One of the things I love about self-publishing is the freedom to design my own book covers. Making the decision of how to present my books to the public is HUGE! Though my publishers have been good, there have been several of my covers over the years that have disappointed me. Those are the covers where I felt the publisher wasn’t considering the marketing of my book when they sent me the final draft. And unfortunately, after the initial paperwork, there is no changing a cover once the design department has finished with it.
So now, I’d like to share with you how I go about creating a book cover … or more accurately … how I share my vision with my cover artist.
For my romantic thriller, IN HIS EYES, I did what we usually do to start. I sent Dar descriptions of my hero and heroine, sent the back cover copy and told her the key elements of the story included:
– a killer with a knife fetish
– a yellow rose
– a beach cottage
Though I had told her the yellow rose was significant, I decided it shouldn’t have this much emphasis. The font was too “horror story” and not romantic suspense/thriller. And the girl was too young for my heroine and actually looked like someone found on a young adult cover. Plus, I felt Maggie Callaghan, the heroine of this story was strong and independent and this photo didn’t portray that.
I also thought my author name was too heavy. But I did love the beach scene she’d chosen though the house wasn’t “cottagy” enough.
Dar took out the rose and added the knife … the weapon of choice for my villain. The title and author fonts are now something I really like and the woman on the front definitely fits my vision of my heroine. Notice also she lightened the brown so you can see the beach scene and cottage more clearly. But I have to tell you, at this point I wasn’t liking the brown background and I wanted the knife, only not quite so menacing …
This is obviously the color background we settled on. I liked the monochromatic look of the gray. Notice we moved the knife to the spine and the “I” in the title. My name, is smaller as is the tagline “USA Bestselling…” Dar also added the really creepy red dripping line under the logline on the front and back covers. I stared at this image for a couple of days before deciding the front was too crowded.
Notice now the beach cottage image has been reversed with the cottage on the back cover. I also had Dar fade from black to gray to a very dark blue for the background. It’s subtle, but it really made a difference in how the picture stood out. Notice now too, there’s a silhouette of a woman running down the beach beside the “E” in the title.
Now the problem becomes that the title in a thumbnail isn’t clear. Though I LOVE the knife, it looks like we’ve simply dropped the letter “I”. This graphic may have worked on another color background, but definitely not here. But at the moment I’m working to focus on making the In His Eyes work with the photo of the woman. Too many people looking at this version are finding the two elements just don’t mesh.
The above two attempts were Dar and I trying to figure out how to make it look like the woman was being watched. I said “no” to the binoculars right away, though I did like the lighter look of Maggie’s face. The next picture is trying to highlight the knife, but frankly I thought in a thumbnail it would look like heaven’s light as in HIS meaning something religious. So I dropped both the knife idea and the binoculars and had Dar just add some crosshairs to make it look like Maggie was being watched through a scope.
And here’s the final PRINT cover that took two weeks for us to design. Did I mention Dar is amaaaaaazing and PATIENT!! (And the front cover looks great in a thumbnail. The crosshairs really gave the book cover the “feel” of a romantic thriller.