Let’s talk about book covers… the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t apply to actual book covers because most of us do judge books by their covers when browsing for a book to buy. I know I do. I won’t buy a book unless I like the cover. I’m sure I’ve read books where I didn’t love the covers but those were probably classics or were recommended by friends. I’ve loved the covers of all the novels I’ve read recently including “The Edge of Never” and “The Edge of Always”. So why are we so shallow when it comes to book covers? Because that’s all we see before we open a book and read it. And if authors are smart, they try to design a cover that will stand out among millions of others, that readers will be drawn to so they will buy their book. I spent many, many, many hours (okay, weeks) combing through stock photos to find the right photo for my book cover and even then I didn’t get it right the first time.
Since I was self publishing, it was up to me to design my cover and find the right photo. At first I did what I’m sure others have done or thought about doing but you should NEVER do is use a photo you find on the internet. First of all, it’s illegal because it’s not your photo and you were not given permission to use it and secondly, it’s usually a low quality image that would look like crap if you enlarged it. I know because I tried. It came out pixelated and not polished. It spelled amateur. Not wanting a low quality cover or the anxiety of a lawsuit, I chose to go the professional and legal route. I began scouring stock photo sites for a photo to use for my cover. But my search for that perfect photo became more and more elusive as I found sites that either charged too much or were free and I couldn’t find a single photo that was appropriate.
And then there was my ambivalence… I vacillated for weeks about “what” I should put on my cover. At first I thought about using a symbol like many of these new romance novels do these days… the covers have photos of masks, feathers, watches, jewelry, etc. But those symbols were entwined in their storyline and I’m not sure I had one. In Photoshop, I played around with using the couch Xander and Aubrey used in his office or the watch Xander wore as a symbol of his insistence that she arrive at work on time, but neither captured the feel, the essence of the cover I wanted. So then I decided I would feature him on the first book cover and her on the second cover and both on them on third but I wanted to be ironic. Instead of showing their eyes for “The Eyes of Alexander” and “The Eyes of Aubriana” I wouldn’t show their eyes, or at least not well. I’d either cut off their faces from eye level up or have them looking down. I purchased multiple photos from a great website called Can Stock Photo–the photos were only $5 each and were high quality but once I Photoshopped them onto my cover, they just didn’t hit the mark. The task of searching for the right photo that had once been fun became tedious.
I also faced the dilemma of finding a photo that someone else hadn’t used before because many other authors are searching for photos for their book covers, too. I didn’t want to have a photo of a person on my cover that was already on someone else’s. I wanted to be unique. I eventually found the photo. I had not seen it used before and it was of a businessman looking down. Yay. I didn’t have to cut off his face and one of his eyes were partially showing giving just a hint of mystery… perfect. The model doesn’t look exactly like Xander but the contemplative pose and professional clothes capture his essence well. It’s the best I could come up with my limited resources and I have to say that I’m pretty darn proud of it.
I made this cover with the help of my son, Noah in Photoshop. I’ve shared it before, but here it is again: