16 May 2015

For Want Of A Book Cover

Should a writer sit on a story or publish and be damned?

The theory is that an independent writer/publisher should know the genre, concept and the title of a work-in-progress so as to brief a designer of a cover for delivery at the same time that the text emerges from its final edits. That’s the theory.
Version 1 from Fiverr

The reality is that storylines can erupt from anywhere and produce a work of varying lengths, sometimes in short order. The Paintings is a case in point.

I was about to start the third in the Torc of Moonlight trilogy when a chance exchange with an artist friend dropped the idea for The Paintings, fully formed, into my arms. It was always going to be a novella, and they don’t take long to write, do they? And it didn’t. But that left me without a cover, and almost three months to a previously booked date with my cover designer of choice. What to do?

If Photoshop, Paint and Gimp are merely words without meaning, then you need a third party to produce a cover, and time should be spent on Amazon’s pages to gain an idea of what is expected within your chosen genre. Pink and fluffy with a curly font might be suitable for Chicklit, but it won’t sell a Supernatural.

After my own trials failed miserably I decided to try Fiverr – the website where time and skills can be purchased for US$5 a job. I chose a digital designer and gave her the brief. I paid extra to give her more leeway, and for the princely sum of $10.50 (£7.03) received a very reasonable starter cover. I wasn’t convinced over the blank canvas on the easel, so superimposed my own for atmosphere, and the novella was published as an ebook.
Version 2: Art By Karri

This week the appointment with my chosen cover designer rolled in and we discussed possibilities through a series of drafts, eventually settling on this one.

That it has more class is a certainty. Its design also fulfils the mood and content of the story that the Fiverr cover never would.

It's always better to engage a professional designer as you're paying for their skills, experience, and the hours spent not just working on the cover itself, but on the time spent finding elements that contribute to the design. This cover is an amalgam of three separate elements, not including the text.

Using a professional designer also brings side benefits. This ebook cover came in two sizes with an accompanying Facebook header and, for publicity purposes, two .png files showing the picture as a horizontal and vertical print book.

Professional book cover designers come neither cheap nor fast. Art by Karri currently runs a six month waiting list; there again, she has won awards for her work. I am also aware that some writers have extremely tight budgets. If it's a choice between an editor and a cover artist, pay for the editor, especially on the first few books; you're learning your trade, and words are your trade. Using Fiverr for a cover might be a stop-gap, but briefing one, or more, Fiverr designers is financially do-able for anyone.

Was I happy to use the starter cover instead of waiting for the final? Yes, I was. And I would do so again if I found myself in the same position. I promoted the novella on its original launch, and I now have a decent hook for promotion on its re-launch.

Did I mention The Paintings is a supernatural mystery about an art assessor who finds herself working in a surreal environment? No? Then please follow this link - THE PAINTINGS. :)

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