Guest blog: John Greaves III

One of my authors, John Greaves III, offered to do a guest blog for me while I am recovering.  (Thank you, John!)  He asked that I also include links to the Amazon sales pages for his two published books, which I am glad to do to support him in his efforts.  The first book is A Little Lesson in Manners and the second is A Different Kind of Giant.  His topic for this blog is how he found an illustrator for his book cover, and I am including his illustrator’s web link in my list of useful links in the sidebar of my page for anyone who might be interested.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Now that I’ve got my clichéd opener out of the way, I can tell you that I flat out hated the process of finding a designer for my book covers. It was a nerve wracking process because of how critical the cover is to your success or failure.

Keep in mind that your cover must be eye catching at a small size. What might look great as a full size pic might look like a jumbled up mess as a thumbnail. If you are able to get the physical version of your book onto store shelves, it might not be placed full front but spine out. That means a potential customer/reader is scanning shelves filled with tons of books jammed together and yours has to stand out enough to make them slide it out and look at the back.

So in an effort to find someone who could best support my vision, I looked on deviant art for cover designers, I searched LinkedIn, I checked author centric blogs and sites, I talked to art students, I asked at book stores. I also asked other first time authors for their recommendations. Out of all of these, only two approaches worked well for me.

I looked at book covers I liked, in the genre in which I wrote my stories and I used Amazon’s search inside this book feature to find out who designed the cover.

I searched book cover awards lists to see who won consistently. I wasn’t interested in the flash in the pan, one hit wonders (wow more clichés). I wanted someone who could create a cover that fit my vision and invited people to stop and look at the book.

I cross referenced the results from the above two search methods and contacted those whose names appeared on both lists. I told you it was time consuming.

After selecting cover designers, my journey was far from over.  First, I had a couple of designers cancel on me due to scheduling conflicts. I had one guy agree to send me some samples but he apparently was only a part time cover designer, his full time job was for the United States military. He told me he was going on duty and would get back to me and I’ve not heard from him since 2012.

Furthermore, I won’t use a cover designer who won’t read at least a portion of my book. So I disqualified a few of those who responded to my emails. I don’t see how you can create something that captures the essence of something you’ve no experience in. Could you imagine drawing a picture of Batman if you’ve never read the comic, saw a movie or watched a television show? Me either.

I also don’t want anyone who insists on just using the same images that grace the covers of a hundred other books in the genre. I’m not against the concept of the premade cover; I just want the option of something different.

Each time I hit a hurdle, I returned to my strategy. I looked at the best-selling covers in my genre, looked inside them, checked the designer’s track record, visited their website and reached out to them.

I can tell you that it was worth it. I can look at the covers of my books with pride that my name is associated with these products and that in itself is a victory.

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