Depending on your writing/publishing/fame seeking goals, you may want to participate in the creation of your cover for your novel. Creativity, skill and of course goals, come into play because we all know the importance of a great cover. I am not suggesting that a professionally produced cover is unnecessary, for as you will see, I used a professional at one point. But there are positive reasons why you might want to take an active role in the development of your cover.
Perhaps: 1) You enjoy the challenge and satisfaction of doing it. It’s just who you are. 2) You want the cover to be directly linked to the story (ie not just some generic image that is pretty but does not convey the novel. 3) Doing it meets the criterion of keeping the expenditures in line. 4) Doing your cover just might be a lot of fun. For me, it has been a learning experience, fraught with frustrations, varied results and much satisfaction. If you are a do it yourselfer like me, here’s my experience which may help you decide to what extent you want to be involved in the job.
For my first novel, Teacher’s Pet, I had no clue what the cover should look like: not until the novel was done and the title changed to A Lesson in Revenge. Please note the importance of the title of your book. Although accurately reflecting the story, the title did not accurately reflect the genre of the novel. The point is, as soon as I got the title right, the cover image popped into my head. A phone call later, with camera, chalk and paint in hand I was off to a former school where I had taught. As the major setting of the novel was a school, the title on the blackboard seemed a natural. Using the photo and the cover creator on Smashwords, I came up with the first cover.
I was ecstatic with the results when the POD came. I still like it, however soon the reality of its suitableness became evident. My writing group told me, and rightly so, that the execution of the word “Revenge”, suggested the horror genre, which the novel definitely is not. Judge for yourself.
Lesson learned – no matter how much you like the cover, just like your novel, get reliable feedback first! So back to the drawing board. I still liked the concept of using the blackboard but needed to tone it down. I also wasn’t happy with the back cover, the choices using cover creator being somewhat limited – along with my computer skills. Hence the decision to take my original concept to a professional. (See, I’m not too stubborn) I chose Tatiana Villa to help guide and work with me. She offered unlimited adjustments until you were completely satisfied and seemed very friendly. (I am a sucker for friendly) After explaining the “horror” problem, she very quickly took my basic concept and presented basically the same image, removing the horror element with smaller print and NO red blood. We fine tuned some small things and then linked the back cover to the front, blending the black to the back and adding an image that portrays the major scene in the novel. All in all, a much better cover that suits the novel. Although I didn’t create the product, working with Tatiana gave me full control of the experience and the end result.
Next post I’ll explain the roller coaster ride I had with the more complex cover of my second novel, The Reedsmith of Zendar.