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dreamordestiny_frontcover_web_small-185x300Authors who write for large New York publishers often don’t see the cover art for their books until the cover has already been printed. I’m fortunate that my small press publisher, GASLight Publishing LLC, allowed me to have input into the cover design of Dream or Destiny.
The cover designer submitted a great first draft. The body of a woman in a nightgown lay on her side on a hardwood floor, and the spine of the book looked like a blood-splattered door jamb. However, in Dream or Destiny, the victim was shot while lying on her back in bed, and there was no blood-splattered door jamb in the story.

I gave the publisher several suggestions, but the cover designer couldn’t find stock photos that would work with any of my ideas. He suggested several photo Web sites, but the publisher and I couldn’t find anything that fit the story. GASLight’s publishing plan didn’t include original artwork, but we all became increasingly frustrated with the cover. Now I understood why book covers don’t always match the contents of the books.

Although we always hear that you can’t judge a book by its cover, people do. Readers often choose books based on the author, published reviews, or recommendations from people they trust. Otherwise, customers in bookstores typically look at the front cover, then read the back cover blurb, and finally open the book and read a few paragraphs. The cover art, blurb, and opening have to capture readers’ attention or they will return the book to the shelf.

I help my clients who self-publish come up with the right covers for their books, and I wasn’t going to be satisfied with anything less for my own story. I talked to artist Aundrea Hernandez, who has created covers for several of my clients, and got a quote for original artwork for the cover illustration. Then I approached the publisher and offered to split the cost of the artwork. GASLight agreed, and I sent Aundrea an excerpt from the book. She sent us several sketches, and the publisher and I made suggestions. Aundrea kept refining the illustration until we all agreed it was perfect.

The vague and shadowy murderer Marilee envisioned in her dream, a smoking gun, and a bright splatter of blood occupy the top of the cover. Below the title and author name Marilee sits up in bed, eyes wide with the terror she felt on waking from her dream. The picture on the cover perfectly matches the opening scene of the story.

Does the cover of Dream or Destiny make you want to read the book? Do you have any cover art horror stories or any happy stories of perfect cover art to share? I’ll also be glad to answer any other questions you might have. Just leave a comment, and I’ll be back to answer later in the day.

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Lillie Ammann is on a blog book tour for her second novel, the romantic mystery Dream or Destiny. You can read reviews, a free excerpt, and the tour schedule on her Web site. As a freelance writer and editor, Lillie specializes working with self-publishing authors. She blogs books, authors, writing, editing, and publishing at A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye, where she covers. She and her husband Jack live in San Antonio, Texas.

About Dream or Destiny: Marilee Anderson dreams about a murder and wakes to find it really happened. She and David Nichols, the victim’s brother, become the prime suspects. Though they have their secrets and aren’t sure they can trust each other, Marilee and David team up to find the killer in this psychic suspense.

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