The Challenge of Book Covers

When I was writing A Cry From The Deep, I never gave any thought to a book cover. That’s not unreasonable given that I had to write the novel first. Mine took longer than most because I chose to write about subjects that I didn’t know much about. Also, since I had fully expected to go the traditional route of finding an agent for it, and then a publisher, I figured the publisher would come up with a cover when the time came. I never thought I’d have to figure one out for myself.

So, after realizing I was better off self-publishing, I began to seriously look at what constituted a winning book cover. I looked at bestsellers—mostly romances, since mine is a romantic mystery. I also watched A TED presentation of designing book covers. And I recalled what I’d learned from one episode of the TV series A Work of Art, where artists had to design a cover appealing to readers. It couldn’t be too busy; it had to give some sense of what the book was about; and it had to be eye-catching. You’d think after all that study, choosing a cover would be easy, but it wasn’t.

As my protagonist, Catherine Fitzgerald, is an underwater photographer who is bothered by a spirit underwater, I knew I wanted water on my cover.



I gave my short synopsis to Jun Ares, a book cover designer, whose work I’d admired. He had designed some wonderful covers for my friends, author Martin Crosbie and author, Karen Dodd.

Ares came back with two images, both of which I liked. A great start, I thought.

I showed them to my family and friends and found that each cover had its supporters; in fact, the likes were evenly divided between the two.

That was fine, but their comments concerned me.Some said, the woman on the shore looked like a Harlequin novel, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but my book wasn’t that type.



And the other image, of a contorted woman underwater, suggested a murder had taken place – wrong again.

When my filmmaker grandson suggested finding an image that would fit my story better, I did a search and found one I love on a photo site.

It’s perfect, as the spirit in my story has red hair, and is beckoning, much as she does in my novel.  I bought the photo and sent it to Ares, who had the brilliant idea of adding the Claddagh wedding ring which figures largely in my story. So, I’m a happy camper. Whether it appeals to readers or not, it’s too early to tell, as A Cry From The Deep won’t be available until fall. I’ll show you the one I’ve chosen the next time I post.

Even though it’s been said (by  author, George Eliot, in 1860), “don’t judge a book by its cover,” most of us do, as a cover gives some hint about what’s inside.

As an author, have you been happy with your cover(s)? If not, are you thinking of getting a different one? Some authors have printed two different versions, just to ensure a wider readership. And as a reader, how much does a book cover influence your book buying decision? I’d love your thoughts, so please leave a comment.


About Diana Stevan

Stayed a writer through all my incarnations - teacher, social worker, model and actress. Writing is my bliss and is infused with pieces of my life that I can't help but put in my stories and blog. When I'm not writing, I'm busy hanging out with my husband, traveling, and trying to be a good mother and grandmother.
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9 Responses to The Challenge of Book Covers

  1. JP McLean says:

    Book covers are incredibly important. It’s an author’s foot in the door if it’s done well. I can’t wait to see your final selection. The Claddagh wedding ring is a very nice touch and I think the font you’ve used is perfect.

  2. Karen Dodd says:

    A big bonjourno from Venice, Diana! I loved reading about your decision-making process for your cover, most particularly how you purchased your ideal photo and had the very talented Ares Jun work with it. As I have had the great privilege of reading your manuscript, I eagerly await the unveiling of your cover for A Cry From the Deep!

    ~ Karen
    Karen Dodd recently posted…Your Author Platform: Building the Plane While Flying ItMy Profile

  3. Both covers are interesting. Both do emote. But I can’t wait to see what you’ve decided upon.

  4. Diana Stevan says:

    I had a tough time deciding as I liked both these covers, too. They could work, but I rejected them (for now) . Thanks for your thoughts.
    Diana Stevan recently posted…The Challenge of Book CoversMy Profile

  5. Of the two you posted here, I would vote for the second. I didn’t see it as evoking a murder or drowning…but a search. I thought it was quite appealing.
    Now I’m very eager to see the one you did choose!
    marylin warner recently posted…SERENDIPITYMy Profile

  6. Diana Stevan says:

    I agree, Marylin. It’s the one I favoured, but since I had some comments that suggested this one could be misleading, I decided to keep looking for a more fitting cover.
    Diana Stevan recently posted…The Challenge of Book CoversMy Profile

  7. Bryan says:

    Diana – Congrats on the final choice for the cover: a truly awesome, eye-catching design! I eagerly await the publication of A Cry from the Deep.
    Your post is timely for me as my new novel, the text anyway, is more or less finished. Now the interesting part – the cover. Control freak or no, I design my own covers and want to get this one right, and agree with JP that covers are incredibly important. I find the cover design part actually more fun than writing a novel (don’t tell anyone :-)), if time-consuming.
    Bryan recently posted…‘That’s so cute’My Profile

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