The Story of a Cover by Lynne Garner
I've had over 20 books traditionally published, so when I decided earlier this year to self-publish some of my books as eBooks, it came as a bit of a shock and an enjoyable challenge to take on tasks I'd not had to do before. One of these tasks was to design the front covers of my planned eBooks. As with my previous book (Anansi The Trickster Spider) I decided to create the cover for 'Maras and the Fairy Rings' using one of my own photographs. This meant I had the exact image I wanted. It also dealt with any copyright issues I might have had if I'd used an image created by another photographer. It also greatly reduced costs.
Knowing what I wanted I planned the steps I needed to take. The first was to collect sticks from the back garden, rummage through drawers for a ball of string, cut the sticks to size and create a fairy wand. The trickiest step was creating the star however the wrapping of the string was very therapeutic.
The next step was to wait for a day when the ground would be covered in dry autumn leaves. When that day arrived the dog and I enjoyed a wander over to the local playing field, where I gathered a handful of red and yellow leaves. Next I set up my scene in the kitchen and used the sun as my light source. I sprinkled with a little silver glitter and took a number of images, slightly altering the angle, re-arranging the leaves etc.
Once I'd taken enough photographs to provide a good choice I uploaded and started to 'play' in Photoshop. A few hours later I had a dozen or so versions, one of which is shown below:
Believing my work was done I took the dog for a walk. Whilst out I was delighted to find the local playing field littered with mushrooms, many in the typical circle formation of a fairy ring. So out came the camera and another play on Photoshop and another selection of covers was born.
A few days later I started to have a re-think, so pulled out my pencils and started to draw a selection of cartoons. I chose one, scanned it in, rendered in Photoshop, added text and finally I had a cover I was willing to release onto the world.
So that is the story of my cover for Maras and the Fairy Rings.
Now I'm thinking about the cover for my next book which is about photography, loss of a loved one and time travel.
Thanks for honestly sharing the process of getting your cover right! I think covers are really, really important - as you obviously do - as do publishers, otherwise they wouldn't waste so much time and money trying to get them right. They also wouldn't make 'fancy' hard covers to help them compete against e-books. And they certainly wouldn’t undertake redesigns to make the paperback and mass market editions of a book have wider commercial appeal than the hardcovers. (I know I make snap judgements about books after a passing glances at the covers. For example I hate brown covers covers, for no real reason, and nearly missed out on The Book Thief because of this.)
It didn't surprise me, therefore, that you changed your design idea over and over again in the process of trying to get the cover just right. However, I am a little curious to know the reasoning behind ditching the photo covers in favour of the final 'cartoon' design (which is also my favourite!). Was it because you could suggest more with the cartoon than with the touched up 'photos'? Or do you think 'cartoon covers' will always be more appealing to children than photo based covers?
Good luck with the next one and thanks!!