The cover design process is one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking parts of publishing a book. A great cover helps sell your book to readers, but it also needs to convey the story and tone in the right way (so those readers know what they’re getting). And take note, aspiring authors: the publisher gets the final say. Yes, the writer is consulted, and their suggestions are taken into account (to varying extents), but you don’t always get what you want.
I just went through all that with my upcoming book, ON A COLD DARK SEA. The publisher sent me three possibilities, based on a questionnaire I’d filled out about the book and other covers I liked. Then my editor and I began a long series of emails, as I gave my critiques, and she sent them on to the designer, and then the designer sent new versions, and I gave new critiques, and the marketing team gave their input, etc. etc. The whole process took about two months.
I nixed one of the three contenders pretty early on, but that left two that were equally good. Both showed female figures on a boat, but one was close-up and moody, while the other was more pulled-back and brighter. I honestly could not decide which one was better. So I started polling friends and fellow writers….who annoyingly voted 50/50. Each version had an equal number of pros and cons.
In the end, there were just slightly more cons to the lighter, brighter version, and while they could have probably been fixed with a whole lot of Photoshop, my editor and I mutually decided we were done. We had one cover that didn’t need any further work, and that we were both happy with. And while I get a kick out of sorting through multiple possible visions for a book, it’s also a relief to have the whole thing finished.
Now I just have to wait six months for ON A COLD DARK SEA to actually be published! (Seems like an awfully long time….)