Over to you: Your stories of creating/selecting your first book cover

You've finally done it! You've overcome writer's block, distractions and procrastinations and finished penning your first book. Well done. Choosing a cover should be easy in comparison, right?

I asked some of the lovely authors over at http://www.kboards.com/ to share their experiences of developing their first cover. Some decided to do it themselves, some worked with designers. All of them learned from the experience and have shared their thoughts here so you can learn from them too.

AJ Goode – I made my first cover myself and it was horrible. Of course, I thought it was fabulous! It was so bad that a cover artist over at KDP forums approached me and actually designed my new one for free. I paid her for the next two in my romance series.

Now that I know a little more (and have had some strong feedback from the community at kboards) I'm not so sure about them any more. I still love my cover artist, but I'm thinking about looking for someone to make something a little stronger.

For my newest book that isn't part of the series, I've hired an artist friend to create some original artwork.

It's been a lot of fun going back and forth from her original sketches to the almost-final product, and I'll definitely do it this way again for my other comedy books.

Amy Hopkins – I had a super clear idea but was having trouble communicating exactly what I wanted. I ended up finding the image and font, and picked a background while shopping!

I used creative market as I've emailed them before to check terms re using purchased images for book covers. I then made a mock up in canva (looked awful) and found a good designer willing to assemble it at a discounted price, as what I wanted was immediately clear and I was providing the elements. It was $50 each for kindle and paperback.

My designer managed to add elements like the sparkles, deepen and improve the flat background and just make it look gorgeous.

Jeff Hughes – It's kind of like dating.  Wandering through a daze trying to find something beautiful.

Early on, I was so lost – and cringing at the thought of paying what it, apparently, cost – that I seriously contemplated making my own cover. I've still got a folder somewhere on my Mac with candidate photos to start from.

That's a sad place to be.  Maybe not for everyone.  But for most of us.

And then, again very much like that dating thing... serendipity.  You get the mock-ups and there's an epiphany: you know instantly that what your cover artist just did is something you couldn't have touched in a million years.  And suddenly the price you once cringed at becomes not just reasonable, but something you're more than happy to pay.

Seth Kupchick – I had a horrible time with my first cover and the kboards community came down hard on me for it.  They called it DIY in the worst way, and I struggled with this, because artistically I liked the cover but it wasn't pro.  Ultimately, I decided to go with a stock image and one just hit me, and with things like this you really have to go with your intuition. 

R E Vance – I found choosing a designer next to impossible. I didn't have a clear vision of what I wanted and everything (and everyone) seemed wrong.

In the end, I realized that I wasn't a designer and 'micro-managing' one wouldn't help at all.

I went onto Amazon, found a book/cover I really liked and tracked down the designer who made that cover.

I gave him my blurb and a bit about my book, and then left it completely up to him. He did a great job.

Monique Martin – I made my own cover for my first book. When I decided to make it a series, I found a designer – a friend and fellow author – who could take my idea and make it professional. My advice would be, unless you're graphically gifted, hire someone. Indie cover art has come a long way since I started and there are oodles of options. Also, remember branding. Branding is not only important for series but for your overall author brand.

T S Paul – My writing mentor helped me out with mine. I had made a DIY cover, thought it looked good and he shot it right down. Together we picked the font and picture (purchased royalty free) and put something nice together. Its my debut book below in my sig.

It has helped, a lot! for a newbie author, first book, and a shorty 31 pgs, I have been doing great. sold over 60 copies, 3700 kenp and #1 in two short books catagories for over a week.

The book has only been out 10 days! It's got to be the cover. My New book is out now and that cover is really sharp too.

Bruce Fottler – I DIY'd my very first cover. It was an awful, horrible, embarrassing disaster. 

Thankfully, it seems that the internet lost it after it was replaced with several other attempts, each a little less lame than the previous. It's been a long road and a cruel learning curve.

If I could go back and do it all over again, what would I tell myself? STOP! (Give myself a Gibbs head-slap) Look at other covers in your genre and set up a Shutterstock account.

Aim high, get feedback, and don't publish something that you know you'll have to come back and redo when "I find something better." Nobody gets a second chance at a first impression.

I hope you found this useful. I'll add some more author experiences tomorrow.