Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Creating The Book Cover - As Authors, Do We Have A Say?

Let’s face it – a cover can make or break a book sale. Ever walk into a bookstore, see a cover, fall in love, and purchase it without a second thought? Ever browse around, dismissing those ‘Eh’ covers? Even bestselling authors sometimes get covers wrong. It’s not always their fault, though. 


Because every publisher does things differently, and maybe they had no say.

I’ve had three experiences so far in my scribbling sojourn with creating covers, and I wanted to share a smidge of what you might expect when this part of your manuscript-to-publication journey takes place.

Having no say

My first release / cover was for Make Believe – an anthology based on a picture prompt. The pic ended up being the cover, created by the publisher before the stories were even submitted, so bah da boom. Done. 

Easy peasy, pumpkin pie. 

No author input, no tweaking. No say, but really no biggie. I was just happy to finally have that ‘real’ publication under my belt.

Got it right the first time

The second was for Christmas Magic, another anthology, but from a different publisher. The cover was created by them and emailed to the three authors. Personally, I loved it. I felt the lone street lamp had an historical feel, and matched my historical romance short at the antho’s end. 

Nothing needed added. Nothing needed tweaked. 

They got it spot on the first time around as far as I was concerned.

Input wanted and then some

Third is my fantasy novel which releases Oct. 7th of this year. Unfortunately I can’t share the purdy with you just yet – stop back on March 18th for the big reveal!!!

This cover was much more involved seeing as how it is a novel. Here’s how it went down.

After I signed the 2-book series contract for Pool of Souls with J. Taylor Publishing, I received a pile of paperwork to fill out. One of them was the cover information page. On it they asked questions about the genre, subgenre, title, and theme. Then they asked if I had any special requests.

This was the first I’d been ASKED to be involved. I was stoked – but blindsided and clueless. I am NOT an artist. I can’t even draw a stick figure properly. Sad, I know.

Anyhoo. I was also given a link for their stock photos to browse through. Well. I found a pic that ended up inspiring the title for the 2nd book of the series, which up to that point was simply known as Pool of Souls #2. Woo Hoo!

But I digress.

I suggested a few things, and emailed those sheets back. The turnaround time blew me away! Within a few weeks I got an email that said ‘Eye of the Soul Cover’.

*GULP*  Fingers trembling, I clicked on the email.

My initial thought was that the background rocked, but the rest of it was just ok. After FIVE years of slaving over a manuscript, to see the story summed up in one picture ... wow. Surreal, but it wasn't quite IT for me. The cover didn't resonate in my soul. I wanted to be blown away.

I’m a nitpicker at heart, and they did request my thoughts, so I offered back suggestions of what didn’t work for me, what images I thought might represent the story better. We ended up going through 3 rounds of tweaks, until I was thrilled. Like, stare and can’t stop grinning like an idiot, thrilled.

LOVE my Eye of the Soul cover!!!! Wish I could share it now, but alas, no can do.
Starting on March 11th, I’m going to offer a tiny puzzle-like teaser of the cover until cover reveal day. That’s 7 teasers. Ought to be fun, don’t ya think?

The devil is in the details, says I. If given the opportunity to be involved in the cover making process, be sure it represents what lies within, and make sure to catch the eye and raise questions. Entice. Draw potential readers in like  stinking trashcans will a fresh-out-of-hibernation bear.

What kind of book cover draws your attention? What’s the one element a cover shouldn't go without?


  1. Quite awhile back, before I even got back into reading, I had dinner with a guy responsible for book covers for one of the major publishers. (I worked with his wife, who was also there.) He was saying that he couldn't believe that writers kept trying to kibitz into HIS domain. Writers = words, Graphic Designer = images.

    I tried to explain that the person who creates a book just might see it as one whole entity, words and pictures. He disagreed.

    Shortly after that conversation, he was promoted.

    1. Promoted!!?? Wow. I really feel that the author SHOULD have a say, but then again, I've never worked with one of the 'big 5'. I have no idea how they work.

      Thanks so much for stopping by & commenting.

  2. Ah, what a tease! I'm looking forward to seeing your cover :)

  3. Absolutely - you should definitely be a part of the cover design. I'll have #30 coming out later this month and 28 of those I have had control over the cover art. Originally only 24 or so but I kicked and screamed and managed to get 4 of them redone by an artist I approved of who listens to me and won't submit it until we're both happy.

    And yes, if you're not blown away why should anyone else be?

    1. Sometimes it pays off to be that squeaky wheel! I totally agree that we SHOULD be blown away for that very reason.

      Thanks so much for stopping by & commenting.