We’re back on covers, folks. (Does publishing ever feel like a never ending merry-go-round? I’m totally on board right now–spinning, spinning, spinning–two steps forward, five back)
Let me begin with this: The 11th hour change was as unexpected and surprising to me as it will be for you. We all know how much effort and energy I poured into it making the original cover “just so”…now, the change that is coming…while exciting, as anything creative naturally is, it’s also equally surprising…
I like my first cover and I was initially thrilled with it. It fell snuggling within my budget (hooray!) and the artist, Christine, came highly recommended (double hooray!!). It was a wonderful experience working with her and she did capture my self-imagined image perfectly. I cannot recommend her enough to anyone looking for an artist to make cover magic happen…and I cannot find fault with her on anything, whatsoever, this is all me–100%.
But…because there is always a but…
A couple of things happened…
1. Christine is highly sought after. Her business blooms constantly and a wait-list developed rather quickly.
This created sort of a kink in the armor, shall we say. I plan to have THE MILESTONE TAPES available for both print-on-demand (POD publishing) and electronically. I always knew this was the agenda for the book, but–for whatever reason–I failed to commission a spine and back design at the time I commissioned the cover. My bad. Christine made a public announcement saying she was booked solid for a good and long time. Ergo, if I stay the corse, I’ll be putting off publishing for an undetermined amount of time simply because Christine is so popular–good for her, bad for me.
2. The more the original stared at me from the screen of my computer, the more I wasn’t sure. I need to be sure-sure.
When you’re going it alone, like I obviously am, everything from editing to a cover matters a whole lot. And the entire onus of your product, your brand is on you–you and you alone. What you put out, you need to love–you should love it with every fiber of your being, that’s sort of the point of keeping your spoon in the pot for the whole process. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…you get ONE CHANCE with your book to make the biggest splash possible. Without a marketing machine behind you, your responsible for your own ship.
Once I started to think it over seriously…look at it through the eyes of the reader…I wasn’t sure if it had the pop I originally believed it did. Again, this isn’t about anyone but me. I’m most critical of my own creations, that should be fairly obvious by now, and my critical side was giving me the “hmmm” voice.
3. While the “rights” to use the image for my cover are mine–whereas, promotional usage is limited. I cannot create book marks or magnets or any other swag with its likeness.
That, right there, is a big flippin’ deal. Again, something I didn’t know, but am smarter for figuring out now as opposed to later.
This is a good thing for us all to think about, really: If you’re ever going to use the image for anything other than the cover, you’re SOL unless you’re willing to shell out serious cash for all the rights. And let’s face it, if you’re an Indie Author and you’re beating feet traveling to book fairs and pub clubs and panels, you need to offer something to your public, funds be damned really. You, as the author, need the trinkets that say to someone “buy my book!”. Have you ever been at an Expo and saw a product that was great but you wanted to think about it, only, you forgot to get the card? That’s what this whole thing equates too. It’s the deal sealer, the final offering…it’s you’re appeal of: please, take this book mark and remember me.
So, that changed things.
Again, I was out there looking for someone to do something amazing….
I discovered an artist, Renu Sharma, who does original work. She is extremely creative and her digital art is some of the most beautiful work I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t afford her.
Renu works as a commission artist. That simply means, she hires models, takes their pictures, digitally changes the image to reflect an otherworldly theme and makes magic happen. They are sincerely original–from the model to the finished piece. That comes with an equivalent price tag.
I originally contacted Renu to work with me on my second cover. But, she launched a fall sale on pre-done, noncommissioned work. The process is all the same…original model, original piece, only, the ones on sale were homeless.
THE MILESTONE TAPES is a character driven piece of literature. It pings into the lives of imaginary people with all the gusto of real life. Since I write women’s fiction or literary fiction, the world is real while the people are not. But, it all needs to stay grounded in the “it could be real” realm of writing, it should all feel real–the characters should be interchangeable with people you know.
Have you ever been haunted by something? That one thing you should have bought because it would have been perfect?
Welcome to feeling that inspired the change.
While cruising the “sale section” of Renu’s portfolio I discovered the most magical, beautiful, haunting image of this little girl. She had dark chestnut hair and ethereal blue eyes with the sweetest pouty lips. She was my Mia. Okay, not literally Mia…but as the author, I can tell you, that is Mia. The highlights of dark and light and the innocence of the face, my guttural reaction was–that’s my girl. Oh my God, the moment itself was surreal, it was as though I looking at a picture of my character. It was seeing her…which tripped me out…but also inspired me to rethink my stance on covers at large.
When I wrote Mia, it was after I had written Gabe and Jenna. I knew what they looked liked, I had fleshed them out so clearly and I mashed them up to create their child; his eyes, her hair, his nose, her smile. So seeing a photo that so entirely caught that image and held it–it was more like seeing them all stare back at me from the screen of my computer. How do you walk away from that moment? The answer is, you don’t.
I quickly took a screen shot and sent it to the only other person who has read my book cover to cover. She loved it. Her exact response was “Mia?” and all I had to say was… “Mia.”
While it’s more literal than the first cover, it’s still falls way short of spelling out the context of the book. I am not generally a fan of characters on covers. I feel like there are times when “spelling it out” steals an experience from the reader, the chance they have to–in their own mind–create the character in the image of which the writing inspires. But, I can’t help myself. This girl needs to be on my cover.
So…change, it is a coming.
Soon THE MILESTONE TAPES will have a new beautiful face lift…and I will be the real owner of it, free to use it for any and all promotional plugs I desire. I will probably still use the original cover in some fashion or another–a special release or paper back edition–but I am so drawn to the new cover, I can’t make promises.