This decision didn’t happen in a void. You might actually want to start reading about the [original prototype covers for It Began with a Dream] since that blog post goes into detail about what led into this decision. I’d rather use this post to go into the actual process of redesigning my old covers.
Once I decided to redesign them, I had to figure out how to go about it. The easiest way to do it was to find a cover artist. I reached out to a couple of options I found online (mostly via other author’s social media or blog posts). I also debated using [Vistaprint]’s cover design option since I’d have more designs to choose from. Ultimately, I decided against Vistaprint due to the cost factor. (I have a limited budget.)
I was in contact with Vistaprint via email. They gave me the option of working directly with the same artist for later projects (i.e. the other covers). That was actually something I’d decided to look for from the start: the ability to use the same artist. It’s an easy way to get a similar (for lack of a better wording) design throughline between my books. The artist would be familiar with earlier designs (for having made them) and would likely have stylistic quirks that match up in later designs.
I’m not going to list out other options I was in contact with or that I considered. Instead, I’m going to jump directly to the one I decided to go with: RL Design of [gobookcoverdesign.com]. If you go check out their site, you’ll notice the premade covers option. By this point, I was running against the clock for [IBwaD]’s publication. I therefore reasoned that I needed a cover more quickly. When I browsed the available premades, one actually really caught my eye for [Domes].
(I’m not ready to reveal it yet. Otherwise, I’d put the cover here.)
I reached out to RL Design and ordered both covers: IBwaD’s and Dome’s. The process was nicely simple and professional. Admittedly, we were in contact during an abnormally stressful time in my life. (I might have nitpicked a couple of things as an unintentional stress response – sorry about that.) Overall, I was grateful for the easy process. RL Design still displays the sold covers, but with a mark over them:
(By the way, here’s quick tangent: if the invoice numbers are any indication, Robin does a good amount of business. The speed / level of turnaround is impressive. She clearly has a good system going. And I don’t seem to get email responses on weekends. As someone who is still learning how to create a better work-life balance, I can appreciate that schedule boundary.)
I did find a premade sci-fi cover that I liked, but it didn’t seem fitting enough for Will to Speak. I ended up using RL Design’s custom cover option. This involves filling out a basic form (I think it’s about three pages in a word document), then selecting stock photos. I had a really hard time picking stock photos, so I initially submitted it without them. Whoops. This was a bad idea. I got an email back with (kind of) a design option, but mostly a polite request to pick some stock photos first.
So, yeah, I had to redo it. I actually sent over stock photos the second time. The process still worked out very well. Robin was nicely patient when I sometimes stepped back for a few days to think about the designs. Ultimately, we emailed back and forth several times and I selected the final design. Into the Unknown was a lot easier. I picked out A LOT of stock photos in an effort to simplify the process. I loved the first design that was sent over, so I just had to email back a couple of tweaks. Victim was more difficult (and almost needed a second redesign with different stock options), but I’m satisfied with the design I decided on for my weird little sci-fi horror.
Ultimately, I decided not to do the paperback design option with RL Design. Why? Because I already have a template for the paperbacks. And because I wanted to personally play around with my paperback options. I have the original stock photos plus my fanart experience, so it’s been relatively easy to expand a front cover image around the ebook design to fill a bleed zone. I also wanted to stabilize my template for future paperbacks. Here’s a jpg version of what my template currently looks like:
Organized chaos? Not really. Each raster layer has markers for distance from the front or back edges (plus the top or bottom, depending on location). I basically just fill in the information, recolor it, and resize it over a separate template that looks like this:
(Wondering where I got that background template? It’s actually from Amazon’s [cover design] sizing tool. The main thing I change is actually the spine width. Also, to my knowledge, this does not run afoul of RL Design’s policies. If it does for whatever reason, then I’m sure we can work it out.)
It was actually really easy to upload the new ebook covers to Amazon. They updated both Will to Speak and Into the Unknown in about 24 hours. Victim’s new cover is still being finalized, but it should also be updated within the week. Goodreads, on the other hand, has proven to be a problem. I can’t update the cover directly because of how their site works. So, I reached out to their librarians and accidentally created a bigger issue:
(I can’t seem to make that screenshot any clearer. That link, by the way, goes to the [alternative cover] page. I can’t figure out how to reach that page otherwise.)
The first librarian linked the old and new versions (without my consent) so that I was listed as a co-author on my own books. Whoops. That’s because of the time I changed my writing name. Last time I reached out through that Contact Us link the second librarian suggested, they never bothered to respond to me. I had no reason to expect this time to be different. However, I wasn’t about to leave my books stuck in this organization fiasco. So, I reached out anyways. In just a few days, I actually got a response:
(No, I can’t seem to make this one any clearer either.)
That was a pleasant surprise. They actually have exceptions in place for LGBT authors who do things like change their pen names. My old pen name was very gendered (my current one is not). As a non-binary author, I think their perspective in this response is very validating. I really appreciate that.
They conveniently skipped over the “alternate cover page” and where to locate it (although, to be fair, that wasn’t the bigger problem). I don’t want to accidentally recreate the same issue with an unsuspecting librarian, so I’m just going to let goodreads be. Anyone who decides to be nosy can do a google search and easily find that those are the old covers. I don’t expect that to be an issue.
At this point, I’m almost ready to release the new paperback covers. They just need to be finalized and saved in the proper size format. This means that I’m also almost ready to release the paperback version of It Began with a Dream. (Months after the ebook, but I’m not perfect.) In the meantime. . .
This wasn’t an easy decision for me to make. However, after having been through the process, I appreciate having made this decision. I also appreciate having taken these steps in a way that feels right by my books. The old designs didn’t disappear – you can still find them on my site. In fact, they’re also the covers you will find on goodreads. And I’m looking forward to having an easy, reliable system for future cover designs. I might use some of the premade options again. Otherwise, I’ll pick stock photos and go through the custom design option. It ultimately makes the publication process a lot easier for me.
I’ll miss designing my own covers in the future, but I stand by my decision.