Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Creating a Book Cover: An Indie Writer's Challenge

With most of the 30 books that my husband and I have written, creating a book cover is the last thing we do.  Before then, we're concentrating on plot, characters, and location.  I know they say, "You Can't Judge A Book by its Cover"; but, unfortunately, the design you pick could make or break your book.  We don't have the $200.00 to go out and pay a professional to create a cover.  Luckily, my husband is a computer guy, and he has come up with some good covers in the past. 

Here's a good example of some of the problems we've gone through when deciding on a book cover. Our book, "The Body on Ortega Highway," is a sequel to our best seller, "Honeymoon in Savannah." It's the last book in the four-book series entitled "The Detective Santy Mysteries."  Unfortunately, this book has sold the least copies.  It has an interesting premise: our homicide detective is the chief investigator in case of the "Hillside Chopper", and in the course of the investigation, she realizes that, not only does she know the killer, she used to be in love with him.  How much danger is she willing to put herself through in order to capture him?  It's based on real events.

It's a psychological thriller about sexual obsession that explores the conflict the killer is going through, so I thought we'd put him on the cover.  Here's our first attempt:

This cover is one of the free images from which writers can choose that are available from Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing Cover Creator. This site also has several templates and color schemes to choose from when placing your title and author name on your cover photo. It's free, so check it out: there are several photos from which to choose.  My husband didn't care for this picture, so we decided that, instead of the guy, we'd focus on the victim.  We wanted to show the perils of teenage girls hitchhiking, which was what the first victim was doing when she was picked up and killed.  One of my favorite pictures of my Mom and her sister has them posing as hitchhikers; so, we used it as our mystery's cover. Then, we thought that it looked too much like the forties instead of the present time.  We decided that it was too whimsical for the subject matter of the book. 

 So, our next attempt at creating a cover was a picture of me actually going out on Ortega Highway and hitchhiking.

I didn't want my face to be recognizable, so I darkened it so much that you can't even tell I'm hitchhiking.  My husband and I sure got some funny looks that day as he was photographing me doing this.

The cover photo that is shown on the top of this post is the current one.  What do you think?  Our book costs only 99 cents.  It's available at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and Scribd.

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