Eight months ago I had the cover designed for my as-yet-unpublished novel, Compromise With Sin. As an indie author it was my responsibility, not that of an editor and publishing house, to produce a cover. The upside is I got a cover I want. The downside is I paid for it, but it was well worth it.
For starters, I did a Google search for historical novel book covers and selected the “Images” tab. One of the first things I noticed was a trend to feature a woman’s body without the head, not something I wanted to emulate.
By looking at pages of thumbnails, I could tell which covers and titles stood out. I’ve seen too many covers with unreadable titles on Amazon.
Another Google search, this one for book designers, led me to 99Designs. Here’s where I entered a whole new world. 99designs has a worldwide stable of graphic designers who vie for jobs in what are called “Contests.” I signed up at the $300 Bronze level (the lowest). I was guaranteed a cover I’d like or it wouldn’t cost me anything.
Writer friend Brad Whittington advised me to be very clear about describing what I wanted, so I wrote up instructions with photographs: Cover Concept submit to 99Designs
Nineteen graphic designers submitted drafts at the start of my seven-day contest. I was able to write messages to the group or individuals. A few dropped out. Most submitted revisions. One message I sent to the group said, “You’re a talented designer, so surprise me,” but no one did. They stuck to my concept. The process of tweaking continued. At one point I was so over-stimulated I couldn’t sleep.
Once I narrowed the field to six, I held a Poll, inviting about 20 friends to weigh in. As it turned out, the cover I selected was not the most popular one. I made my choice for two reasons: 1) I was having problems due to a language barrier between me and the designer of the popular image, and 2) I decided I liked the portrayal of a woman who looked like she could be trouble.
My chosen designer was Kristin Bryant. We did some tweaking after I selected her design. I wanted the woman’s jaw and eyebrows softened.
One thing that amazed me is the designers’ ability to achieve a painted effect with stock photos. Kristin did add a few original elements, including the people in the car.
Since the contest ended she has continued to work with me on details, such as adding my author photo to the back cover.
Before getting the cover designed, I saw my story in terms of a manuscript. The cover brought it closer to becoming a real book.
Novelist Takes on Publisher Over Deal With Hate-Monger
“I guess I’m putting my money where my mouth is,” a feminist novelist told BuzzFeed. Roxann Gay withdrew her latest novel from publication by Simon & Schuster after the publisher signed a six-figure deal with Breitbart editor and hate-monger Milo Yiannopoulos.
Saying she was taking a stand against normalizing racism, Gay said, “. . . this isn’t about censorship. . . . Milo has every right to say what he wants . . . I’m not interested in doing business with a publisher who gives him that privilege [of publication].”
Read more on NPR.