Guest blogger Karla Darcy says “Cover Me.”
In the self-publishing world, I’m a newbie and at times I’m overwhelmed with the steep learning curve. Writers love to write. I do but I’m not very good at the business end of my career. I’d been traditionally published but wanted the control of self-publishing. What control? There are so many parts of this that I feel I have no control over. I need back up. I need someone to cover me.
Covers, you say? My biggest challenge was getting covers. I began by spending several days looking at the lists on Amazon and studying the covers. The first thing that surprised me was how much of a gut reaction I had to each one. I realized that for me I would know instantly if I would consider buying a book based on its cover alone. I had always believed that you couldn’t tell a book by its cover. In my case, when faced with plunking down money for a book, I definitely was deciding based on what I saw.
The second thing I noticed was that I wanted to know instantly by looking at the cover what the genre was. I don’t want to have to guess. For years romance writers have been criticized for having the “clinch” or “bodice ripper” covers. Frankly I find that reassuring. I want to know that it’s a romance. If it’s a thriller or a mystery, I want to have some sense of danger or suspense when I look at a book.
Third, for me personally I like a simple cover, not too busy and I want to be able to see the writer’s name without the use of a magnifying glass. I like bright colors. When you’re buying a book off the Internet the covers are about the size of a postage stamp in many places. I want to still be able to see the writer’s name and the title of the book.
So now it was time for me to get covers. Unfortunately the artistic gene is totally absent in my DNA. I like my world to be symmetrical. My garden plants are precisely arranged so that one side of the garden matches perfectly with the other side. Four square corners too. My mantel has two candlesticks on either side of a lovely antique clock. Nicely balanced.
So I knew my covers would be disastrous if I designed them. As a starter I would want a kitten on the cover because I love kittens. And naturally it would be in the exact center of the cover.
Enter the expert. Tara O’Shea, firstname.lastname@example.org. A friend of my daughter’s, Tara was always creative and artistic. I asked her if she could do my covers. I gave her a vague idea of what I was looking for. Okay this was my idea for the cover of The Five Kisses. I’d have taken this one if she could have moved the kitty into the middle.
Tara talked about branding and other things I had never thought of. So despite the fact I loved this cover I realized I’d have to let Tara do her own thing. The one thing I’ve learned in this journey to publishing is that I can’t learn it all or do it all, so find an expert who can.
The plan was for nine or ten books. Since I was a history major they would all be Regency romances which was a time period full of international intrigue, the Napoleonic wars and the War of 1812. The series would be about a group of men who belonged to Sweet’s Racing Club. Horse mad when they were bachelors but now in their maturity finding women who were unique, independent and not just beautiful but bright and interesting. And I liked the clothes of the Regency period. The underwear wasn’t all that tricky.
Time passed and Tara worked her magic. She had my back and Covered Me. Voila! I had covers. Simple, gorgeous and branded! What fun this was going to be. Now I could actually get back to the writing part of my career.
I’ve launched The Five Kisses and The Masked Heart. My newest releases are The Marriage Wager and The Scandalous Ward. They introduce you to more of the members of Sweet’s and some old friends. The Marriage Wager is one of my favorites because the story is touching and a reader will cheer at the depth of humor and romance in this traditional Regency.
I’m sure I’m not the first or the last to be traumatized by the decision making on cover art. Nobody sees things the same way. For me, the journey to self publishing is one of constant learning. I’ve been blessed with friends who have gone before me and graciously shared their experiences with me. And that’s the reason that I’ve been successful in learning parts of this business. I’m still in the beginning stage but thankfully I’ve got great friends who can cover me. How about you? Who’s watching your back?
Stop by this author's website to see more beautiful covers.