Monday, April 18, 2011

Guest Post and Giveaway with Allie Burke

Go ahead, judge a book by its cover. I do. 

Book covers can be daunting. This, I understand from my personal self-publishing experiences. Me, I cannot draw. I’m not a photographer. In fact, when people see my dangerously outdated digital camera, they usually comment to my hubs, “Dude. When are you going to buy her a new camera? Seriously. That thing is ancient.”

On the other side of things, when I was ready to publish Violet Midnight, I didn’t have a cover designer. No photographer. I don’t personally know any artists. I’ll admit that I attended a graphic design class once, but that was like, ten years ago. 

The cover of my book haunted me. There were so many aspects of my book, my writing, my story, that was, ultimately, my cover’s duty to reveal. Violet Midnight was my title. I needed color. Romance. Mystery. Darkness. These are the elements that raced through my mind as the cover application shone emptiness through my computer screen. 

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Yeah, right. If covers are not meant to be judged, to be admired and cherished, then why do they exist? Why not print out your final draft from home, and ship it to your readers with a staple and a post-it that says, “This is my book”? Because. It wouldn’t be a book. In a world void of book covers, we, as readers, would lose too much. The treasured mystery hidden in the detail of the cover. That feeling you get when you hold a brand new book in your hands, a feeling that is so exclusive, it is unlike any other. That prized moment, when you finish a book that is epic, that moment when you clutch that book to your chest and close your eyes until you can negotiate with yourself the will to let go. 

By book covers, I could be thoroughly influenced to buy a book with no knowledge of its characters, genre, story, or otherwise. The Girl Who Chased the Moon, paperback edition, by Sarah Addison Allen—gorgeous! Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins—original. (Actually, that one, I did buy, and, at the time, I had no clue what it was about.) The Pledge, by Kimberly Derting—intriguing. I could go on for hours, and these would only include books that I know of. 

As I procrastinated, the urge to ‘get ‘er done’ hung thicker behind my eyes with each moment that passed. Finally, I sat down, and breathed deeply. 

I had a new best friend the day of my cover mania, and his name was Google. (Why Google has to be a he, I really don’t know. Sounds like a guy name. With dark brown hair and honey eyes.) Of course, if I found something that would work, I would have to credit the artist. To me, this was inconsequential. Artists deserve their credit as much as I deserve to put my name on the front of my own book.  

So, I started searching. “Violet,” I typed in. “Midnight”. “Night”. “Purple”, and so forth. And, after some pecking, clicking, and “hmmm’s”, I found it. The one. Not only had I found the photograph that would represent my book, but at that same moment I found the photograph for Emerald Destiny, the second installment in the series, which, at the time, I hadn’t yet dared to think about.  

That cover application shining emptiness on the screen?  It would be my secret weapon. What was my layout? How big should my title be? WHERE should my title be?  My name? What about the photograph? All very good questions for which I had no answers. Lucky for me, this cover genius did. 

There were templates! Layouts of varying designs that I could test out until I found the right one. As I did this, with every one I continued to skip over one layout that I was convinced I wouldn’t like. As I reached the end and had experimented with every layout (except one), I realized that I hadn’t found one that I loved. In my excitement to design the perfect cover, I was crushed. 

With a scowl, I surrendered to that rejected layout. I dragged my photo in, set up my fonts and colors, and… poof! It was flipping perfect. It was vivid. Simple. Beautiful. To this very day, I’m still in love with it. 

If you’re unlike me and you know exactly what you want for your book cover, you can foresee your cover in advance, or maybe you've secured a talented designer, photographer, artist—awesome. I’m confident of that certainty to assure a painless process for you. 

If, however, you have written your book, have decided to self-publish and are dreading the moment when you have to sit down and design your book cover, try not to let the process faze you too much. When all else fails, Google it. Play around. Open yourself to ideas that you may not have imagined for your book cover. When it's the one, it’ll be like tasting chocolate for the first time ever. You’ll just, love it. 

Thank you to Kati for having me, and thank you to all for spending the time to hang out with me for a bit. Don’t forget to enter the Violet Midnight giveaway. :)

Allie Burke


Vivien said...

That really sounds overwhelming.

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Evie said...

I just love Allie, she is such a sweet person! I already have a copy of her wonderful book, so don't count me in. Just wanted to say - great interview!

Popular Posts