The Cover Experience

PK FinalWorking with a designer to have the cover of your book created is like watching a tightrope walker without a net. It is thrilling, edge of your seat stuff, but you feel as if, at any moment, things could go very wrong, very quickly.

While doing my research, I looked at scores of designer websites, was blown away by so many covers and  impressed with what could be done, that by the time I finally selected someone to work with, I had high expectations. There were so many different designers to choose from, that I finally had to make my selection largely based on price. I’ve got a lot of work that I’d like to publish this year which means I can’t afford to pay three hundred plus dollars for each cover.

I contacted Su at Earthly Charms, we settled on terms and I gave her a general description to get her started. I also sent her links to covers I liked.

A couple of weeks later, Su sent me my first set of proofs.  Here is where the tightrope walker began to sway in the wind, the feeling of impending disaster set my heart racing and for days I found it difficult to sleep.

My first impression was that she’d gotten them all wrong. We were working on two covers for the first two books in my mystery series. Neither of them worked for me. I considered looking for someone else. Looking at those covers made me sad. I felt as if my project was a failure. Were the books I’d written as bad as those covers? Was I crazy? What made me think I could self publish anyway? UGH!

Trying not to panic, I decided to treat them a bit like critiquing someone’s writing. I began by listing the things I liked and realized I not only liked those things, I loved them. Along with what I loved, like the font and the basic colors, I had a bunch of ideas for what could be improved and how to improve them. I listed those and didn’t hold back on exactly how I felt.

The next set of proofs were so much improved it felt as if that tightrope walker had made it to the other side and the crowd was standing in a raucous round of applause. They weren’t perfect, but we were very close. A few minor tweaks here and there and suddenly, I had the cover I dreamed of, the look I could be proud, to keep on my shelf and call my own. I love, love, LOVE them.

It was frightening at first, but like Su said, we had to start somewhere. I’ve decided that a great cover artist is someone who is not only creative and artistic but more important, someone who listens. I found that creative listener in Su.

I’d recommend her but she will be far too busy working on the rest of my work coming out this year.

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