- by Barbara Meyers
Independently publishing one’s own books is an interesting journey. The conventional wisdom is you shouldn’t proceed without professional cover art if you want your book to sell. I was referred to cover artist Katerina Vamvasaki by another author.
After informing her I’d never done this before, I initially e-mailed her the following:
There a couple of elements I’d like to see on the cover of Not Quite Heaven:
1) red camisole. (My thought is it would look like it’s been discarded on an unmade bed or perhaps tossed over the back of a chair maybe with a fireplace in the background.)
2) Pages of a manuscript in disarray. (Tumbled in the vicinity of the red camisole, falling off a bed or chair.)
Other possible elements:
A cabin in a mountain setting with snow. Half of the story is set in a Maine mountain upscale cabin (lots of wood and glass) when h/h are snowed in together. The 2nd half of the story is in NYC.
A large black and white dog. (Hero has one. Dog takes a bullet for him in second half of story.)
Manuscript pages. (Hero is a best-selling author who’s blocked.)
For that matter, maybe the dog is lying in a scatter of manuscript pages with his head on top of the camisole. With a fireplace in the background. Ha ha.
Heroine is also a writer, but of non-fiction.
Katerina’s first attempt which rendered seven possibilities garnered these comments from me:
1) Dog looks too happy. Should have floppy ears. Camisole not prominent enough.
2) Like it but needs more.
3) Like it but not car in front and what’s in background? Anywhere to put camisole in there?
4) Like it – background color – not car. Can you put house in snow on there instead?
5) Like the trees; house looks too small; snow-covered car okay; camisole?
6) Too much brown; like other elements, though.
Can you put camisole in #2 above trees/roofline in #5?
Keep in mind this is all done via e-mail. At some point I sent her the book’s synopsis. After a few more back and forths, I discovered the image of the red camisole I loved in #2 would cost $360! Way over my intended budget…but I loved the image of the sheer camisole floating in the middle of a brilliant blue sky dotted with puffy white clouds. Not Quite Heaven, right?
(I became fixated on the red camisole idea because it’s a recurring theme in the story.)
At this point, Katerina pointed me to the source for stock photo images and I spent a weekend looking at photos trying to come up with other ideas. I kept coming back to the floating camisole image as perfection. Only the price tag stopped me. The phrase “go big or go home” ran through my head more than once. I sent Katerina another e-mail and she responded with another cover idea.
Keeping the sky, she added a swatch of sheer red fabric floating vertically across it and my tagline for the book in the lower right corner. This idea captured the same feel of the red camisole without the big price tag. Plus it had the snow-covered treetops along the bottom. It was bold and bright and would have impact for online viewers.
A few more tweaks and I have a cover I love.
After I released the digital version of Not Quite Heaven earlier this month, I interviewed Katerina for my blog. In her words: “Never underestimate the importance of a professional, visually pleasing cover. It shows respect for your own work and attention to detail. Speaking as a reader, a good cover implies to me that equal care has been taken with the content of the book as well.”