A.J. Corza, GotYouCovrd, Guest Contributor

A.J. Corza’s Got You Covered – This Week’s Cover – “My Hero” by Max Vos – Cover Art by… Hey! A.J. Corza

I wasn’t actually going to post anything of my own up for review, ever, because to me it seems kind of self-serving. But there is a reason I changed my mind. However, let me clarify first that this is in no way the best cover of the week. I tend to be very hard and hypercritical of my work and while I think this one is pretty good, it’s a lot worse than others. Which I suppose is probably just about a normal reaction for anyone being faced with their own work. But since I did have a cover on a book that was reviewed this week I realized this would be a great opportunity for me to be able to illustrate photo manipulation a bit more on point without stepping on toes or purely guessing at what the artist might have done.

So this is me. I actually do covers. I’m not just a pain in the ass. Isn’t that nice to know?

This is a cover I did for the wonderful author Max Vos for his bestselling book My Hero.  I am so very lucky to work with Max, because not only is he easy to work with but he allows me to play. In fact, he thinks it’s a lot of fun to see what I can come up with and how close I can get to his vision without actually reading the book.  Plus, he’s got definite ideas about what his guys are supposed to look like, and he’s open to discussing the pros and cons with me about what might sell and what might not.  I try very hard to be open to my authors thoughts because I’m honest enough with myself to realize that I don’t know it all. I wish I did, but damn that humanity of mine!

I do try to keep my eyes open for new trends and opportunities for my authors, but seeing as how trends change all the time, I obviously can’t see it all and maybe my author found something cool that I would love seeing.  Above all I’m selling my author first, and then me. At least that’s my philosophy.

Note to authors: don’t be afraid to suggest things to your artist. They may not always use it as is, but they may be able to adjust it to fit. Not only that, but it gives us a clearer picture of the tone you’d like to set with your cover. If you have a horror novel, you wouldn’t put a beige cover on it, would you? Probably not, unless it was that creepy faded, peeling wallpaper look for a ghost story, but you get my point.

Anyhow, back to the cover. I’ll point out what I really don’t like that I pretty much just noticed. I don’t like the shadow under the pennant. I have no idea why I put that on there so dark. Knowing me I bumped it by accident and obviously didn’t notice. I kinda hope that most people don’t even notice. So do me a favor and look away. :)

Next on the list, see how the title is large? Now, Max sent me a wonderful article about the fact that if you look at New York Times Bestselling books, the titles are never that big. I don’t honestly know which books she’s looking at because Dan Brown’s titles are plenty big, but that aside, it seems to me that she’s leaving out a critical fact about title size. We are and have been, as a society, moving definitively into an age where more and more people are buying Kindles, iPads, etc., and are buying their books online more than in the bookstore.  Ever try to actually see some of the titles of classic books online, in a list such as every online book site has?  The title is very small and occasionally hard to read. I’m lucky enough to have 20/20 vision, but a vast majority of people do not. This has to be a key component of a title now days. This is why the font is so crucial also. I know I harp on it a lot but this is why. YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO READ IT at this size:   
as well as this size:

See how I did that? Even as the picture is getting a bit blurry, you can still read the title and the author. Plus, I used a fancier font and a more fun font, but you can still see them both. NOTE TO ARTISTS: NEVER EVER, EVER use more than 3 fonts on a cover. This is a rule of thumb for graphic artists on any project. Otherwise it gets muddy and messy looking. I never go over that rule. I try to keep it to two for the most part because I like the authors name to be apart from the title. Not a huge amount, it has to still look nice, but they should be separate entities.

The other point I wanted to bring to attention on this cover is that I actually built the sexy hunk of football hero on the left side from the face down.  Before I go on you have to understand something first, Max adores a man with a muscular body and some chest hair/facial hair. Any artist out there that does book covers will tell you that this is not easy to come by in the stock world. Sure you can find two out of three occasionally but then you have to ask are they good looking enough to sell? Has everyone and their cousin used them on a cover already? Are they in a good body position for the cover? How’s the lighting, coloring, hair, skin, etc? All these things have to be taken into account.

And you all thought it was just us artist’s getting lucky, didn’t you? How we wish it were that easy. My guy here took no less than four men to make him.  (I forgot to put beard man on here, sorry bout that)

First I found the face which, luckily enough, was attached to a guy that had a helmet I could use. It had to be someone with dreamy eyes, brown hair, kinda rakish but handsome with that kinda devil may care confidence about him. Yep, he was the guy in the face but then I ran into a problem.  I couldn’t use his body because he was too skinny—muscles, please.  So I set out in search of another guy with the same approximate body position. You can’t just slap any ol’ body on there it makes the head look odd.

So, of course, I found that great body but alas, no chest hair. So now I had to find a guy with a similar body and steal his chest hair. I would have used his body but he wasn’t in the right position to be holding a football helmet. Oh, and did I mention that our cover guy had no facial hair to begin with? Guy number, four please step up for the beard.  So I slapped him together and ta dah, sexy football guy! Needless to say, I was very happy with the result. I don’t generally go for hairy men, but he’s pretty enough I could see my way around it if he ever came calling.

And then our swimmer. I didn’t do as much to him, just tanned him up a bit, gave him more of a sunny day by the pool look and less of a gloomy day at the beach, and changed his hair color which was dark brown originally. Sometimes you can do it without painting it, sometimes not. It depends on the color of the photo and the base color of the hair to begin with. I got lucky this time and was able to change color, add a little here, contrast a little there and et voila, the swimmer was done.

Then we put them together, make a pretty background/foreground, some bright cheerful college type font, a pinch of this, a dash of that, and we’re done.

So, that’s pretty much it for this week, if anyone is reading this week. I know you’re all gonna be a GRL partying it up, so have fun, be safe, and may the good books be with you!


All thoughts and comments are the reviewers only and not the viewpoints of others. If I’ve made you angry, stepped on any toes, or otherwise ruffled any feathers, I do apologize. This is just for fun, and written in the hopes that it will help fledgling book authors and artists to grow and learn. 


5 thoughts on “A.J. Corza’s Got You Covered – This Week’s Cover – “My Hero” by Max Vos – Cover Art by… Hey! A.J. Corza

  1. It never occurred to me that you would use more than one photo to make the cover model. I am so not tech savvy. It makes it that much more amazing because, he looks like a real guy! If you hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t have been able to tell he was an amalgam of four, wow, four guys! Flawless work. I love this cover and the story held within it.


    • A.J. Corza says:

      I did this one and Max’s other cover: Sasquatch who was a combination of 3 men (I think?) plus adding earrings, facial hair, etc. I love doing this sort of stuff and I’m infinitely glad that all that time I spent doing fandom manips is starting to pay off in the real world! :) If I could do manips like this all the time I’d be thrilled, but sometimes, you actually get the guy you want right off the bat! (not that I complain about that either! *grins*)

      Thank you for the wonderful comment sweetie! I appreciate it!


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