Even when I was more of a reader than a writer, I judged book covers. A horrible cover–no matter how good the book may have been–was enough to prevent me from purchasing a book. So when I decided to begin self-publishing, I knew I had to make sure that my covers were nice enough that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen reading my own books. Shallow, I know, but I doubt I’m the only one who’s felt that way.
The first book I published, the collection of short stories entitled The Melanie Chronicles, was what I saw as my experiment in self-publishing. I wanted to see how to go about with formatting, designing a cover and marketing a book. Some parts of it were more difficult than others, but I already had a cover image and I had a little help from my colleagues. I found the cover image on Shutterstock. I knew I wanted an illustration or vector image instead of a photograph. Even though I am not such a big fan of the color pink, I liked that the shade used in the picture was a deeper shade, not baby pink or pastel pink. In the end, I liked the image so much, I also used it on my business cards and as the header for my blog.
For Linger: a short story I designed everything myself. It took a while to find the right cover image. Many of the images I found were too cheesy-looking. I didn’t like the emotion they conveyed. Others felt overly sexual when I wanted a picture of a woman grieving. You don’t know how difficult it can be to find a good image of a grieving black woman. I found plenty of pictures of women spilling out of bras or naked and clinging to men. I found a few that almost conveyed the emotions I wanted, but they weren’t quite right. In the end, I found the right cover image. But making a cover is not easy, especially when you aren’t proficient in Photoshop or InDesign. I couldn’t really find the right font and I ended up having a font I don’t really like with an image I loved. It was an experiment. I guess you could say it was a semi-successful experiment since I did everything for it myself.
For my next book covers, I’ve found pre-made book cover designers who also help with custom-made covers. One such designer is James at Humble Nations. He has a great selection of pre-made covers. You can buy one or buy them in bulk and save them for later. The cover images are great and James is helpful, friendly and funny. Since I have quite a few books that are close to being ready for publication, I decided to try his services. The cover for Choose Me, which is a collection of short stories I’m working on, gives you a great idea of James’ work. I love it. I think it captures the feel of the stories, which are stories about love and relationships with a touch of sensuality. I knew I wanted something that felt sexy without feeling cheap and tawdry. I saw this image and I thought it was perfect. I just think it has the right feel. I’m not sure yet when Choose Me will be published. I still need to tweak a few of the stories. I’ll keep you posted on the actual release date. Once it’s ready, it will be available as an ebook and a POD paperback.
I’m also trying to finish the edit of A Little Night Music. I’ve been discussing it with another designer, Andrew, at Design for Writers. As soon as I have some samples, I’ll share them with you.
Before I sign off, I just wanted to share some new blogs/sites with you:
Coming next week: a book review and (maybe) an interview with Nick Alexander.