Sunday, July 26, 2015

So you've signed your book contract, what's next? The Cover and my reveal for my next book!

For those of you who have published a book, the process is pretty standard. Once your contract is signed, your book goes into the editing process. From both of my publishers, there was a waiting period of about four months before my manuscript came back with suggestions and edits from the first of two editors.

Usually the editing is grammatical in nature and depending on the strength of the story line, suggestions are made about characters, plot points or observations of logic that we tend to lose sight of during the writing process.

At this point, the publisher will contact you about your cover. As an author, you have a choice. Either use the cover artist /art department chosen by the publisher, who will pay for the cost of the cover, or find a cover artist on your own and pay for the cover yourself.

Which option should you use?  Depends on how passionate you are about the cover and if like me, are a control freak about font, color and image.

Before you make the decision, please do your research. Look at the other covers from your publisher. Are you publishing Romance? Do you want to go with a traditional cover with the couple in states of steamy undress or something contemporary that hints at Romance with objects or a setting? Is it a mystery? Does the cover scream intrigue and make the reader want to know what happens next?

Keep the following in mind when making your decision. Cost, Control and Craft

  1. Cost - A cover from your publisher will not cost you anything. It is one of the perks of signing. An independent cover artist will charge you. The range differs with every artist, from $150 to $500 +. Often the packages differ depending on if your book is being published as an ebook or as an ebook/paperback.
  2. Control - Many publishers use cover artists who charge for changes to the cover, so having the ability to change font, color or images are minimal with the cover from your publisher. For my first book, I loved everything but the model chosen for my heroine. Her outfit didn't match her character as a futuristic Detective. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to change it, because the stock character came dressed that way. Even with this small issue, it still conveyed the sci fi theme and remains one of my favorite covers to date.

What do you want the cover to say? The pictures alone should give your reader an impression about theme, setting, and atmosphere. We are visual in nature and can see in an instant, whether the book appeals to us. Don't believe me? Do a google image search for book covers and see which one's jump out at you. Those are the same reactions that others are having.

    3. Craft - Unless someone has read your book, at this point your cover is your craft. It is the thing you will use for your marketing, identify new readers with your brand and make people want to pick it up, click on it, or take their precious time to read it. Do not underestimate the importance of a smart, savvy cover. You will be living with it, as you market your hard work and introduce people to you, your characters and your brand.

Questions only you can answer

When you finally make your decision, the artist will want to know what you want on the cover. Because he or she won't be reading your book, it's important to give a sense of plot, theme, characters and atmosphere through the questions you will be asked.

Some of the questions include:

Book title
Author's name
What is the genre? Romance, mystery, YA, non- fiction, horror, etc.
What is the book about - I recommend sending in a short synopsis or at the very least, the blurb you will be putting on the back cover
If Romance - details about the hero and heroine from color of eyes and hair to if they look like a certain movie star. All of these are important because most smaller prints use stock model shots, so they will be sliding that picture into a background that will reflect your book.
Key Elements in the story - objects or locations that figure prominently. For example, a treasure chest, flowers, a castle.
Are there other covers that might compare - it's a good idea to look at other covers in your genre and reference them for a particular feel or look. Submitting links or websites will give the artist a good understanding of a cover with a similar feel.
Is there anything you don't want on the cover - One of my cover artists - Rae Monet, asks this question. For myself, although I write romance, I don't necessarily want to see abs and or a typical couple posed on the cover. Answering this question, will give your artist an idea of what you might consider cliche and narrow the vision they have in their head for your book.

My Reveal !

So for my newest book, I did my research, looking at other blogs and cover artists that had a great reputation in the industry. Because my book will be in print and as an ebook, I had to find an artist who offered both packages as well as other options like multiple designs, liberal options for changes and a decent turnaround time.

With multiple awards and numerous covers on the USA Today and New York Times bestsellers lists, I opted to go with Damonza. After filling in their questionnaire, and anxiously waiting for ten days, I received back two covers. The first shows the location and a key object in my book.

 The second is a more traditional romance cover, but with the suspense and edginess that comes with a paranormal mystery romance.  

So which did I choose? After several days of polling friends on Facebook, I went with the majority, which was ... ( drum role please), the blue cover.
 It was then submitted to my publisher for approval and I have to agree, my friends made the right choice.
 I did however purchase the second cover as well, which I will use for marketing purposes, and because I love it too. Did I make the right choice? Feel free to comment below.


  1. I like both covers but like you say the second one definitely points more to romance.The first one is more like Davinci code type mystery thing to me which is good as well. I like the idea of getting both and using them for promo. I am just delving into self pub and picking a cover was interesting.

  2. As new authors recently signed with Soul Mate I found this very helpful. Thank you for your insights. Great covers too.
    Larry M.

  3. I like your blue book cover best too - the one without the woman's face.
    Jack from Black Opal Books did my cover. I liked it except the title was written like in gory blood and thought that appeared more as a horror or vampire book than a cozy mystery. I asked for small changes and got them all. It was one less thing to worry about having the publisher do it.

    1. Jack is very talented. He helped me do the marketing for my other Black Opal book - Showdown at Evil High. While I don't use him for my covers, he's a great asset and very quick to respond.

  4. Thanks for sharing your cover journey. I am about to go through the process for the second time (actually the 3rd time--but that's another story) and this gives me some insight. I like both covers but I actually like the cover with people on it--it gives a bit more insight into the story while just the key and background is more impersonal.Since I haven't read the story I can't say which is more fitting. Good luck.

    1. I had a hard time choosing between the two because writing romance made me go for the couple out of instinct, and I did request to see a cover with them on it.
      What changed my mind, was asking people if all they knew was the genre - Paranormal, mystery romance - and nothing else, which would they choose. Most of the reasons made a lot of sense - prefer to decide what the characters look like myself, seeing the key makes me want to know more, etc. So in the end, I decided to go for the cover that would have more of a universal appeal than to just my fellow romance readers out there.

      Intrigued about your second/third time. Is it in your blog somewhere?