Sunday, June 29, 2014

Will You Cover Me?

Nailing the Right Look

I have just finalizing the cover for my next novel. This is still a new experience for me, although I have been lucky enough to see more than 45 of my books published.

To date, I've worked with two cover artists and both were very good. I'll probably use them again -- if they'll have me. It's a process that's both exciting and extremely frustrating. Back when my books were contracted by mainstream print publishers, I knew nothing about the covers until I received them in the mail with a short note from the editor: "Here's your cover! Enjoy."

Most often I enjoyed....sometimes I didn't. However, my feelings weren't important. The only time I could gripe was if the cover artist got something horribly wrong -- like a Scottish setting instead of a western one. (And sometimes not even then! I once had a contemporary romance with a Gothic cover slapped on it.) One time the color of the heroine's hair on the cover was entirely incorrect, but that wasn't changed. Too bad. So sad.

Publishing on Amazon means they will select a cover or I can do the whole cover thing myself. Having seen Amazon's versions of good covers -- pardon while I retch -- I have since chosen my own artist and paid for it all myself. By doing this I have learned a few interesting facts:

1. Just because you can picture the perfect cover in your head doesn't mean you'll ever see it for real. I had an idea of the cover art I wanted and I didn't think there would be a problem getting it. Looking high and low at the available photographs online, I couldn't find one image that was even close. The cover artist gave up and sent me some other ideas -- none of which floated my boat. I spent approximately 12 hours looking at photos over the next couple of days. I came up with six I thought would be okay for my book. None of them were what I'd originally envisioned.

2. Time is of the essence. If I'd been allowed enough time, I could have had the cover artist set up a photo shoot and get the cover shot I wanted. However, by the time she contacted me and was ready to begin work, it was already too late for that. I had to have a cover by the end of June for ads I was placing in magazines. She didn't start work on my cover until June 21. Although it only took her a few hours to complete the cover once a photo was chosen, there wasn't enough time for a photo shoot. I'll know next time to look for photos early. Then, if I can't find anything I like, I'll have enough time to pay extra for a photo shoot.

3. Getting several people to agree on a cover is impossible. Since I didn't trust my own judgement entirely, I sent two or three possible covers to a friend and my agent for their suggestions. There was no consensus among them, so I was more confused than ever and had to rely on my judgement. Yikes!

4. Lettering is important. On the cover before this one, I went around and around with the artist about the lettering. Fonts are so important. They can evoke feelings and they can (and should) command the eye. They should also be easy to read, especially when the cover is reduced to thumbnail size. Getting all of this right on a romantic suspense novel with paranormal elements is exasperating. To depict so many genres at once is darned near impossible! That we have come so close to it twice now is remarkable.

5. Everyone won't like it. Just as with your book, there will be detractors who defame your creation. I loved the cover of "Through His Eyes," but several people made a point in their reviews to say they hated it. I fully expect to experience the same wincing pain when this new cover is revealed. Of course, I like it or I wouldn't have paid for it! But I know there will be people who will trash it. I suppose that's better than trashing my writing . .  but still! It hurts.

Each time I go through this process, I learn something new. It's still one of my high points in the journey of creating a book. I like having the power to choose my cover. With that power comes new responsibilities and new worries. But, at least, I don't have to wait to have the cover mailed to me and be told to "Enjoy!" whether I like it or not.