Awwwwh THank you Line! <3 You're the same as well! :D We're almost alike! *hugs*

  2. Thanks for the awesome interview. I love all the book covers!

  3. Nikki! Thank you so much for this wonderful interview! I had a fun time answering your awesome questions. :D <3 *hugs*

  4. What an awesome interview! I am a self-confessed cover-magpie so I collect pretty, shiny covers. Hence I found it interesting to see how the design process comes about!

    I feel like a bad person for only being drawn to what I find aesthetically pleasing. But it's good to know that there are others who are similar to me. Maybe I can feel less guilty now! :D