Worderella Needs a Hero (aka Book Cover Designer)

Really, the two are interchangeable at this point. I need both a hero and a book cover designer. You see, I’m self-publishing my book and I’m doing as much of it myself as I can. Why? Well, because I just graduated from grad school and I have loans to take care of, thank you. I’m also a creative; I take pride in doing things and have an aptitude to learn new talents fairly quickly.

Book cover layout, however, continues to elude me, much to my frustration. The problem is that I want an industry-standard-style book, something along the lines of Silent in the Sanctuary, or The Slightest Provocation, or The Deception of the Emerald Ring. Those covers have stock imagery that I can’t afford. I suppose I could commission an artist to draw my character in a similar style, but how many artists these days like to be so… classical?

My process

I’ve been collecting my favorite covers as I see them on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com for the last, oh, I don’t know, three years. I have them separated by category: Fiction, Romance, and Teen, since those are my three main inspirational sources. I know the trends like the back of my hand, but the problem is my book, Haunting Miss Trentwood, doesn’t really fit in a “trend,” per se. How many of you know about a historical romance with paranormal inklings? I can think of one, Amanda Quick’s Arcane Society series. The one I read was Second Sight. But I’ve looked at those covers, and I don’t like them because they don’t get the mood I’m going for.

Anyway, I went to JoAnn Fabrics to buy a fat quarter and some scrapbook paper to, in essence, build my cover from scratch.

I had sketched out the general idea that I wanted, and since I’m crafty with the scissors, I went at it for three hours, running upstairs and down to the copy machine and back to my desk, grabbing my mothers calligraphy pens when I realized I didn’t have brown, and then taking photos of the final result.

Sadness abounds. I didn’t measure properly and my photos came out being the improper size for a trade paperback, which is 5.5″ by 8.5″.

So I went digital. I’d had fun working with real materials, but with that failed, I decided to replicate it digitally.

But then that felt a bit sterile, so I went to istockexchange.com and grabbed some comp photos that I liked and began to play around with layouts.

An improvement, I think, but still not what I want. Why is it so difficult to make a book cover for a book titled Haunting Miss Trentwood? I think because the book touches multiple genres lightly at once. It’s historical fiction because it’s the late Victorian era, specifically, the year of Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. It’s a romance, albeit sweet. It’s a mystery because blackmail is involved. It’s a paranormal because a ghost is involved. With all these injected into one story, I’ve opted to keep the plot itself rather simple, allowing the characters to grow and mature, allowing the reader to enjoy the journey rather than roll their eyes at me for trying to cover too much in one story.

You’re not done writing, why care about the cover?

I’d like to have a cover so I can begin my marketing campaign. Marketing will be the toughest part of this self-publishing journey for me because I’m not a very good schmoozer. I love Twitter and will be utilizing that hardcore. I dislike Facebook, but it’s the lesser of two evils (not having online presence).

Additionally, having a visual of the book inspires me to keep going. I have every intention of completing this book and making it successful, i.e. break even at least. It’s so frustrating because I am a passable artist in my own right… but I’m also a perfectionist, and my artistic skill simply isn’t at the level I prefer for my novel.

Help me, oh mighty Internetz, you’re my only hope

If you’re self-publishing, know someone who is or has, etc, how did you/they find a book cover designer? How did you/they find a reputable artist? What am I doing wrong? Why has my usually stellar Google-fu failed me?