Archive for July 2022

Creative Cover   8 comments

Do you create your own covers? Work with a cover artist to design them? Hand your ideas over to a professional and let them come up with a design? Buy a pre-made cover?

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So before I answer the question, I thought I’d explain why I don’t buy premade covers. Some are actually quite lovely, clearly created by professionals. However, readers do indeed judge a book by its cover and if your cover looks like a couple of dozen of others available, that’s not a great advertisement for your book. I get it! Custom covers cost a lot of money and if you’re not an artist, you shouldn’t do your own cover. But if you can avoid have a cover that looks like someone else’s cover, you should.


When I first decided to look into this self-publishing thing, I joined a group on the internet called “Authonomy.” You had to have a cover for your draft book and you got a lot of feedback from your fellow authors. I was trying to figure out what I should use when my daughter, who is an artist, wandered through the room and offered to help me out. With her help, I selected a photo of an Alaska painting that we would later learn belonged to our bank — a weird coincidence. It was beautiful. Mountains and a haunting moon that was part of the narrative of The Willow Branch. It said it didn’t have a copyright and I wasn’t using it to make money. Several months later, I happened to be walking down a back corridor in our bank and saw the painting on the wall. I asked about it. It was done by a local artist and they had no idea the image was on the internet. They said it was okay to use it, but I knew the cover of the published book would need to be different. Fortunately, I knew an artist.

Bri created a lovely otherwordly image that contained the elements of the painting, but from disparate elements and I used that in the first publication of The Willow Branch. She also did my next book cover, for Life As We Knew It. I really loved the cover of The Willow Branch, but the cover for LAWKI didn’t quite suite me, but she was doing it for a roof over her head and three squares, so I was grateful for what I got.

Then I was performing a backup one evening when we had a brownout, which fried my backup device and corrupted my cover images. Bri had just left to tour the Lower 48 as a musician and I was stuck.

She put me in touch with a friend of hers who could help me. We really didn’t agree on book cover design, so he showed me how to use a photo editing program. We really struggled with recreating the cover for The Willow Branch, although he did take my instruction on the cover for Life As We Knew It. We liked each other personally, and he insisted I had enough artistry to do my own covers if I took my time. Furthermore, I’d taken typography courses in college as part of my journalism degree. And I have a friend with similar skills who thought it would be fun to help.

I do my own…with help

I helped Bri’s friend Alex recreate The Willow Branch and Life As We Knew It covers, but I’ve primarily done my own since. I seek feedback from others and sometimes my friend Lauri helps me with suggestions or does some of the photo editing. The images on the cover of Objects in View are all photos I’ve taken. My covers are essentially collages of images clipped from other photos. We also use our husbands and kids as evaluators. Each cover is unique to the book I’ve written and so far I’ve only second-guessed myself on one. I’m not sure I’ll go with the cover I selected for my next, as-yet-not-published book. While I like the basic premise, I’m not sure I like it enough. For now, it’s a placeholder in the previous book for what comes next. One of the joys of self-publishing is that you’re not stuck with a cover you don’t like. If another one comes along that you like better, you can always swap out.

Posted July 19, 2022 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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