My new book, A Spell of Rowans, now has a finalized cover! If you’re a member of my Facebook fans group you know that I’ve been playing with different cover ideas for this contemporary story about three siblings who must deal with the fall-out after their mother’s death.

In starting to design this book cover I knew that it would be coming out in an ebook, and paperback, and possibly an audio book. So the art needed to look good at various sizes and fit the genre. I wanted something that would fit with the Magical Realism genre and give an emotional impact of spooky but not scary, family, and magic.

Book Cover design elements to be considered:

  • Can I find the right image? I would have preferred the hands have paint on them but I couldn’t find any photos of paint-stained hands held in this position (open-palmed);
  • Can I montage/manipulate that image with the others considering the level of my Photoshop skills? I am not an advanced user and I’m really pushing my skills here to get the covers I am. But I am also starting to take courses to get there so look for even better covers!
  • How does this book cover look as a thumbnail? Most buyers on Amazon will first see this as a thumbnail so the title must be clear to read AND some imagery must give a 15 second impression that encourages the reader to click through and read the book description.
  • Book cover must tell the reader the genre by the artwork so it helps the reader with their expectations. For example, the pink/purple color scheme is very paranormal, while blue is often SF, fantasy, and paranormal.
  • Can I wraparound this image for a print cover? If the printing process slips in the manufacturing process (and it will slip, that’s the nature of the beast), front art work can be thrown off by a quarter to a 32nd of an inch. Artwork needs to consider this possibility.

My next step was to consider the overall theme of the book. Vic Rowan escaped her family at age nineteen after a tragedy. At 34, she has a successful career as an art restorer. When her sister calls to let her know their mother is dead, Vic heads home to help her brother and sister wrap up the estate. Blackmail, murder, and magic are the result. And oh, yeah, that boy she dumped way back is hanging around, and worst, he knows the truth about her.

What symbols could represent main themes in the book?:

  • Childhood trauma: broken or abused toy, abandoned toy like a car or doll; a sad child;
  • House: serves as the place where the secrets were hidden, the inside face vs the outside face;
  • Water: plays a big part in the story and water itself is a transformational symbol but the more I played with using it the more crime-thriller the cover became;
  • Children: originally I wanted the cover to be three hands of children who were clasping each other but I was not able to find a stock photo that would work with this theme.
  • Car: Victor’s car (the heroine’s father) is also a turning point in the story, so we looked at different images of either toy cars or retro cars. However, I felt that didn’t fit the genre IMO.
  • Painting: Vic (the heroine) is an art restorer and painting does play into the ending. Paintbrushes, paint stained hands, canvas, and even paintings themselves. But I couldn’t find the pose I wanted.

Images are collected on an istockphoto board. I also start researching other books in the same genre and pay attention to their colors, themes, and fonts. Most of the Magical Realism contemporary books I’ve been looking at do a metaphorical cover that has dream-like elements, sometimes very stark images. The book cover must fit but also be unique, just like siblings.

The eventual fonts and letter spacing I chose reflect the style of those found in this genre. The “a novel” lets readers know that this book is more serious in tone, probably dealing with societal issues or community.

What I wanted to avoid:

  • Chick-Lit Summer Read look with a house/beach vacation feel;
  • A dark brooding, Crime-Thriller genre look;
  • Horror/Serial Killer genre book cover which with the brooding themes in this book, the cover could have become that, no doubt, and throw off readers;
  • Romance genre with a couple touching;
  • A person’s face on the cover – I’ve had a few (not many) complaints about this and I do think that unless you find the right model it doesn’t come off right. It also sets in the readers mind who the character looks like, and I prefer that readers imagine that to a certain extent.

Next, I tried out about five different book covers to my private fan club on Facebook. BTW this group always gets the heads up on my projects, what I’m working on, what is coming out next etc… If you are a Byrd fan and are on Facebook this is where I do most of my one-on-one with my readers (such as sharing my latest little isolated cottage vacation adventure).

Here’s the final cover beside the working cover I started with.

I thought the paintbrush with sparkles was a decent cover but it wasn’t at the professional level that I wanted for this book. I wanted a print book that could proudly sit next to traditionally published books in a bookstore and look as good, if not better.

This book is going to be an intense read and it was an adventure to write (more about that later). I’m waiting on a few dates from my editor before putting A Spell of Rowans up for pre-release. Be aware that A Spell of Rowans deals with child trauma and does have an assault in it, so I am recommending a 17+ rating on the book.

Listen to A Spell of Rowans Spotify Playlist!

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