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Logical Covers

Judge a cover by its book. Don't you hate it when the book cover is misleading, and halfway in, you're wondering where the cool scene of the cover is?

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Don’t you hate it when you fall in love with a book cover and dive into the book, only to realize the story doesn’t match the cover? His eyes are blue, but that guy’s eyes are brown. The woman on the cover is a fighter, but the one inside the pages is meek sheep in sheep clothing. 

Argh. So, it’s a thing I have. 

And… as you know by now, I’m a total DIYer. Like, excessively so, and I admit it doesn’t always go my way. Painted my daughter’s dresser today and it looks amazing. Moved this great antique shelf in her bedroom… and dropped the drill on my toe. It might be broken. 

Moving along… I DIY a lot. They say don’t DIY book covers. First, I did my own for budget reasons, and like the possible broken toe, it sometimes goes terribly awry. 

Yet I persevere. My daughter’s bedroom is nearly done, just waiting for the wall paint and new knobs to arrive. Three hours I walked on that toe. It’s elevated now, and I don’t dare touch it. My first book cover attempts succumbed to a similar fate and still torture me. I hope there’s no displacement in the fracture… 

I have great self esteem, but not an ego. I freely admit, sometimes my covers could use a professional touch. But I have so much fun creating them! 

I’ve spent hours sifting through stock photos until I find exactly the feeling I’m going for. For now, that typically includes the main characters, as, well, I’m not quite skilled enough yet to branch beyond basic (and I might say, progressing to moderate Photoshop). 

Case in point. Exhibit A. Sample this one. 

It’s a strange process, but I like to design the cover as I write. Weaving story with imagery. This story is still in process. 

Hair color? She needed to be brunette, so now she is. Do you know how hard it is to find good stock photo castles? 

Toss in some lightning. Make the portal to the fantasy world not perfectly here nor there. He’s on one side, she’s on the other. 

Nailed it, as my daughter would say. 

I typically post for readers, but, my fellow writers, if you haven’t dipped into cover design, take some classes and have some fun with it. Worst case? The book doesn’t sell. Mockery. Failure. 

Okay, so that worst case isn’t so good. But I write for me first and foremost and hope others enjoy as much as I did. So, if the cover fails? Try, try again. 

A few more. Because I can’t resist. 

Bennett is in a rough place in life. His hopes and dreams have been stomped on. As with humans, isolating, and, unlike humans (I hope), he’s self-medicating by hunting demons. 

Which leads us to the meat of the story. He gets… Changed (spoiler, apologies! it happens early on, so no worries). Because of his own foolish bravery. 

Back to that cover. No eye contact. Arms tied behind his back, but he’s the one that put them there. And, yeah, he’s built and gorgeous. Seattle skyline. Red vampire words.

Ronan is emotionally and physically exhausted, but the bright, cheery, fierce auburn-haired Payson sees through his barriers and brings him back to life. 

And, well, there’s some snow and an island. A hint of darkness in the story, but their romance at the forefront makes the tale refreshing. 

Maybe this one’s too obvious, but we’re going with it. They meet at the skating rink and end up entangled in each other. 

Swap out some hair colors, clothing colors, add frost around the edge – it is winter, after all. 

Claire is in awe of everything around her, finding she is finally exactly where she’s been wanting to be. 

Grady is instantly intrigued by her, a romantic at heart. (Naturally, he has a little soul-searching to do, as nothing’s that easy). 

So many abs to choose from in stock photography. I can’t complain. But the search is challenging, as he has to match the character. 

Ryan has a darkness he holds in, afraid to let anyone in, knowing others would be horrified by his true self and what he has done. 

Quinn, I confess, should be snarkier than in the image, but dang, I loved the longing look and mysterious presence, as she has no idea who she is or what she’s capable of, but even when she should feel scared and alone, she’s powerful. 

This one may need a few more tweaks, because the resolution isn’t quite matching the crisp design I prefer, but it does have an old timey-feel with light flares, which does capture some of the classic glamour of Haley. 

Piggy back ride. Fun and laughter. But, oops, there’s a connection there. Eye contact lingering longer than it should. 

And, naturally, the football field. Make her dress match the font better. Whiten his shirt. I’ve seen other photographs of this model, and he doesn’t normally look like a football player, but at this angle? That guy is absolutely a football player. 

There were so, so many iterations of the cover for All the Days After. I initially published with some good abs, sandy hair, and a melty smolder. 

But the nail wasn’t hitting the head. I was quite fond of the image, but it didn’t match the book. 

Stroke of luck, to say the least, stumbling upon this stock photo. He is Asher, it’s uncanny. Add some military-style font and the After in fancy letters to show it’s about his time after the military. Some tweaks in hair and nail colors (maybe lips, I can’t remember), and muting the background to make Sophie and Asher pop… okay, I gotta say, this cover sums up the book marvelously. I’ll let you read and compare. But, yeah, that’s the story in one image. 

And there you have it. Judge a cover by its book. Yet another reason to self publish and DIY the whole process (within reason). Only the author would truly understand the nuances to ensure the cover promises exactly what the book is going to deliver. 

~ Carrie 

Judge a cover by its book.

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