When I started my self-publishing journey in 2016, I had much to learn. I did things that, in hindsight, I wish I’d done differently. But publishing was the process that taught me what I needed to know. Without doing, I wouldn’t have discovered my gaps in knowledge. If we courageously take the first step, doing is the best way to learn. And I'm still learning every day!
Most independent authors don’t have a lot of money. Money is necessary for self-publishing. Producing a book involves lots of steps, and some of them you can’t—or shouldn’t—do yourself. These steps cost money. Editors don’t work for free. Neither do formatters. Neither do artists.
Art isn’t cheap. While I was drafting my first titles, I communicated with several authors who had purchased custom cover art for their books—paying $800–$1500 for the privilege. Their covers were stunning, but my household budget didn’t have that leeway for one book cover, never mind ten!
Once ready to unleash Dragon’s Fire, I was delighted to learn that Amazon offered free covers. My glee faded when I saw how limited my choices were, particularly for the paperback, but I picked one from the selection and crowned Dragon’s Fire with it.
There’s a certain element of a dragon’s eye in that cover. The blue matches Caledon’s national color. It worked.
However, between publishing Dragon’s Fire and completing The Rose of Caledon, I discovered pre-made cover art. And what a discovery! It’s not free, but it was far more affordable than I had expected. I purchased a cover for Rose and contemplated how different my two titles looked. The artwork gave Rose a dramatic boost that Fire lacked.
So I picked out a pre-made cover for Dragon’s Fire and gave the book a much-needed facelift. I only sold about 50 copies with the blue cover, so I now refer to them as collector’s editions—otherwise known as Testaments to What I Did Not Know.
Cover shopping became my favorite sport. As each title followed the previous one, I delighted in scouring my favorite website for a suitable cover, though finding the perfect one wasn’t always easy. Myrhiadh’s War was particularly difficult, since few artists depict female archers wearing much more than bikinis. Shoving aside the obvious impracticality of going to war in a bikini, Myrhiadh was Zandorian, and showing skin beyond her face and hands was taboo. At last, I found a cover bearing a fully clothed female archer, and I grabbed it.
I continued finding covers for each title. Browsing the cover website and discovering a character is satisfying. Guardians’ cover was a breathtaking moment where Marcus waved his sword at me and said, “Hi.” Mystic’s cover appeared after I had missed out on a different one (someone else snapped it up.) The one I bought for Mystic is better than the one I lost.
I bought the cover for Ten three years ago from an artist I follow online. This pre-made cover was the most expensive I had yet purchased. I hadn’t started the book, but the images were perfect, and I have no regrets. I’ve struggled to keep the art a secret for so long, and I’m looking forward to finally sharing it with my readers! (Ten’s cover will appear in the back of Book Nine when it’s published—so only readers get to see the advance cover/title reveal!)
So here we are, with only Book Nine still needing a cover. I’m checking my favorite website daily to discover new covers as soon as they’re posted. Something needs to scream “Buy Me!” but so far, no luck.
The story specifics leave little room for flexibility. A Zandorian heroine rules out any character showing skin or wearing brilliant colors. The male and female lead in Nine have a platonic relationship; covers that show two characters are usually romantic. The heroine’s specialty is unusual. She’s pretty, but not glamorous. She’s well-off, but not nobility. These factors make me scroll past hundreds of covers, saying, “Nope. Not right. Doesn’t fit. It’s just not her.”
I’ll find her. Eventually. But this cover is the first for which I have contemplated purchasing custom art. I’ve even asked some artists I’ve bought from before for quotes.
The lack of a cover might delay the release of Book Nine; however, I will continue my diligent daily searching, and as the editing progresses and the hazy launch date looms, I may pursue custom art. The cover must fit the story and the rest of the series.
Book covers. Nine out of ten are ready. One to go!
Check out my interview with blogger Fiona Mcvie! https://wp.me/p3uv2y-75n