We all do, of course. I may have bypassed many good books because they didn’t look like ‘something I would read’. And that is a shame. It seems indie publishing has a reputation for amateurish book coverings, and, having now gone through this process myself, I can understand why.
My ‘vision’ for my book was a distant back view of a beautiful couple (heroine flame haired if possible) gazing out over a misty English valley. The book is set on a country estate in the Cotswolds. The story develops amidst horses, the countryside and dogs. In my mind’s eye, my cover resembled a modern day Jane Austen book. I described my vision in detail, on the telephone, to the USA (with the customary time delay throughout our discussion).
The concept I received depicted a decidedly middle aged couple. Now, I’m not saying I wouldn’t like to write that book. In fact I have given myself the giggles, planning in my head the words of a passionate mid-life scene:
“She knew he thought he was caressing her breast, as his fingers gently fondled her spare tyre and continued to search for a nipple.”
“A low groan escaped him as his back gave out.”
But this time, my book is about the beautiful people (I will write the other story if I ever get a following big enough to stand it). Not only were the couple depicted on my book nothing like my characters, the misty English scene was by definition colourless and uninteresting. Dull, dull, dull. I wouldn’t have bought the book with that cover. At the moment that is the only yardstick I have to measure success by.
My excitement at receiving the message from CreateSpace: “Your action is required to move forward with your project”, was soundly deflated when I viewed the concepts. The second concept (designed by them) showed a younger couple (better) galloping on horses (good idea)…wearing cowboy hats and traversing an American prairie. Oh dear.
I’m not knocking CreateSpace here. They listened to my ideas and tried very hard to interpret them without any visual stimulus and only spoken guidance from me. My fault, I panicked a bit. I had only paid for two rounds of editing on the concepts and had to decide which of those featured I would be going ahead with. To be honest I hated them both. I asked the design team to book a telephone conversation. Again they were efficient, encouraging and helpful. Editing changes could include a change of image. I could supply my own image, or search for one I liked from their library. Big sigh of relief.
Better late than never, I started doing some research. Searched thousands of images (bouncing them past my daughters for feedback) and found a picture I liked. I emailed the design team with images of covers I admired and would like to emulate. And I just managed to carry out all of the required changes within my pre-paid budget.
My cover is not perfect, there are a couple of details I would still change. I could have added another round of edits for $75. But I do not know if my book will even sell, so there has to be a cut-off point. Next time, if I use CreateSpace again, I will start the process by sending them an image of what I want the cover to look like, and move forward from there.
And I’m not a book designer or marketing expert. I do not know what the market is looking for. My ideas might still be awful!
Have a look, and see what you think (at the partial image which was all I could fit into ‘featured images’!). Just don’t tell me to change anything.