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.


9 thoughts on “The Challenge of Book Covers

  1. JP McLean

    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. marylin warner

    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

  3. Bryan

    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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