By Sally Carpenter
Obtaining a cover for one’s book is, to me, a signpost that the novel is close to completion. After months of seemingly endless revisions and toiling alone, it’s a thrill to finally turn in the manuscript and get feedback from other reader. The cover is my “reward” for completion. It’s also a challenge. How does one sum up a 240-page book with one page of visuals?
For my new book, “The Quirky Quiz Show Caper,” CCP publisher Patricia Rockwell already had a designer in hand so I didn’t need to find an artist. I had an idea for the cover but upon seeing the first mockups, that concept didn’t work. The design elements didn’t resemble what I had in mind, and nothing about the cover indicated “mystery.” I did, however, like the circle with the ring of lights and decided to keep that item.
Fortunately the designer was willing to make changes, so I asked to remove two of the design elements and replace them with (spoiler alert!) a dagger and a TV camera. A cover should only have one or two strong elements because when the image is shrunk for a webpage, too many pieces turn into blurs.
So in the next set of mockups, the knife looked great. However, the TV camera was a modern day digital camera. My story is set in 1993 when film and videotape were still in use! A quick replacement with a vintage camera fixed that problem.
The previous three covers in this series, all done by different designers, used musical notes or instruments, as my hero is was a famous pop star. However, on seeing the final mockup, adding notes or any other pieces would clutter the page and cover the spotlights in the background. I didn’t ask for the spotlights but I like them once I saw them. So between my ideas and what the designer added, we came up with a nifty cover.
CCP authors are given input into their covers and I appreciate that. I’ve heard authors with other publishers who complain that their covers misrepresent their story. I like the bright colors on my cover, which say “cozy” but the knife definitely says “murder!”
Now as to what a TV camera and a knife have to do with the story—you’ll have to read the book to find out!