As an Independent Author who’s on a budget and has a talent for graphic design, I decided to create my own cover art. It was daunting at first. I had to figure out what the technical requirements were, but once I figured all that out, it was pretty easy to do with my photo editing program. Since I still had so many of my test images saved on my computer, I thought I’d share with you how the cover for my third novel came to be.
Of course the first question is … what do you put on the cover besides the title and your name? Well, I like to choose an image, a single thing that sets the tone or represents the spirit of the book. For book one in my series, I had a DNA strand and a rampant lion. Since the books center on how special my main characters Blood/DNA is, I thought the DNA strand was a no brainer. The Lion comes from the Wells family crest. It’s my mother’s family crest and as I have real ancestors of mine in the Wells family as charters, it seemed a good fit. Plus lions represent courage and I thought that was my main character, Sara, in spades. Book two has the just extinguished white candle leaking blood. This actually represents two things, only one of which is apparent in Book 2. Sorry, but you’re just going to have to read book 4 to find out what that other thing is. In Book 2, it represents Daniel’s loss of innocence. So that brings us to book 3. Well, unlike the first to books which take place mainly in New Paltz, NY, book 3 mainly takes place in Stonington, CT. The Old Lighthouse Museum is the hub of all the action, but as you can see if I just said a lighthouse, you’d probably be thinking a big tall tower and small house beside it. Yes, I describe the lighthouse in the book, but because it’s so distinctive, I wanted to feature it on the cover. Fortunately for me, the good folks at the real museum didn’t mind my using the photo I took when I was up there doing research.
So, I started with my original photo. Yes, it wasn’t the ideal photo to work with, but at the time I had no idea I was shooting a cover photo. I was just shooting shots about town to reference when writing. I hadn’t written the book yet so how was I supposed to know? Alas hindsight is 50/50. So I started with my photo, but I wanted something much more graphic and less photorealism. I needed it to match the two covers that came before as I wanted them to seem cohesive. So using my photo editing software, I converted the image to a sketch look.
Because the first two covers were in a Black, Red and White color scheme on a black background, I added the black and sucked out as much red as I could. It looked good, but still too photographic. I wanted more of a stark contrast. I also sucked out the window panes on the front door and tried to minimize some of the details to just pull out the basic bones of the image.
After I added the text (Same font as other books for cohesiveness) I extended over the grass at the bottom of the cover and added a hint of the bushes to the black spot to the left of the front door. Was a big black hole that was screaming at me to be filled. I liked what I had but it still needed something to punch it up. I was thinking a moon or clouds, but the moon didn’t sit right with me. First of all, it was too hard to get the subtleties of the light and dark patches of the moon and retain the stark graphic look I was going for. Plus although good in theory, when I looked at it, it just screamed werewolf to me. Sorry, no werewolves in my books, so the moon had to go. Clouds were really hard to manipulate as well and still keep the stark look I was aiming for.
And then came the birds. I had several nights wrangling to find a bird that worked. Attempt one didn’t quite live up to expectations. I liked it but needed to get all of the white out of him and it just wasn’t working. Bird two stuck and became the final cover. In the end, I like the idea of the bird. It’s sort of Sara. She’s there but she can’t be caged or confined by life or the circumstances she’s presented with. She’s a survivor and in the end will always find a way to fly free. Very poetic, I know, but true none the less.
So I’d love to hear you comments on my cover art. If you have any comments good or constructive, I’d live to get some feed back for when I do the cover for book four in the next month or so.