Monday, October 10, 2011

Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover… Unless it ROCKS!

I toiled for many a night trying to think about the perfect image that would grace the cover of Agent M: Project Mabus.  The old saying listed in my title should have told me to know better but as someone with a Master’s degree in Marketing, it’s not that simple. An independent author makes their first impressions with a uniquely designed and bold cover.  As thousands upon thousands of visitors to Amazon’s Kindle site peruse the various choices, I’ll only have one shot to capture their attention.

There were plenty of suggestions being thrown my way as far as book cover artist were concerned.  After viewing a number of these highly qualified and talented individuals I never felt the spark from their work that would bring the Agent M series to life.  We’re not talking about a few slaps of paint, maybe some techno images dancing on the front.  This is the beginning of the end!  The cover has to not only prepare people for it but also let them know where they will be journeying along the way.

In my quest to find the perfect cover, I have enlisted the help of the great fantasy artist David Sondered.  His works can be seen in the books of great wargaming companies such as Fantasy Flight Games and Faction Wars.  I found him via the popular wargaming forum Dakka Dakka and knew this would be the man that will create the perfect cover for my book.

Perfection, on the other hand, does not come cheap.  I fully expected to pay a king’s ransom (for an indie author’s salary anyways) to commission an illustration from David.  What I was quoted came in much lower than I imagined.  I completely jumped at the offer at that point.  David is a phenomenal artist that I fully believe will do my characters justice on the front cover.  We spent weeks discussing the integral design, shape, and overall look of the cover itself.  He is just amazing to work with and will gladly adhere and go with any and all details you submit.  The mark of a true professional.

Just this morning I received a handful of sketches he submitted.  Some were right on point and others he used some artistic leeway on.  I have to admit, at first, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted.  After seeing some of these sketches, I am currently in a state of conflict.  The choice is made even more difficult coupled by what is at stake.  Some authors have the luxury of selling their books just by name only.  Others might be referenced from friends and/or family.  An indie author has everything riding on that front cover in the hopes that someone will just give it a click and inquire further.

I trust that David will do a fantastic job.  His previous work stands on its own.  The rest is all up to me.  I can’t take this for granted.  Some authors don’t even get this far.  My book is just months away from hitting store shelves.  After everything I’ve given up to make it here, I won’t be defeated by a marketing decision.  Even as doubt rears its ugly head, I’m still confident that my story is good enough to sit on store shelves with some of the big boys.  Their covers don’t need to make an impact to sell the story.  Mine has everything riding on it hoping that someone out there is willing to give it a chance.

The risk is great but the rewards make it more than worth it.  Will Agent M: Project Mabus be a successful novel?  I can’t predict the future but I know for certain the cover will turn plenty of heads.  That’s one advantage I have over my fellow indie writers.  I know how to attract attention.  Some writers rely on the help of their publishers to do so.  My advantage comes from a solid education.  While the cover may not be enough to sell the book outright, it may steal a few more glances than normal.  And if only one of those extra clicks purchases my book then it would have made all of the effort worth it.


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