Self-publishing

Dear Cover what will you be?

I’m working with a cover artist. We are trying to get the cover’s tone and mood right. Before I looked for an artist, I went over my genre’s cover art (humorous fantasy. Back in the good old days it was called comic fantasy, but now when you search anything with comic in it, your results will be about graphic novels.) I wanted to see what was out there, what was the general trend, and what type of covers hit the best sold list. For some my approach might cause anxiety, but for me it gave clarity.

Basically, I had two possibilities: a simple cover with an item/character outline on a coloured background or more complex scene showing the main character in a setting or in action. (Action sells!)

I went with the character driven as I have noticed that when there is a human on the cover people gravitate towards it. Item, lighthouse, and so on are impersonal and put more pressure to the blurb to do the selling. They work, I’m not saying that, but we humans are social creatures and we are drawn towards each other. To put it simply, books are a way for us to peek into people’s lives and see how they handle their adversaries. Character on the cover is the first step towards that. There was a great article on BBC about why stories matter to humanity (I couldn’t find the link again, I’m sorry.) Basically with stories we test what goes and what doesn’t (morals and all that). Also through them we can fantasize about our lives and all the outcomes of our actions. Stories are important from the evolutionary perspective. They help us survive by making us understand our fellows better (you know cooperation) and they weed out any harmful behaviour towards the group.

Back to the cover issue. After thinking my covers through, keeping in mind my genre and scenes which might sum up everything I wrote, I set up to find an artist with whom I could continue working with rest of the series. I googled book cover artists, looked them from DeviantArt, and searched them through Goodreads and Reedsy. To my surprise internet is full of them.

There is a great variety of companies and artist doing covers and even pre-made can be bought with pennies. But I didn’t want a cover made from stock images, I wanted a cover made especially for me. And here my troubles started. How to find someone in my price range and someone who will make an amazing cover? Two things that rarely go hand in hand. In addition, I didn’t want someone new to making covers as there are technical demands.

It would be so dramatic, if I could say how much I struggled and how hard it was, but the thing is… I was lucky. I found a perfect one, an amazing artist. In general I have had bad luck with things in my life, but with my book project the coincidences of life seem to line up. First the editor and now the cover artist. I found a perfect one through DeviantArt. Actually I found two, but the first one fell through (I could afford her), but I didn’t let that discourage me. The second person I sent a query email (a polite one) became my cover artist, and I was more than happy how things went. My cover artist is beyond what I expected. She knows her shit, like I said to her (maybe not a professional way to talk to someone, but it is a high compliment from me and yes I explained that to her. And no, I don’t think she was offended.)

As I said in the beginning of this post, we are working to get the tone right. She at first did me three mock-ups from different cover ideas. And I chose the one I liked the most. Not an easy decision to make. I considered what kind of audience I have in mind, how will the cover portray my book, and what speaks to me. I’m sure a lot more went inside my tiny brain than that, like for example familiarity had a lot to say. You can’t never underestimate the selling power of familiarity. We like things we know. But if it is too familiar, then it gets boring. So, there has to be one twist that hooks the customer. Yes I know, I just said that!

The way things are sold to us makes me shudder, and here I am thinking about them and weighing them against my book and its marketing. I hate that I have to do that. But book market is a cutthroat business. There are so many books out there that you have to pop out to get your share of the markets and in the process I don’t want to forget why I’m doing this. I want my readers to have a humorous, funny, and intriguing experience and that starts from the cover and then moves to the text itself; at least it has been so for me. The covers of Discworld books has always been the first to waken my imagination. They moor me into the world and the characters.

Anyway, what was the point of this whole blog? I think I was supposed to write something about the cover and what will it be. It would be nice to just write here that it will be something amazing and everyone will fall in love with it, but that won’t be the case. The cover will speak to those who like my sort of text, who read (humorous) fantasy. It is pointless to try to please everyone with the cover (or with anything else), that is an impossible task and should never be tried. I’m sure such an effort is bound to fail, either the cover is too bland or too out there. My issue with my cover is the colour scheme. It is making me second guess my decisions. I have seen brown coloured covers not selling well, and here I am thinking about making one. My cover artist converted the colour scheme more blue/purple, but for some odd reason the first draft appeals to me more. Maybe it is the familiarity thingy, but I’m not sure. I don’t seem to be sure about anything anymore. Brownish or purple/blue? What will you be? And now I think maybe I should have gone with the simple cover. It is more adult appropriate and… my brain just shut down.

When we are done with the cover, and I haven’t lost my sanity, I will past it here along with the contact details to my cover artist. I would like to keep her as my secret, my source of great covers, but I think that wouldn’t be fair to her and I like to help others. (As if she needs my help. Dick! I mean me!)

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