Back in October I decided to terminate my agreement with my publishing channel. While this decision will provide me with greater creative control of my existing work, it also presented a major challenge in that I did not own the rights to my original cover design. I was going to have to address this as books don’t tend to sell without covers no matter how many times we are told not to judge them.
I reviewed my options:
- Sit back and sell nothing waiting for a big time publisher to sweep me off my feet and offer to pay for everything. Because that’s how it works, right…
- Do it myself with Photoshop and hope that the casual viewer doesn’t notice the rough edge where I accidentally erased out too many pixels, but hey it is only the cost of a stock photo license!
- Purchase a ready-made cover that might possibly, sorta, kinda, maybe represent a scene or theme from my book. Although, if I find a pre-made cover not requiring a full-page of explanation, does that mean the content of my work is so cliché that a suitable cover is on standby? Does that really matter? This option would be shoestring budget friendly. Meaning I could afford to actually do additional marketing with said cover.
- Hire a professional hoping that with my limited experience I’m able to identify someone capable of reading my mind in 2-4 tries (and in as many weeks or less) well enough to produce a cover that not only do I like, but readers do as well. Because if reader’s don’t, I just bought myself a nice new decoration for my shelf and little else.
- Launch a design contest and throw myself on the mercy of designers, some amateurs playing with Photoshop, some seasoned veterans, but all as hungry to distinguish themselves as I am. Sure, it could potentially cost more than hiring a single professional, but I’d have the one thing I was looking for when I started down this whole road – more choice (and a money back guarantee).
I thought long and hard about my options. It seemed that every 4th tweet that crossed my feed was “Bad Cover = Bad Sales!” No pressure!
After my eyes had gone blurry from viewing pages and pages of images and designer portfolios, I ultimately designed to bite the bullet and launched the design contest (I chose 99designs.com). Entries began to roll in. A few of the early designs looked similar to my Photoshop mock-ups. I felt justified. Talented even (I refused to worry that I made the wrong decision). I began to think maybe if this whole writing thing didn’t work out I could earn some spare change selling my own pre-made covers.
Additional entries started to roll in, and wow! I thought to myself, what an interesting idea – I wouldn’t have considered doing that! Now I understand what separates my Photoshop dabblings from experienced professionals. Keep them coming. In the words of my 2yo, “More! More!”
I found myself with over 160 entries in less than a week, and more than half of them were completely unique (I believe my experience may be atypical – I was told to expect 30). Suddenly all that choice I wanted so badly a week ago was overwhelming. How can I pick just one? What if I pick the wrong one? Too much choice was almost as paralyzing as having no choice. I was once again stressed, but it was worth it.
Thankfully, the contest offered the option of sending out a poll and letting the public vote. After whittling down the list to a few favorites, I asked, and a number of you answered. I am now extremely pleased to present the winner and new cover of An Uncertain Faith!
Cover by Danny Design Studio, Photography by Dave and Les Jacobs.