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!

First Draft Is Off To The Editor

Today I emailed off the first draft of my second book, The Last Letter, to my editor.

  Happy Author Face!

Happy Author Face!

When I say I emailed off my first draft of The Last Letter, I actually mean I emailed a version of my manuscript where parts of it are version eight, other parts are version six. Some chapters, mainly the later ones, are versions three or four. Some sentences, nay, whole paragraphs, have gone through so many edits, they bear no resemblance to the very first draft I wrote.

So when I say I've emailed off my first draft of The Last Letter to my editor, what I really mean is that I emailed off the first version of my manuscript that someone other than myself will read. A scary thought. Exciting, and terrifying too.

About twenty minutes after I hit the send button, I started thinking about all the things I could have done to improve that first draft. What about the Raja? Will how I've left things at the Old Curiosity Shop make the readers happy? Thoughts tumbled over and over in my mind, querying my attention to detail, my historical accuracy. Did I have enough tantalising tidbits about antiques? Have I done justice to India? To New Zealand? To my characters and their hopes and dreams?

But, in the immortal words of Queen Elsa (from the Disney juggernaut Frozen), I have to let it go. It's out there now. My editor will tell me, in his gentle manner, whether what I've written is good enough, or whether I need to brood over it for a period of time before I send it back to him. And somewhere along the line we'll go through the manuscript page by page, line by line, where the annotated word document flies through the internet at various speeds, correcting comma's, tenses, removing Americanisms (which tend to creep in), and various other issues.

And so I wait. And in the time it will take my editor to read my 131,000 word manuscript I'll attend to my social media platforms, which I have left forgotten in the corner while I tried to fill plot holes and create characters who pushed their way off the page.

Thanks for your patience everyone. This will now very much be a case of watch this space!

The Last Letter
By Kirsten McKenzie