Tuesday, March 19, 2013

About Book Covers, Self-publishing, and "Cherry Soda Cowboy"

Sometime this week I'll be posting the preview of a new book cover for my upcoming indie Amazon release, "Cherry Soda Cowboy." I will post a book description when I do this, and I'll talk a little about the book in more detail. But now I'd like to talk about book covers with self-published books, and some of the issues that can, and do, come up.

And there's a specific reason why. I'm designing this cover myself and I'm not using a cover artist this time. And even though it's going to take more time than I really have right now, I'm doing it because I want it to look a certain way. I've also found that I enjoy designing these covers myself. It's almost therapeutic.

For those who do know about designing book covers on a budget, you know there are stock photos that can be purchased and used on book covers. I would love to hire Julian Fantechi to model on the cover, but I would go out of business within a month if I made a stupid business decision like that. The goal in self-publishing is to be a businessperson and author during production, and I don't know one businessperson who has ever dismissed weighing initial investment against return. For those who are thinking about self-publishing, you should pay attention to that closely. There's no need to lose your nest egg to self-publish a quality e-book. And if someone tells you otherwise send them over here. A lot of e-presses use the same stock photos I use for my self-pubbed covers, so this isn't something new. The covers are all different, and all original, but not always the models.

However, the last time I self-pubbed "A Sign From Heaven Above," we came up with a cover that I really loved...LOVED (Above). It was simple, the print was perfect, and it had that clean look I tend to like in book covers. Unfortunately, when I released a preview here on the blog and on social media, another author told me her recent book had the same model on the cover. We'd never seen her book, nor had I read it. I had no idea her book had the same model when we'd designed my cover. But to be nice, I took the cover down and started from scratch again. (To clarify...I'd used a cover artist and worked closely with Tony on that book cover. With publishers, cover artists don't ask your opinion, they just do it. I wanted more control with the artist and Tony, but I made it more complicated than necessary. I did that with Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street, too, and I've learned from my mistakes.)

The second time, without knowing it, I chose the exact same model that Gay Rom Lit had used for their web site last year. The people at GRL didn't call this to my attention. I found it by accident while checking out a link about GRL I'd read on facebook last fall. I think it was right around the time GRL 2012 took place in Albuquerque, and if you check the link above you'll see it was in October. So, I went back to the proverbial drawing board once again and re-designed the entire cover a third time. Tony was not a very happy man that week (smile).

I was ultimately pleased with the end  result of the third design of "A Sign From Heaven Above," but it was more than frustrating redoing the cover so many times. And, as a side note, the first two covers were completely original and weren't like anything else that had ever been done before. It was only the model himself that was the same as GRL and on the other author's cover.

So this time I'm doing it differently. When I release the preview of "Cherry Soda Cowboy," that's the final cover and I'm not changing it again. If it so happens another book is out there with the same model (model being the key word), or a web site is using that model, so be it. I love my cover, I paid for permission, it took a long time to design (not simple putting cherry soda and cowboys together), and I can legally use it. If there are any other books out there with that same model, I'm telling you in advance I didn't plan it. As I stated, there are photos and stock images for sale and some are more popular than others. I haven't figured out a way to do an exact search to see where the model has been used before, and they don't tell you that when you buy the image.

And I promise this: the cover will be different and there's no other like it out there with a title similar to "Cherry Soda Cowboy." I doubt there's another story like this out there anywhere either.

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