My Books, Writing

A Book Cover Designing Problem

If you design your own book cover, you may encounter many problems. Being too close to the story is one of those. If you’re too emotionally involved, you might not be able to envision the best cover design. I know. I didn’t initially design the best cover for my novel An Illusion of Trust. (See the ebook cover in detail and the full print cover here.)

An Illusion of TrustBut today I’m proud to show you the beautiful new cover. Even though I designed it, I can say it’s beautiful without feeling immodest because the photo I chose did most of the heavy lifting.

I found that photo at a stock photo site a year before I published An Illusion of Trust. One look took my breath away because, to me, it portrayed the sweet beauty and fragility of Renee, the book’s main character. I stored the comp image on my computer, planning to buy the real thing when it came time to design the cover.

Fast forward six months. I’d finished writing and editing the manuscript and sent it to my beta readers. This time I hadn’t had the benefit of running the manuscript through a critique group, so I was unusually anxious as I hit that send button. And when the betas returned their feedback, it became obvious not every reader would be as sympathetic toward Renee as I’d hoped.

As I went through more rounds of revision > beta > revision, I also worked on designing the cover. But feeling that I’d written a darker story than intended, I designed a dreary cover. Every day after that, I looked at that cover and hated it. So a couple of months after publication, I changed it a bit. I hated the cover a little less, but it still depressed me. Even when it was nominated for an award.


I didn’t want to promote the book.  I hated to even think about it. A few times, I decided to unpublish it. But each of those times, a positive review or private message changed my mind. When a reader tells you how much they identified with Renee, or that her story made them cry, or that they stayed up way past their bedtime to finish reading, then you know you wrote a book that deserves to be published.

And if it deserves to be published, it deserves the best cover you can provide.  Now, I’ve done that. And I’m finally smiling.


Doubt, My Books, Writing

To know my own mind

I’ve said many times that I hate making decisions. I blame it on having a Libra sun sign—you know, that being able to see both sides thing? Of course, the real cause of indecision is fear. I fear making the WRONG choice. And the basis of that fear is vanity, but let’s not go into that today.

My current indecisiveness concerns the cover for my next novel. I have two of them, now. I like each for different reasons. I’ve curbed what I usually do in these situations—seek a zillion other opinions. I’ve only sought two opinions for the first cover and one, so far, for the second.

I’d like to just go with my gut, but my gut doesn’t have the eye of an experienced designer. Then again, I don’t always think the covers on some best-sellers from the big New York publishers are all that hot. See those scales tipping this way and that?

These cover choices will soon be followed by choices in editing when I receive notes from my beta readers. I’ll have to decide whether to follow or ignore each of their suggestions. Some of those decisions will be no-brainers, but others will twist my brain in knots.

My goal for this book was to be more self-reliant, to trust my gut more. To know my own mind. And I do, but I still don’t trust it enough. The need for approval is crippling, isn’t it? Do you struggle with that?

Marketing, My Books, Writing

A new bloom on an old rose

Those of you who read my blog only in a reader or by email, will have to come online to see the preview of my brand new luscious book cover for The Brevity of Roses. In about a week, when I approve the new cover for print and ebook distribution, I’ll change the cover image here and other places online. For now, you can only view it in, and from, this post.

Michelle Davidson Argyle is the designer of my gorgeous new cover. She’s the author of Cinders, Monarch, and True Colors, and has a new novel coming out in May. She’s also a professional photographer. As I said in a previous post, I was already primed when she suggested Brevity would sell better with a new cover, I just hadn’t decided what to do about it. She offered a solution, and I couldn’t be happier I took her up on it.

As we discussed in the comments of my previous post, a book cover is usually the first thing you see, so it has a big job to do. When viewed online, where my book is sold exclusively, the cover needs to not only catch your eye, but tell you the genre and tone. In the span of one glance, it has to shout, “Hey, this is the book you’re looking for. Check it out.”

