How I Crafted a Book Cover

Posted: September 11, 2015 in art, books, cover art, e-books, FAMILY, Independent Publishing
Tags: , ,

It’s true what they say, ‘work hard enough and dreams really do come true.’

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Book covers are funny things. They say, that whether browsing in a book store or skimming the options on Amazon.com, the instinctive impulse to buy is stimulated by the visual impact of the cover. I think the jacket created for Butterfly Hollow, by my friend, Maria Toth, is particularly striking. Does it arrest us? Yes, it does. I find when I’m shopping at book fairs, that whether I pause or not comes down to the imagery on the cover.

A good cover sells.

However, it’s not the only factor in my decision to buy. That would come down to cover, back cover blurb, and first couple of paragraphs on the first page, in that order. For me, personally, because the cover is so important, I wanted to get my first one just right.

In the last issue of my Newsletter, I shared a great blog post over on Writers in the Storm, which was about the science of colours and how the colours we choose for our book covers affect the buyers.

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You are constructing the Neverland of your choice, whether your setting looks like Hogwart’s school for wizards, or New York City. Set the parameters to match the boundaries of your heart. –Jane Yolen

As I’ve worked on ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ I wondered sometimes what the cover would look like. I’ve collected blog posts and articles on trends in fantasy covers and various ideas as to what sells and  what doesn’t. For a first-timer like myself, when it comes to creating the imagery for the cover, it’s actually quite an intimidating job.

The all-important debut cover essentially introduces you the writer, and your brand, to the world.

But when it came down to it, for me personally, it was about following “the parameters of my heart” as Yolen put it so eloquently.

Although I’m not against using stock photography for a cover one day, this project needed the human touch. This book required choosing the right person for the job.

As I completed the final edits of my book, I was very happy to coax my incredibly talented nephew, Simon Kingi, out of his early retirement to do the artwork for the cover. I knew I could trust him to do my vision justice.

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Since that fateful day, Si and I have communicated back and forth quite a lot over the development and direction of the image of the book’s central character, Aden Weaver. If any of the readers here know Si personally, they would attest to the fact that any sort of sustained conversation with this guy is hard to get. The art part was a bonus. 🙂

The first image Si sent me, from the moment I set eyes on it, my breath was taken away, and I loved my hero, Aden Weaver.

However, I had to send that version back, because of the fairy wings. Aden is a shape-shifter with dragonfly wings not those of a fairy. Also, Si had him wearing heavy boots, which looked like they would make flying difficult.

The dagger in Aden’s hand does not appear in the story in any form. However, a large curved and engraved knife belonging to the Sasori warriors does feature prominently. I took a bit of artistic licence and encouraged Si to make the blade in Aden’s hand into the Sasori weapon.

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So the next image from Si, he had changed the fairy wings to dragonfly wings. And the short dagger had been replaced by an engraved, curved blade.

I thought these wings were spectacularly rendered and beautiful, however, in the half-mast position, the image didn’t inspire me.

Also, I preferred the ephemeral colours of the fairy wings which more approximated dragonfly wings in my mind’s eye. I had to reluctantly send him back.

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The next image I got from Si, he’d hit it out of the ballpark.

Now we had Aden! Seeing my beloved character and his mentor come to life on the screen before me – gosh, what a thrill, what a victory – it really was a wonderful moment I’ll never forget.

The photos offered here don’t do him justice. They are obviously just samples, little teasers. I’m attempting to fill the gap while I wait for the final version of the book cover from the printers, which I’m assured is coming soon.

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Last week, Si and I started communicating about the baddie, our villain of the piece, Chief Wako, but soon realized we were running out of time. The book launch party is set for September 19th. I don’t want to rush anything at this late stage. Everything about this project, I want to be of a quality that reflects the years of focus that have gone into its creation.

Simon and I abandoned the idea of including Chief Wako on the cover. We agreed it was better to have Aden on the cover, alone with his miniature friend, pet fruit fly, Geo.

My intuition is that the readers are being introduced to this character for the first time, anyway. It’s like a first date. They want to really look at Aden and study him and get to know to him from a safe distance. So it is appropriate that only Aden, and Geo, appear on the cover.

We’ve left Si’s initial workings of the baddie, Chief Wako, aside for when it comes to working on the sequel. Although I did use Si’s concept of Wako to come up with a pen and ink drawing for inside the book. (Which I’ll detail in a separate blog post).

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The resulting illustration is okay. I’m the first to admit that Simon’s Wako is far more handsome than mine!

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Si, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. You’ve got a gift.

I’ll be forever grateful to you for taking the time out of your busy life to breathe life into this character for me. As in times of ancient Egypt, when the scribes were nothing without the designers, and the designers were nothing without the scribes, my story has become animated through the magic of your images. Thank you. May you be blessed with a dozen roasts on-the-spit cooked to perfection, and with a thousand healthy camels.

Well done, my nephew! Extra chicken wings for you at the launch…and a gift is coming your way, of course!

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The countdown has begun. Eight days and counting until  the day of my book launch on the 19th. Therefore, I’ll be adding extra posts and updates throughout the coming week. As soon as I have a copy of the final version of the cover, I’ll post it as a “cover reveal” here on my blog, too.

Stay tuned! There sure is a lot of excitement going on around this here neck of the woods.

It’s true what they say, ‘work hard enough and dreams really do come true.’

What about you, what are you working on that means the most to you? Have you crafted your own book cover?

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Keep Creating!

Talk soon,

Yvette K. Carol

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Awaken to the brilliance in ordinary moments. – Jeanette LeBlanc

The term hero was applied from earliest times to one possessed with superhuman strength and courage and favoured by the gods. Later the word applied to those valiant in battle, noble in their aims and chivalrous in their actions. -Julie Piggott, Japanese Mythology

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Comments
  1. Simon did a great job Yvette – getting a character’s look RIGHT is always the most difficult part of a cover 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Yes, I agree. It’s so important. A lot of times, the covers I see by self-published authors have a same-y sort of look these days. I really wanted something different! That’s why I needed someone of Si’s level of genius. The fact that he’s family was a bonus.
      Cool fact: his sister had been instrumental in the development of the story in the early days of this series as well. It’s a family affair and I love that.
      Thank you for the comment, Chris! *waves 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Diana Wilder says:

    Beautifully done, and I’d be excited, too! It’s wonderful being an artist (something I am not, though I design my own covers). I really enjoyed this post – it’s so enjoyable (and flattering) to be allowed inside the workings of a project, seeing the thoughts and impressions and enjoying the final project. So happy for you – Si is a treasure! (and lucky in his aunt, since it’s so much rewarding, when you’re trying to create and dealing with someone who is, himself or herself, creative.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Catherine Johnson says:

    It looks awesome, Yvette. You must have to have such a lot of trust in having the illustrator do what you like but in his style also. Kudos to you both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Yes, that’s true. I’ve always believed this guy is some kind of artistic genius, however, someone whose brilliance has only ever been seen by friends and family. You see, I’m also on a secret mission to share his art with the rest of the world!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a fabulous collaboration between Simon and you on this cover! I know it will be stunning. Congratulations on nailing this next step in your self-publishing process!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. emaginette says:

    Excellent post. The cover has a big job and I’m glad yours is up to it. 😉

    Anna from Elements of Writing

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      I’m glad too! I don’t think of myself as a visual person and yet to me, if someone puts out their precious baby with anything less than a stellar cover, it seems such a shame, such a waste of effort. The fact is, first impressions are everything! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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