BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE READER

Choosing a book cover is akin to choosing the name for a baby. You mull it over. You sound it out. You might share it with a few trusted friends. But in the end the decision is yours. And that decision can make or break the 80,000 words you've toiled over for the past year, two years, ten years.

This week I commenced the scary but exciting task of choosing a cover for my next book, for my horror novel PAINTED. I put the pitch out to DesignCrowd, and waited for the designs to roll in.

And they are. And some of them are amazing! I want to launch PAINTED now, today. Right this very second. I want to show you all the designs, I'm that excited. Designs have come in from Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Azerbaijan, UK, Bulgaria, Spain, India and Romania. And there is still a week to go in the design period. 

I keep refreshing the DesignCrowd page, looking for new designs. I already have my favourites, I've popped my top five down below. But I'll run a proper poll over on my Facebook page once the design period ends, and you can all vote for your favourite then - go here to be involved - FACEBOOK

I'd still love to have your feedback now though! Comments below are welcome.

Looking at the original book covers Stephen King used, there wasn't a lot of blood and gore on those. In fact, if you look at the current top 100 books on the Amazon horror list, very few of them feature blood, guts or gore in any form (although some of the new Stephen King covers do...).

So tell me, what do you like to see on the cover of a horror novel? Minimalist? Blood? Black and white imagery? Skull and crossbones? Comment on this post, and I'll put your name in the draw to win a signed copy of PAINTED when it is published in June 2017.

My Top Five Cover Designs, so far!

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THE ENTIRELY TRICKY TASK OF CHOOSING A BOOK COVER

NEVER EVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER...

ALWAYS JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER...

IT'S WHATS BETWEEN THE COVER WHICH COUNTS...

With the publication date of my second book, 'The Last Letter', looming, now comes the trickiest part of publishing. The cover design.

Writing the book was easy. Editing the book was fairly easy. Choosing a cover for the book? Not at all easy.

So far, we are up to draft #3, and I'm hopeful draft #4 will be the final version.

Before signing a contract with Accent Press, I'd paid for a cover design through the website Design Crowd. To this day, I still love their version.

        The winning Design Crowd cover

       The winning Design Crowd cover

Accent Press advised that this image wouldn't work when its shrunk down to Amazon icon size. So, after signing my first publishing contract with them, they proposed this cover:

 It was a little more gruesome than I'd anticipated...

It was a little more gruesome than I'd anticipated...

After some discussion, revolving around a cover with less blood, we agreed on the fantastic cover which now appears in your bookcases.

And now we move onto the process of choosing a cover for my second book, 'The Last Letter'.

Without giving too much of the plot away, the story takes you back to New Zealand, India and England. With a splash of Roman antiquities, Maori carvings, and a hint of Spitfire pilots in WWII.

My publisher is based overseas, so understandably their knowledge of the appropriate use of Maori imagery wasn't as up with the play as mine. Especially when there are hundreds, if not thousands, of stock images of Maori carvings and taonga (treasure) available on the Internet. And while I did adore the first cover they designed, after taking advice from two trusted Maori colleagues, I had to veto the use of the Maori carving, which in essence, is the depiction of someone's ancestor, a high ranking chieftain by the looks of it.

So then we toyed around with the idea of a greenstone necklace, a Roman statue, pocket watches. I've now realised that pocket watches are synonymous with time slip novels, and adorn almost every cover out there. The designers at Accent Press then came up with an image of a hei tiki (tiki), which I loved.

After much discussion on Facebook and Twitter, it was roundly agreed that the balance of the two images was out. Do you agree?

 Draft #2 of the cover for 'The Last Letter'. We all agreed that the balance was out.

Draft #2 of the cover for 'The Last Letter'. We all agreed that the balance was out.

So it was sent back to the designer, who tweaked the colour balance, removed an errant watermark off the tiki's hand, and deleted a random full stop at the end of the tagline. This was the version that came back:

 Draft cover #3 for 'The Last Letter'

Draft cover #3 for 'The Last Letter'

Almost there. Almost, but not quite.

I compared a printout of the draft cover, with the cover of 'Fifteen Postcards', and was struck with the fact that my author name wasn't in the same position. Which, to me, looked peculiar. What do you think? Is this just my OCD, or do you agree that the author name needs to be in the same place on both books, and on the future third book in the series? So it was sent back for more tweaking!

 Comparison of draft cover #3 and the final cover of Fifteen Postcards. Note the placement of the author name.

Comparison of draft cover #3 and the final cover of Fifteen Postcards. Note the placement of the author name.

My publisher is in the business of selling books, and they know which covers work, and which covers don't. I'm hoping to have the finalised cover back this coming week, ready for 'The Last Letter' to be released on the 1st of November, my birthday...

So there you have it. Choosing a cover is by far the hardest part of this whole process. So if you'll excuse me, I'll go back to writing another book in the meantime!