Sunday, September 14, 2014

How I found a cover artist

The previous process for cover art was simple. I filled out a form with a brief plot summary, the motifs and elements I’d like to see on the cover, and short descriptions of the hero and heroine. Then I sent it off to my editor.

But now what was I to do about my novellas “Secret Water” and “Silent Water”? I felt at sea. No pun intended.

One thing I was sure of was that I didn’t want an obvious Photoshop product with a title slapped on a stock image. I saw enough of those when I was putting together a thread about PublishAmerica’s covers. That ruled out doing the cover myself.

In the Cover Design forum on Absolute Write, I browsed the thread where designers offered contact information and showed examples of their work. The sheer variety was a little overwhelming, but I didn’t have much money to spend. That automatically ruled out any covers which might be $200 or more. Having to buy two would double the cost, though. :(

Then it occurred to me there might be another way to save money while still having a good cover.

The novellas feature the same character in the same setting. Why not have the cover be the same except for a change in one obvious, striking motif? Just like the covers in an erotica series where each features legs, but the color of the shoes is altered. That way I could afford one great cover, rather than two mediocre covers, while still showing that the novellas were different.

So I picked out a few cover designers from the thread and emailed them. All responded promptly, and all of them said that since the covers were going to be the same except for the title and one change, they could offer a large discount on the second one. I’ll keep them in mind for the future, but the one I decided to go with was a bit of an unexpected late addition to my list.

I’d liked Amber Feldkamp’s premade covers when they first appeared on AW, but when I originally browsed her website there was none with a shark fin image and the site said she wasn’t doing custom covers at the time. For some reason I checked the website again after I’d emailed the other designers, and that had changed. She was accepting requests, so I jumped on it.

Amber created a mockup fast. Speed alone wouldn’t have won me over, because one thing you get used to in trade publishing is waiting, but there was something else I really liked about one of the images she’d chosen. With other designers, I’d said one of the elements I wanted was a woman on a rock overlooking the sea. They sent images of women lounging (no) or sitting (which I was OK with).

Amber sent a picture of a woman standing with an outflung arm, as if she was holding back the tide. This stance hadn’t occurred to me, but once I saw the image I knew it was right.

This is why covers are one of the nerve-wracking things about self-publishing, for me. No regrets, but I’m very much aware I’m in charge of something I’m not overly familiar with. Thankfully Amber knew what she was doing. Her positioning of the title was brilliant. And I knew better than to get overly specific (“the woman should be wearing an ankle-length gunmetal grey dress with a blue belt and a knife hanging at her right hip and…”) or to request too many elements on the cover.

All I really wanted was the woman, the sea, the shark’s fin in the water and the moon overhead. The moon was the element which would change: blue for one novella, red for the other. I also requested that my name be on the bottom in a typeface that mirrored that on my Samhain books, to show they’re in the same series.

I’ll be posting the covers here as soon as I can.


Grace said...

I'm excited to see them!

Marian Perera said...

I have another cover reveal coming up first, for the next Samhain book. But after that, yeah, these get their turn. :)