Picture Perfect

I have to admit as a reader I never really gave much thought how a cover for the book I’m about to buy was created. It’s not that I ignored the covers, actually it was the opposite. Those covers are so important in getting my attention.

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What makes me want to buy? Colors are probably the first thing that will grab me.  I’ll notice whether artwork or photography is on the cover. Does it convey enough of the story line to catch my interest? Is the title catchy, is the print legible, does it correspond to what the picture is saying? If all of these things meet my subconscious approval, then I take a look at the inside of the book and  make my decision to purchase. For me as the reader, it was a simple straightforward decision, sometimes impulsive one.
But as a writer I agonize over that cover. The same things which caught my eye as a reader are also important to me as a writer.

Do the colors convey the mood of the story inside? Is the title catching enough to make somebody stop and actually turn the first page or flip the cover to see what’s going on inside? And then, there’s that all-important picture on the cover.

Some writers are lucky enough to be talented and can draw their own cover, which is great, because you know in the back of your mind exactly what you want your pictures to portray.  Then there are others, like me, who possess no artistic talent and couldn’t draw a straight line to save their life. But we still have a very good idea of what we want on our cover. There might be a scene in the book that  stands out and we want to portray it. Or maybe it’s more of a feeling we wanted to portray. Perhaps our book is a fantasy and we wanted to create the illusion of another world. Or perhaps a romance or even a thriller or a mystery that can be illustrated .

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For some writers, we’re fortunate enough to work with a great cover designer. They  take our thoughts and create the perfect cover, with  a bit of tweaking here or there. I’ve been really lucky on my mystery series to have had that experience.
In my two other series  I’m not using artistic work. Instead, I’m using photography for my covers. I’ve spent hours going over different web sites looking for the perfect picture. I have a pretty good idea in the back of my head what I want to see. But finding a photograph   matching my imagination is not always easy. Of course, it’s not cheap either. To do it right, you need to purchase the pictures. The last thing any author wants is to go through is legalities over the rights to a picture being used their book.

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You spend hours looking at those pictures, you start a catalog of pictures hoping you might be able to use one. The catalog grows bigger, and of course you’re growing more frustrated. Finally, you start narrowing it down and you pick a picture  you think will work, but there’s a nagging doubt in the back of your mind. It’s just not quite the perfect picture and after debating yourself, you decide to  use it. You go ahead and create your cover. It looks good, it almost looks great, but  still something is but not perfect. So you go back and start looking again. Suddenly, you find it  – the absolutely perfect picture that portrays everything you want to sell your story.
You do the happy dance, and shout hallelujah. You quickly download the picture and make the changes.   You’re sure this the one to create a perfect cover. Now all you need is to write the manuscript.
At least that’s the way I work. I like to have my cover done before my book. This gives me inspiration and keeps the writing going. When I get stuck, I look back to that cover and I know what my next thought has to be.

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So when you buy your next book, take a closer peak at that cover and realize just how much work went into it.

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