Saturday, March 8, 2014

Independent Publishing: Getting the Cover Right

I love my cover for Catch Me Falling, an original commissioned work of art from Mark Bulahao. It captures the poignancy of the story perfectly. See for yourself, and tell me the picture does pique a sense of wistful sadness within you.

However, there is always a however. I typically dislike howevers. However ... I received feedback from two unrelated sources that the cover was not reflective of the novel's genre and target audience. One response was, "lovely cover, and intriguing, but looks like a novel from the 70's or 80's." The other comment was similar, but not as friendly. Hurtful words, indeed. But after careful consideration, I found that I could not vigorously disagree. My emotional push back to the comments peaked at pathetic. So, back to the drawing board. Literally.

Based on a Wattpad experience of posting the first portion of the story, I know that the market for this novel are females under the age of thirty and over the age of fifty. Strange, I know, but the vast majority of the thirty fans of the Wattpad excerpt fell into those two categories. A little research told me that the first group (under-thirty women) are looking for bodice-ripper romance in imaginative forms - paranormal, fantasy, sci-fi, etc. The second group craves the same, but in gentler forms, as if seen through the lens of nostalgic memory. Covers for such novels have certain hallmarks, including:
  • A woman and a man with obscured or semi-obscured faces
  • Photo realistic renderings of the woman and man (not drawings)
  • Hot guys with bare chests
  • Women ignoring said hot guys, or playing hard-to-get
  • Women physically assaulting said hot guys with lips, arms, and legs
  • Visible emotional or sexual tension between the two
Catch Me Falling is not overtly sexual, so the physical assault style is not right. However, the novel is emotionally wringing, so every other hallmark is appropriate. So, I sifted through several thousand photos on in search of the picture in my head. The result was the following cover, which I created from three intriguing photos using GIMP (a free but difficult-to-use tool that mimics PhotoShop without the $600 price tag). I think it kind of pops. What say you?

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