Lisa Malabana is the author of Consonance, and she was kind enough to agree to write a guest post for us as part of her Book Blast Tour. Lisa and I have a lot in common; we are both influenced by the ideas of art and creativity. It’s been a pleasure to connect online with her.
Thanks so much, Lisa, and best of luck in your literary endeavors! And now…Lisa!
“My Eyes are Closed,” Choosing the Perfect Book Cover
“I don’t like this picture, my eyes are closed.” I’ve heard that excuse many times, and often use that reason not to choose a picture for a photo album. Picking a perfect book cover is not as simple as deleting a bad picture. I’d rather shut my eyes.
My daughter happens to be a good artist in the making. Like me, she loves music, even played the piano for a while and the guitar briefly. She gave up those instruments for the clarinet (for now). Art is the only thing she remains devoted to. Unlike her I am no artist, but I can clearly form an image in my mind when it comes to my story and characters.
Consonance is heavily influenced by music. The inspiration for the story came from my abandoned instruments (piano, guitar, and bass guitar). I wanted to bring them to life and tell a story in the process. I could go on and on about how music can inspire a story, and how a story can inspire a song, but I want to focus on visual art instead.
As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Whichever art form or style is used, the image or sculpture can elicit an emotion, interpretation, or wonderment. If it is intriguing, then a person will want to learn more about the art piece and the artist.
A book cover should bring about the same principle. Readers peruse the many assortments of books in a bookstore or ebooks in the online store. If a picture captures the attention of the customer, he or she will proceed to read the book blurb, and decide on whether or not to purchase the book. That first impression is essential to make a sale.
An eye-catching book cover is important, but the image should also fit the description of the book. I may pass on a book if the cover has a raging sea with a man drowning because his boat capsized, although the book flap and excerpt indicates a romance novel set in the Civil War period. Yes, I am exaggerating to illustrate a point.
I am embarrassed to admit that my first book cover for Consonance was terrible. My idea to have a picture of my piano keyboard and the strings of my acoustic guitar to make it feel more personal backfired. This idea actually did the opposite of what I was aiming for. The cover was boring, even the colors were muted and it did not help my book to pop out saying, “Stop and read the blurb!”
The image didn’t seem personal. It was just piano keys and guitar strings. There is nothing special about the picture, so it’s not worth the reader’s time and he/she will move on to the next book.
My initial concept failed, although this did not mean I can’t try again by infusing something personal. For the second attempt, I closed my eyes and imagined the book cover from the perspective of my protagonist, Elle Martins. She is a classically trained pianist, a singer, and guitarist recruited into a newly-formed rock band.
The entertainment image of a stage, spotlights, musicians, and a wild crowd of fans cheering with hands in the air appeared exciting. Yet my mind didn’t envision or embrace that thought. The piano was vital to my cover. After all, the story introduces Elle’s talent on the piano before readers discover her other skills.
Next, I hired a book cover designer. It is important to work with a designer who understands the concept of the story and therefore, comprehends an author’s vision of the book. We agreed on a set budget and how many revisions would be covered in that price range. She gave me resources of royalty free image websites, and gave me the freedom to choose pictures that I like while she did the same based on the book description I provided to her. She also gave me the time I needed to make changes to the cover before agreeing on the final product.
The designer offered three possible book covers based on the images I liked the most. She followed my concept of hands playing the piano and hiding the woman’s facial features so the readers can have their own mental picture of Elle’s appearance. I finally chose the image that means something personal to me.
My second book cover is simple, but it captures the essence of a musician playing a song of her story in a classic style. I am very happy with my choice. To me, the book cover is “picture perfect.”
The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. ~Aristotle
Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. I had a wonderful time sharing my experiences with you and your readers.