Today, I thought I'd share the evolution of my new cover for What's in a Name? which is now available at Smashwords. As an introductory offer, you can get it for 99 cents by using coupon code XC48J. It's also available at the Kindle Store, also for 99 cents, but only for a limited time. I hope you'll give it a try.
We all know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but cover art can play an important role in getting a potential reader to check out the words inside.
Normally, publishers provide covers. They'll ask for some preliminary input—with mine, there's a cover request form to fill out, but the art department makes the covers, not the author. They don't read the books (no time, obviously), so they have to translate what you give them to an image they think will sell. And that's the bottom line. What will sell the book? Often, it's not what the author 'sees' when she envisions the book on a shelf.
Fast forward to the rights for a book reverting to the author. Those rights include the words between the covers, NOT the cover. For When Danger Calls, I did acquire the cover image rights, so that was easy. However, for What's in a Name?, I had to start from scratch.
Decisions: Totally new, or stick to feeling of the original? I opted for the latter, simply because I figured the original art department knew what it was doing. Since What's in a Name? stands alone, I opted for something about the book itself rather than a 'look' for a series. Below is the original cover.
Images? Doing my own photo shoot was out of the question. So I spent hours looking at websites that offer royalty free (not free, mind you, but you get permission to use it as you see fit) images that might work. For my other self-published covers, I found reasonable images that worked well enough and only had to deal with adding my name and the title. But for this one, it would mean taking several images and combining them, a skill I don't possess. But I know someone who does! And, he'd just finished wrapping up his own new book release, so he was willing to give it a shot. I'm sure some of you know Jason from his Friday Field Trip posts here.
First issue: The composition wouldn't work with both images facing that way. Luckily, Photoshop lets you flip an image, the same way I used to flip negatives when printing from film. So we can "fix" the hero.
Jason came back with a quick rough draft, simply combining the images, based on what the original looked like.
Then we discussed the 'eye-grabber'. If you're a brand, it's your name. It can be an image on the cover that sets the mood. In this case, since it's a romance, I went with the eye candy. Focus on that shirtless man!
Other considerations? As we worked through possible layouts, I'd also researched a site that drove home the difference between a book cover a reader will see on a display in a bookstore, and a cover they'll see browsing a digital store. One major consideration is size. Your first glimpse of a cover is likely to be a thumbnail, not a full-size image. So it has to be simple enough to be eye-catching in that tiny format. We went back and forth numerous times on font placement, how big the background images should be (limited because I only gave him the 2 images, so he couldn't manipulate bits and pieces.) and how much of the cover should be text and how much image.
And then: Fonts, Colors, Layout. I thought the "in a" could be smaller, since it's almost intuitive for the reader. I also liked the bluer font. One other thing Jason did was shift the title because covers at the Kindle Store usually contain that little image of the Kindle in the lower right—so he allowed for that. What do you think?
So, here's the final cover.
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society