So, with the blessing of my ninja agent, I bravely set off down the self publishing road (for this project at least!)
The most important thing I needed (next to a great (and professionally edited) story!) was a killer cover. Or so that's what I heard over and over, during the self publishing track I attended, at the RWA International Conference in Atlanta this summer.
"Your cover is your calling card. Your first point of contact with your reader, and quite possibly your last," said one of the renowned speakers. And I couldn't agree more. I think this statement rings true for both traditional and self published books, it's just that self published authors have sole control over their covers.
Thus, the density of their books lie in their own hands.
With that in mind, I set off to create the best cover I could. One that would "invite, tantalize and intrigue," as another speaker said. Keeping in mind, it should be "visually attractive as both a 'book cover' and 'thumbnail", as well as "informationally and visually stimulating." A lot to ask of one little thumbnail, but it had to happen. Gulp. After all it would be "the first point of contact with my reader" now wouldn't it? Shiver.
I started out like most self published authors do, searching through stock photos, but quickly realized how many other authors might have some form the same photo on their covers, and although I could manipulate it to make it more my own, we'd still be sharing a "calling card." So I decided to go for it and spring for an original photo shoot.
I had no idea how much fun that would be.
It just so happens I'm blessed with some pretty amazing writing friends, and I'm part of incredibly supportive writing community, who are always there to help me out in a pinch. Out of that came the following; a referral to a WONDERFUL photographer, the PERFECT model (the borrowed daughter of a writing friend,) one TALENTED son, and a recommendation to SUPER FLEXIBLE and CREATIVELY TALENTED book cover artist...and like I said before...a lot of fun.
I spent over two weeks scouring the internet until the wee hours of the morn, to secure just the perfect costume for the model to wear. First I had to find the right dress (to which I still made a few alternations), then the perfect necklace, and finally a crinoline (turned out a rental worked fine). Make up and hair had to be planned and arranged, and a pose--the all important pose--had to be found. Again, I scoured the net for countless hours searching for something that appealed to me. I blew things up. I shrunk things down. I cropped things this way and that and stared at them again. Was it appealing? Striking? Original?
It had to be. This was to be my calling card.
Finally, I came up with a short list of contenders that I shared with the photographer and the model so they could prepare. Then, on the day of the shoot, we all let creativity take over. There's no better way. Trust me.
The day of the shoot was so much fun! Everyone was there. Myself, the photographer, the model, her mom, my son (my special effects man) and another friend who had hooked me up with the photographer (who brought badly needed coffee).
In the end I was awarded with so many wonderful shots I could barely choose just one. In fact, I didn't. Surprise! Those of you who order the print copy will be treated to a second wonderful shot, appearing on the back cover.
Then, it was time to ship the photos off to the book cover artist(s) where communication is KEY. You have to know what you want and make sure your cover artist(s) understand your vision, while allowing them space enough to bring their own creative talents to the project. After all, that's what you hired them for, right?
Space. Patience. Revision. Room to breathe. And more revisions. Edit. Proof. Polish. Publish. That's how it went.
Much the same process as writing the book. But then again, it only makes sense that it would. If you're going to put that much effort into the words inside, don't you think you owe it to the cover to do the same?
After all, "you cover is your calling card."
I'm super pleased with how my cover turned out!