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The Book Cover Struggle Is Real

A novel isn’t really finished until the blurbs are written, the content files uploaded for ebook and paperback, and the cover(s) uploaded. Just because I’ve finalized, had an editor zip through, re-edited, passed to beta readers, and tweaked the text based on their feedback on my 50,000+ words doesn’t mean I can publish tomorrow.

I still need to have the cover art created and the front/back/spine designed.

Yes, over the past two years as I’ve worked on my current novel, I have taken time to sketch what I’d like the cover to look like. Three times, in fact. Now these concepts have to be reviewed, choices finalized, and a cover artist can prepare it. As my chosen cover artist is in the process of moving, there will be weeks, not months, to finalize the images before uploading to Amazon, etc.

It’s a struggle to choose my favorite cover from my sketches. Especially since I am a writer who works by the seat of my pants (a pantser, we’re called), and I have changed my mind three times. Well, a fourth time too, but that doesn’t count.

The fourth time was a stream of thought that would cause any artist to strangle me, or roll their eyes, and annoy potential readers. You see, I distracted myself because of my previous background in tech. I used to teach desktop publishing software classes, help companies publish, and taught print+web technologies. Because of this “tech” background, I’m familiar with the O’Reilly “animal” books. You may have seen these at work or have them yourself: books on code and such that sport animals on their front cover. The animals have nothing to do with the content, technically (pun intended). These beautiful animals were drawn in black-and-white (at least, when I worked in the industry) and they made the publisher’s series of books immediately recognizable.

(Here’s the O’Reilly Media page that shows its animal covers.)

Anyway…. One day my stream of thought went to these books. In my search for the perfect, eye-catching book(s), for a brief, shining, and maniacal hour I considered creating covers for my [eventual] trilogy that featured a caterpillar, a cocoon, and a butterfly, in that order. My idea was that readers could immediately see what order the books should be read, by the transformation.

Cool, huh?

No. No, not really. I doubt that having insects on my time travel trilogy could in any way catch the right readers’ attention. It’s not a fit, and I want a cover that gives readers a clue to the book’s content.

But, even without that tangent, coming up with the best possible cover is a struggle. Since I am more about book content and page layout, and my artistic talent hovers above nil, I often feel at a loss. How could I as a non-artist truly contrive an appropriate cover?

I will get there, I know. Mock-ups will go to author friends and even family, to check me before I wreck my books. I am reviewing my sketches and must make [good] choices for my current work’s cover. Oh, and for the new cover for Book 1 of the trilogy, since I’m re-releasing it alongside the newly-finalized Book 2. (Re-release gives me a chance to coordinate covers; drives me that much crazier.)

Stay tuned.

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