I may be a cynic but I believe that convincing anyone of anything is 90% presentation. For a book, especially for an unknown author, that has to be the cover. I know, I know, you can’t judge a book, etc. But people do, especially with the plethora of books popping up on Amazon daily.
Having a slight artistic flair, I thought I might be able to D.I.M. – Do It Myself. But the acronym says it all – it wasn’t a good idea. What I came up with was very insipid and made the novel look like a text book.
Fortunately, eBook cover design is a flourishing business, but it all seemed rather expensive. Then when I was talking to Joanna Penn of the Creative Penn in a one hour’s consultation that my daughter, Lea, gave me as a Christmas present – more of that in another post – Joanna told me about Derek Murphy who runs CreativIndie.
Derek is an excellent book cover designer, as trawling through his catalogue showed. Not only that, his prices are very reasonable. I contacted Derek and we got moving with an exchange of ideas on how the cover of Rare Traits might look. From my list of suggestions, Derek favoured a cover that reflected the span of time in the book by using both old and modern figures and linking them with a DNA double helix. Once I saw some drafts, I was convinced and over a period of a few weeks, we refined the ideas. Derek found an image of a Renaissance painting – ‘Portrait of a Young Man’ by 15C artist Antonello da Messina, who happened to be born just three years after the main character in Rare Traits. A great and fun coincidence.
Choose your image with care!
During the process of looking for a face, Derek asked me if I had any particular features in mind. I had, of course, and I trawled around some stock sites and found a photo of a male model that looked about right. We even used him in some of the early mock-ups, but then Derek found Antonello’s painting. A little after that, I was driving through town when I looked up at a huge advertising hoarding and nearly crashed the car. There was the same male model advertising a local electronics chain. Since then, I have seen him in other adverts.
Fortunately, I haven’t so far seen ‘Portrait of a Young Man’ advertising any flat-screen TVs…
There are varying opinions from publishers regarding the use of faces on book covers. One camp says it’s not a good idea since readers prefer to have their own impression in their mind’s eye as to what the hero looks like. The other camp says perhaps, but if the face helps convey the theme of the novel, then it’s relevant to use it. Both camps are well-represented out there so I don’t think that there is any right answer. It all depends on the book and ultimately, in the case of an indie book, it’s the choice of the author.
I’m delighted with the Rare Traits cover design and the theme will be continued for the sequels as well as the print-on-demand paperback versions. See the drafts – at present minus faces – on the Home and Books pages.
If you have any comments on the cover, I be very pleased to receive them. And if you’re looking for a great cover designer, I should certainly recommend Derek.