Recently, I came across an article [ https://blog.reedsy.com/book-cover-design ] posted by NaNoWriMo about indie writers and making the perfect cover for their novels. Most days, I would have kept on scrolling past the article, but I decided to take a look at some of the ideas the article gave us. The main reason I looked into it was because my fiancé was talking about possibly redoing his book covers in order to possibly draw in some more readers, as his sales have kind of dropped recently.
It started with giving an idea of how much getting a professionally done cover would cost a person. I sometimes forget that you can hire a professional to do your cover work for you, but I have specific looks in mind, and honestly can be a little controlling when it comes to my own projects. I get very nervous leaving something as important as this in someone else hands. Plus, knowing the cost of it could be anywhere between $300-$1500… yikes? Though Jon said he paid about $300 for his cover artwork to be done by a professional.
One of the other things they mentioned was getting a pro that works in your genre to do your cover design. I’m not sure how many people out there work in steampunk, but it did make me think a little about Jon’s. I asked what genre the artist normally worked in. Sci-fi. This could have been one of the reasons leading to dropping sales. Though his cover art is really nice, it’s kind of hard to really tell that it’s a fantasy book.
There are several different ways an artist could come up with your cover art. Stock images, illustrations, or even original photography. This is where I’m sitting there and really wondering about how mine is going to come together. As I’ve stated before in several other posts, I’ve been working on making a dress that appears at a point in my novel. I was going to use it as a way of promotion for the book. Shots in the dress as the character Vanessa was an idea I had in order to make post cards for the book to advertise it, or other online ads, as well as shots that could be used for the cover itself. But how exactly it would be edited later was the thing that’s really been difficult.
I’ve been looking up other book covers in the steampunk genre to get some ideas, or even in the mystery genre. I have compiled a list of covers that I really enjoy, and why, and have been trying to figure out how exactly can I work something like these as my cover, and what other stock images would I need to accomplish my look.
As my first book is about Jack the Ripper, and the name of the book itself suggests letters, I really enjoyed the look of books #2 and #8, having something that is one of Jack’s original letters to the police, with a rip in it, showcasing through the rip, the character Vanessa. Include some gears and/or steam somehow along the bottom or edges might be a bit more of an indicator that the book is of the steampunk genre. Books #1 and #3 are appealing because they showcase a specific character, though I lean a little more towards the reoccurring look in #3, where the whole face of the character isn’t visible. It still leaves a little imagination to the reader. Which leads to why I like the look of #5 and #7, where it shows a character, but not all of them, on the top half of the cover, and the lower part shows a part of the setting of the story. An overview of Victorian London would be ideal in this case, but as the story revolves around Jack, perhaps a shot of old Whitechapel, or even one of the shots from one of the murders. Covers #4 and #6 are a bit of a stretch for a couple reasons. I liked the idea of #4, but instead of the clock, having a giant gear, with a silhouette of Vanessa in the center, and perhaps instead of the brick background, one of Jack’s letters. This sparked several other ideas of silhouettes and cut outs. And while #6 is very pretty and you do see the full character, it does scream romance, which my story is very much not. At least not at this time.
The hardest part about all these ideas is which of these can be continued on for future novels? As much as the set of #2 and 8 are appealing, I don’t know how I could work that into future novels. Same for #6, and possibly even #4. The others allow some play with even possibly showcasing other characters and locations that will be coming up.
And then I ran into another problem. I am using myself as a model for Vanessa. If I do want to continue to showcase other characters on the covers, where would I get other models? What about outfits? I considered turning to some friends. I have a photographer who already has volunteered his time to help me with the shoot for this first cover, and hopefully I can continue to turn to him for the future covers. But as certain characters have certain looks, I started to think of which of my friends could be these other characters. And how exactly do you go about asking them “Hey, I have some covers for a book I want you to model for?” For some of them, modeling for a cover wouldn’t be anything new, as they have done it before. The question would be cost. I could make the outfits for them to wear, it would be a matter of buying their time. Thinking of all this led Jon and me to another idea about cosplayers and cover art, but perhaps that is best for another blog later down the line.
The nice thing about being my own model, making my own costumes, and things like that, is that it’s saving a lot of money. Original photography for covers can cost anywhere between $500-$1,200 after you figure in the time for the photographer, the cost of licensing, paying the models, and then a hair and makeup artist.
They say at the beginning of the article, though you might have a friend who is exceptional at photoshop and it could be extremely tempting to use their free skills, don’t. It’s best to get a professional. For now, I’m going to try to take my own road and create everything myself. Yes, this is a very big risk I realize, but after years of working with my mother who did a lot of local advertising things for a big name company, I have a bit of a feel of how this could be done. If things bomb really badly, I can go back and look for an artist to help me create something better and do a second edition to my books. Though here’s to hoping that won’t be a thing.