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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Journey of a Book Cover

They say "Don't judge a book by it's cover." Yet, we do. The story would be exactly the same with a plain cover versus an eye-dazzling cover, but there's something dynamic that happens when the picture on the front of a book grabs us.

When my book Winter's Past was finished and professionally edited, there was a giant step yet to be taken in designing a cover that not only would be pretty, but would tell something about the story. In my debut novel, the leading lady is coming to terms with a lost love who shows back up in her life. In that process, she discovers that she may very well still be in love with the rogue, even though she doesn't want to be.

I wanted a cover that would relate to Winter looking back. I found this picture at istock:  

Winter has long red hair like the woman in the photo, she loves the Word of God, and it appears this lady is looking away, possibly into the past. She was my girl!

Because I'd spent a bundle on professional editing and valued the interior more than the exterior, I decided since I'm artistic (cough, cough) I could make the cover myself. I know, I know, but that's what I thought. I assured myself I could do it. After all, I love DIY projects!! So, I learned how to use the OpenOffice Draw program, which is free, by the way, and I came up with what I thought would be my final cover for Winter's Past:

When I held it in my hands for the first time, I was thrilled!

I still did some tweaking and ordered several proofs. But, eventually, I got it the way I wanted it to be--given my experience. In those first months, Winter's Past was available online, in a local bookstore, and sold from a clear bag I carried around with me, and I was very pleased. After all, I'd done the cover myself, and to me, it was a work of art. But as time passed, I began to doubt and judge and compare. I kept reading how people do judge a book by its cover, and how this is an area writers should not scrimp on--and I cringed. I wondered what I should do. Should I try to make another cover? Is relaunching a new cover a good idea after a year has passed? Will people be confused?

Also, with book two in the series on its way this year, I wanted something on the covers to be similar. So I began a quest to find a graphic artist. I went to several different websites hunting for that special "look". Then, I heard of a graphic artist through someone on Facebook, and I went to her site, not once or twice, but many times to look in awe at her cover designs. Suzanne Williams is very creative, and she makes fabulous book covers. Here's her website if you want to take a peek:

As I compared her designs with my cover for Winter's Past, I felt mine had some major flaws. With the lady's face turned away and the background slightly blurry, it wasn't engaging. On the paperback, the colors were dark and murky. Something needed to change. I wanted a delightful cover like the ones on Suzanne's website. I wanted it to say, "Read me! This is a heart-touching story."

So, I contacted Suzanne and explained my heart for this book. She was so great to work with. She hunted for pictures that would match my characters, and so did I. She offered ideas, and she was very open to me making suggestions and asking her to tweak things. I was looking for an engaging couple, with the woman having a bit of an unsettled look, a bright color overall, and a banner that would remain the same throughout the series.I was happy to find this couple on Fotolia, her with her red hair, green eyes, and a sweet, slightly unsure expression, and him gently pursuing her:

A friend looked at the cover and asked, "Is that what you imagined Ty looking like?" Now, this is a friend who really liked my first cover. "No," I answered. "But, her? Definitely." And, I'd have to say, he's pretty close.

The lacy pink banner turned out great, it representing a bit of wedding lace. In each of the stories in the 2nd Chance Series, this lace will be present in different colors.

Suzanne and I both hunted for a secondary picture for the lower half. I wanted it to say something about marriage, since this series is about the hope of reconciliation. When I found the picture below, I loved the burgundy color and the Bible open to I Corinthians 13, a section of verses Ty thinks about during a tense scene with Winter's antagonistic personal assistant. The engagement ring fits so well with the story too.

Suzanne put it all together in such a delightful fashion, and I'm very pleased with the final product. Changing a cover mid-stream may be confusing to readers. Sorry about that. But in the end, when there are several books in the series, it will be nice to have the continuity of the covers--and the beautiful, eye-catching design. To all those who own the first cover version, just think of it as the first run. (If someone wants to update a Kindle version, go to "Manage your content & devices" on Amazon and upgrade for free.)

Thank you, Suzanne Williams, for sharing your artistic gifts and talents with authors. I'm thrilled with the new cover for Winter's Past. I'm so blessed to be walking this journey of writing books. My dreams are coming true! 

Winter's Past (2nd Chance Series #1) is available on Kindle for 99 cents! (limited time) HERE

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