The word that comes to mind when I see this cover is tender. I love that because Brevity is a tender love story. I have to tell you, I never thought I’d allow pink on the cover, but after trying other font colors, it was clear that pink added the perfect pop. This cover tells me the story inside is everything these new back cover blurbs say it is.

Told in gorgeous, poetic tones, The Brevity of Roses will take you on a journey delving into three unique characters as delicate and beautiful as a rose itself. Lewis’ rich understanding of relationships is phenomenal.”  – Michelle Davidson Argyle, author of Monarch

“Grief, discovery, anguish, pleasure, rejection, acceptance, atonement, forgiveness—the rhythmic odes of marriage, friendship, family. A fine debut novel that reaches deep into a poet’s beating heart, lays it open, vulnerable to the bitter betrayals, and the joyful loyalties, of this thing we call Love.” – Kathryn Magendie, author of “the Graces Sagas,” Sweetie and Petey, publishing editor of Rose & Thorn.

Please do Michelle and I the honor of clicking on these images to see larger versions:



Books, Marketing, My Books, Novel, Publish

Do you judge a book by its cover?

We’re told not to judge a book by its cover. Then again, we’re told how important first impressions are. Hmmm. Well, when I scroll through a list of books online, it’s their covers that make a first impression, and I do judge them. If a cover is not well designed, or doesn’t fit the tone or genre of the book, it’s not the best cover for that book.

Do you see that book cover there on the right? It’s about to change, which I guess makes that cover a collector’s item. I designed that cover with my own artwork. It’s not horrid, but it really only makes sense after you read the book. In that sense, it’s a fail. It also doesn’t make the genre clear. Fail. I did the best I could, but I didn’t really understand the job a book cover plays in selling the book.

This is not just my opinion. Four graphic designers told me the same thing. One of those designers is also a friend, and she offered to help. She doesn’t design full time—she’s also an author—but I’d seen covers she designed for herself and others and thought they were all beautiful, so I said, “Heck yeah!”

I’d never worked with a designer before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I confess I’m not always easy to work with. I’m a perfectionist. I worried about how much I might bug her with my nitpicking, but so far we’re still friends. 🙂 Now we’re down to the fine-tuning, and I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.

The new cover is GORGEOUS!!! She took the two stock photos I selected, added another, and created a cover beyond my dreams. I can’t wait to share it with you.

So tell me:  When you’re faced with a screen filled with small cover images of books you know nothing about, do you judge those books by their covers, or do you read the description of each one?

Author, Books, Fiction, Marketing, My Books, Novel, Promotion, Publish, Writing

There’s absurd, and then there’s ABSURD!


I saw this photo on Facebook today and the absurdity of a pig in tiny red boots gave me a much needed laugh. I feel a bit like this right now. Absurd. (I’m ignoring the plump pig part.)

The boots won’t help me now though. I’m at least waist deep in self-publishing. Some days, I’m positive I’m in over my head. I know now that writing and polishing the novel was the easy part. I’ve had to be talked in off the ledge a few times already, and I haven’t even started the e-book conversion.

If you’ve been thinking of self-publishing, don’t let my moaning discourage you. My biggest problem is trying to do this as cheaply as possible. I’m sure I’ve used up all my favors from friends. I used my artistic talent and fledgling graphics skills to create my own book cover. I hunkered down with dozens of examples from my shelves and taught myself how to format the interior for the print version.

So, The Brevity of Roses will be published soon. And then, the real absurdity begins. I will have to market the book. I’ve read tons on the subject. I’ve picked the brain of suburban noir author Cathryn Grant so much, I’m surprised she’s not reduced to vacant-eyed drooling.

I still have no idea what I’m going to do.

It’s likely my book will launch with a whimper. I’ll try not to become a harpy crying, “Buy my book!” in every blog post, status update, or tweet. I have a feeling that in a few weeks I’ll blog about how marketing with no budget was as absurd as a pig in red boots.

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