Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The cover that wasn't

In discussions about self publishing, a widely held view seems to be that the cover of the book is of paramount importance. Self-publishers, it's said, should be prepared to spend money on professionally designed covers for their books.

It's true that the covers of some self published books do look amateurish. But then mainstream publishers don't always get it right either. How often does one see a cover on which the heroine has the wrong hair colour, or is wearing a dress that  is quite wrong for the date at which the book is set?

For various reasons I didn't go for a professional cover for Inheritance of Secrets, but designed my own. Having made the decision to publish on Kindle, I had limited time in which to do it, and finding a cover artist and conveying what I wanted would have taken too long.

Also, I was approaching this as a learning process and thought it would be useful to start at a point from which I could tweak or change everything to see what worked best.

I wanted to feature a young woman on the cover, to represent my central character. I went looking on the internet and found a picture that was just what I wanted. The woman in the picture is prettier than my heroine, but everything else is just right.

Then I discovered that it's a portrait of Emma Hamilton by George Romney. I thought potential readers might recognise it as Emma and be misled into thinking the book was about her. With regret, I abandoned it.

I chose instead an image I had of a suitable house. Not as good as a person, but the house is important to the story. I wanted to establish that it is not a mansion. 

I think the picture I used establishes the mood and setting of the story quite well. But I still wish I could have used Emma.  


  1. I've just been to take a look at your book, tempted by the cover picture. It's within my £1.99 Kindle limit and I liked the first few pages so now I look forward to reading it :-)

    You are so right about the professional artists getting it wrong - I am just reading Parson's House by Elizabeth Cadell, one of my secret vices (though she's more a virtue than a vice!). In the book which stars the house itself, there is a detailed description of how it looks. I am dead certain the artist for this edition never read that far into the book but why on earth didn't the publisher just hand him the relevant paragraph? Grrr.

  2. Thanks for buying the book. I hope you enjoy it. Hope to see you here again, too.