I think I’m safe in saying that every writer feels a special sense of excitement when it’s time to start picking out the illustrations to be used to express the feeling and story of your book.
There’s an excitement as you’re writing. You keep the little things in the back your mind; this scene would look good, or, that character needs to be enhanced on the cover. Throughout the writing process your mind is constantly thinking of what is going to look good enough to catch a reader’s eye and hopefully get them to buy your book. Which phrase was catchy enough in the book to be used in your promotional blurb prompting someone to open the book up and read your words? If you’re writing a series, what is going to make the series look unique, but let each book have a distinctive cover?
For me, I knew exactly which scene in all of my books I was going to use on the cover. There was just something that popped up and said “this is it!” Even before all the words were written, I knew on all three books what was going to be on the cover of my book. Now, not at all writers follow that process. Many of them pick multiple scenes and create multiple covers before deciding on the one that they really want. They get feedback from other writers and friends on what looks the best. To a certain point, so do I, but I’ve followed my natural instinct more than I do anything else. If it speaks to me, then I hope it’s going to speak to others.
I’m also realistic, and I know my limitations. I’m not an artist, and even though I love to take pictures, I’m not a photographer. This is when I call in the professionals. I picked out the scene, I have a vague idea of what I want to accomplish on my cover and then I turn it over to my illustrator. As a writer, it’s good to know your limitations and talents. If you are a writer that is multiply talented and can write and draw than you are in a league of your own. For the rest of us, we are writers. So, it’s only common sense to delegate something so important to a professional.
Also, there’s nothing wrong with going back sometime in the future and redoing your covers, updating them or giving them a new look. This is especially important if you’re writing a series. Times change and your whole attitude and outlook on the series may differ from when you originally started. I know after just three books that there are a couple of things I’d like to change on my very first cover. But I’ll wait until I get three or four books ready to be sold as a set, and then I’ll do a complete cover change. By keeping the parts I really like and changing the things that need a bit of tweaking, I will be able to keep the look of my books fresh. Of course if you your book is one that will withstand the test of time, and be easily recognized for years, then don’t touch a thing.
And while we’re talking about covers – don’t forget your title must show up on the cover and grab the reader’s eye. Your name is just as important – because if they don’t remember you, then readers are not going to be looking for your next book.
The point I’m trying to make is that your cover is an exciting part of your book. It should be given just as much care and consideration as the words that you put on the pages.