Last Friday at Southern Exposure I posted the original covers of my novels Once More With Feeling and Twice Upon A Time, and showed the way the eBook cover for Twice Upon A Time grew from stock photography to finished product.
Twice Upon A Time was the easiest. I immediately found several photographs I liked, including one of a pregnant woman holding a sunflower over her swollen belly. It might well have been a good fit, but there were two problems. One, it didn’t suggest the hard-won “victory” of Mary Kate’s new life. The second problem would have been harder. We wanted two photos that were connected, at least in composition. Finding a photo with a segment of a woman’s body (to mirror the pregnant belly) that said anything important and was also visually intriguing? Very difficult.
After we chose the photograph for Twice, we started a search for a photo with similarities for Once. One, we wanted a woman with her back turned, the way Mary Kate’s turned away. Two, instead of a sunflower field, we needed a city view. In Once More With Feeling, the heroine finds herself living the life of a sexy news anchor she has admired, even envied. She leaves behind her mid-life crisis, and the upper-class Long Island existence that revolves around her famous architect husband, and plummets into the world of tabloid television news. Of course, “leaves behind” isn’t quite true–but you have to read the book to see how that unfolds.
After serious searching, we found this photo. It was “on sale,” though still quite expensive, and I grabbed it so we wouldn’t lose it. Then the problems began. The woman isn’t dressed stylishly enough, and she’s not the seductress that Gypsy Dugan, my news anchor is. Plus the more we looked at the photo, the less it suggested Manhattan and the more a city in Eastern Europe. Nothing Tina could do to it gave us the feeling we wanted.
Goodbye photograph, hello lesson on not jumping at sales.
Next we found this one. The woman looks to be the right age. Her hair’s dark and the way she’s holding it off her neck is interesting, and seductive. But the scene? Nothing interesting or arresting about it. Tina promised that wasn’t a problem. Find a Manhattan skyline scene I liked and we’d combine the two. I showed our first take to my friend author Diane Chamberlain who thought our model was scratching her head. Yes, indeed, the finger does look as if she’s digging it into her scalp. Yikes! Tina said, no problem, she could fix this, as well, and she did.
We found the perfect sunset skyline scene only to discover that it, like the rejected initial idea, was extremely expensive. We found another that was more reasonable, and the result was just as pleasing. Tina worked her magic with fonts and editing and the new Once More With Feeling was ready for publication.
We’ve learned a lot in the process. For one thing night covers are difficult to see once they’ve been “shrunk” to the size of an Amazon or Barnes and Noble thumbnail. While the cover of Once More With Feeling perfectly captures the story, and looks wonderful full size, the smallest versions blur. Of course, all along the way, my patient, forbearing daughter-in-law pitched in, made changes without complaining and suggestions with tact and style. I was supremely lucky to have her talents at my disposal as well as those of Ted at Dellaster Design, who formatted the books for the Nook and the Kindle.
Who knew becoming my own publisher would turn out to be such a challenge? After all this? Now Tina and I are in the process of redesigning the cover for Once More with Feeling because, despite being the first of the two books, it’s not selling as well. I asked my Facebook readers to give their opinion, and the majority felt a cheerier cover was in order.
Back to the “drawing” board.
But this is one of the beauties of eBooks. I can try new things because a new cover is easy to add. I can take your comments into consideration and watch sales dwindle or grow. So I’ve just found a new photo I love, which works for the book but has the brighter, happier feel of the Twice Upon A Time cover. Tina loves it, too–and she hasn’t even tried to divorce me. Can you divorce a mother-in-law?
Stay tuned. . . I’ll post the new cover just as soon as we’re satisfied.