Operation New Edition: A New Cover Story

One thing I was always really proud of about Mousetrapped was its cover. (See gigantic front cover pic in sidebar. This ->->-> way and down a bit.) Covers are always the one place self-published – or self-printed – books make sure to let themselves down, and as such a dedicated lover of books myself there was no way I was letting my self-printed book go down the same route.

After seeing the horrors that Createspace’s cover creation “wizard” produced, I knew I had to make my own. So I had a think about it, played around with some mock-ups in MS Word and then had a graphic designer translate my efforts into an even better PDF, the format Createspace accept. You can read about my original cover story and see the designs that fell by the wayside here.

The original back cover of Mousetrapped. Createspace add the barcode in the bottom right-hand corner.

I was happy with the back cover when I released Mousetrapped last March, but never completely so. It was mostly blank space – or blank blue space, anyway, as it had a background pic – which as I should know because I’m forever banging on about it, is nothing like the back cover of a ‘real’ book. But with the exception of the handful of people who wandered into Douglas Bookshop – the only brick-and-mortar place where Mousetrapped is for sale – most readers wouldn’t see the back cover until after they’d bought the book. As I’m a work-smarter-not-harder kind of gal, I decided to focus my energies on more important things.

(Like my book launch outfit.)

So I didn’t worry about it. But I did think I could’ve done it better, so I kept an eye out for ideas. Because that was why the back cover was the way it was: because I had no idea what to put on there, other than the blurb and the barcode.

First I noticed two different travel books I read towards the end of last year used postcards in their back cover designs, and very effectively. This had never occurred to me even though now it seems fairly obvious. So I made a mental note: incorporate a postcard. Then during my visit to Orlando last October I happened to take a lovely picture (if I do say so myself) of Downtown Disney at sunset. (A car park, but still!) With its palm trees in silhouette against a purple sky it would make the perfect background photograph, I thought. And since we were throwing in new pictures, why not put one of me in as well? One of me in Florida. One of me in Florida in 2006, when I was skinny. Perfect! Finally I did what actual cover designers do: I turned to stock image databases like iStock and ShutterStock, and found some stamps and airmail stickers – and a suitable postcard. Putting all those things together, I came up with this:

My Back Cover II mock-up, made in MS Word. This is a wholly unsuitable format for cover design but it can help self-publishing authors figure out what they want. The background image is set to ‘behind text’ and all the text is in text boxes set to ‘tight’ layout and ‘no fill’ so they appear to be invisible. It has its limits though: no matter what I tried I couldn’t angle the text in the postcard, for example.

I sent this to my cover designer, Andrew (who I’ll be telling you lots more about soon; he’s going to have some great offers for self-publishers), who figured out technical things like readability of text and scale and all that stuff that I hadn’t concerned myself with.

And so: are you ready for the new back cover?

Drum roll, please!

Ta-daaaa! The new Mousetrapped back cover. Click for larger.

I really, really like it. I love the way the front is all sunny and bright and day, and now the back is all sunset and twilight and night. I like how the back is now just as interesting – if not more interesting – than the front. I like how both sides have palm trees. And I love how it conveys the traveling theme of the book way better than a blank blue sky ever could.

Just to compare:

I’ve ordered a proof copy and am now waiting very impatiently to see it in the flesh.

(Or on paper. Or card. Oh, you know what I mean.)

Read all my Self-Printing: Operation New Edition posts.

5 thoughts on “Operation New Edition: A New Cover Story

  1. Belinda Kroll says:

    Nicely done! I love that you looked at competing books to help you determine what would be appropriate for your next edition. It always surprises me when I hear that indie authors aren’t checking out their competition…

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