Choosing a book’s cover art is a wildly speculative, risk-filled endeavor. Authors who are working within the traditional agent/publisher system don’t often have a say in the final appearance of their book. For example, an author friend wrote a story featuring a short, bearded, dwarf woman. The final cover art shows a pretty, normal height human with long curly hair and nary a whisker on her face. This startled me, as that beard was a big deal in the story line.
I’ve had the logic explained to me many times. And I get it—there’s a certain look that sells books, and that look doesn’t necessarily reflect the author’s vision of the story.
After comparing our rankings, I know that author is selling more books than me. But, for me, I really needed my cover art to reflect the story inside. As an indie author, I get to make that decision, and I like it that way.
However. Keep in mind that as an indie author, choosing your own cover art might please you, but it will never please your entire audience. You need to accept that fact, and make your decisions accordingly. If you want to take some liberties with the cover art to sell more books, please do so and I hope your royalties are healthy! If you’re a realist that wants to give potential readers a glimpse into how you view your story, you have the power to make that choice.
Personally, the cover for The Flight To Brassbright utterly delights me. It was hand-drawn for me by an artist I very much like and respect, and we had such fun during the process. It’s unconventional, more than a little goofy, drenched in bright primary colors, and if it were a comic book or a cartoon, you’d probably love it unconditionally.
But it’s not a comic book, or a cartoon. It’s a cover for a young adult story. My plot is serious, but I tell the story in a lighthearted manner. It’s laced liberally with puns, wordplay, wacky humor and weird Easter eggs (bet you can’t find them all!) That’s how I write. That’s what makes me happy. That’s how I’m wired. It’s most definitely my book. Some people love it, others dismiss it. That’s okay, and I think quite acceptable.
I couldn’t help smiling at two reviews from The Naked Reviewers website. I was very pleased with both of them. They are filled with praise where deserved, and respectful, constructive criticism where they felt it was needed. I appreciate their candor and take to heart the thoughts in both reviews. To my amusement though, I noticed that both reviewers mentioned the cover art.
“Already, the story had me intrigued with its whimsical vintage circus cover and pseudo late Victorian setting…” — Diane Anderson
“My one suggestion to the writer is to choose a better cover artist. This cover has its charm, but it isn’t hugely attractive.” — Olivia Wylie
You can’t please everyone. That’s just a fact of the writer’s life, Don’t let that intimidate you or stifle your writing. Just accept it, do the very best you can, and with luck your book will find it’s audience.
Oh, and in case you need a reminder—here’s my cover! You might want to put on your sunglasses.