I’ve definitely gotten a lot of, let’s call them, not-so-great comments about my book covers over the years, so I decided to tell you all about my journey with covers to give a little glimpse into what it’s like trying to write a book and find the perfect cover for it.
We’ll go back in time - not like Carter & Ryder from Future Wife, but back to when my wife first convinced me to publish. She’d just moved to the US, and the income from my day job was taking care of both of us. We’d moved from one apartment to another so that I could get a different job, and to be honest with you, we didn’t have a ton of money. Back then, we used some of what we had to hire an editor (that didn’t work out) to try to get my book re-reviewed by a publisher (who still said no, but nicely), and she needed to get a green card, social security number, and everything else before anyone would hire her. So, when she came up with the idea of publishing my books, I told her to go for it, as you all know, but we couldn’t exactly afford a cover designer, and you need a cover before you can publish a book.
I went online, found a stock photo, and actually used Pages on my Mac to lay things out with a font using a template that Amazon provides you to get the sizing right. I did this myself for several books because neither of us had specific graphic-design or cover-design experience, but publishing as much as we were and with me working full-time and writing, I didn’t have time to keep doing that, so she began to learn some things, and we got Adobe and started building them there.
I’ll admit, some of my early covers aren’t great. We did the best we could. I have things I like to see on covers. My wife has things she likes to see on covers. We were concerned pretty early on about licensing because, even though we’d acquired photos legally with a license, there’s still always a chance someone could come for you and say you owe them money for images. This was happening a lot back then, so we did things to alter the images a little to prevent this because… yeah, we were a little scared. We couldn’t afford a legal issue of any kind.
My wife continued to learn, got better with Photoshop and cover design over the years, and started to put out better covers. Also, for the past year or two, the trend in covers has been animation, but neither of us can do that, and while things are a little better for us now, we didn’t feel some of my books should have animated covers. We did try to find a designer (who didn’t work out for us), but ultimately, my wife’s skills have improved, as has our communication over what we want to see on the cover, so she continues to design. I continue to try to help and approve.
They’re not all “bangers,” and I know that, but what I would say to people who tear them down (especially the early ones) is this: I get it. They’re not all winners. But when you’re an indie author who’s just starting out or, even, has been doing it for a bit, there are still circumstances in life that might prevent you from being able to afford to do everything you’d like to be able to do with your books. In my case, initially, it was taking care of my wife and I while she acclimated to a new country. In another author’s situation, it could be something else entirely. We’re all just doing the best we can and trying to get better as we go, so please try to keep that in mind. Even if we try to not see the comments, they sometimes have a way of finding us without our permission (people tagging authors in negative reviews, etc.).
In the spirit of constant growth, though, I’m happy to announce that the wife and I went back through some of my old covers and made some updates. Yes, we’re still designing them ourselves, but we’re genuinely proud of the new versions, trying to keep up with some trends but not going with every trend just because it’s a trend when we don’t feel that it fits the book.
Not all older books are getting new covers because some of them we really like and don’t plan on changing, but for now, you’ll see new - or, at least, altered - covers for the following books on Amazon:
The e-book versions for all titles listed above are already available. Paperbacks will follow in the next few weeks (a few months for some, as the new releases schedule allows us), and at least all of the Chicago Series books should have hardcover versions this year.
My hope here isn’t that you see the new covers and think, “best cover ever,” but more that you can see that we’re learning new things in both how I write books and how we design these covers, hoping to attract people to those books because as much as we all say, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” we all do in some way, right?
I hope you like the updated covers!