Designing my book cover

Designing my book cover

I thought I’d finished my book cover design months ago. I liked it, and it had a nice feel. And while I didn’t show it to anyone, I was confident that it would work well. I do design work for a living, but not graphic design.¬†

That said, I didn’t consider what audience I was designing for or compare it to books in a similar genre. Beyond that, I hadn’t really decided what genre my book fit into and evaluate competitors. Essentially, I didn’t do my homework and when I shared the cover with friends and asked for reactions, it became very clear that the people I wanted to would not pick up or click on the cover to read the synopsis.

Below is a partial progression of covers and a brief explanation of why I made additional changes. There were a lot more small variations along the way.

Image Description
Starting version. I wanted a mysterious male character and I liked the metaphor of light fading as it relates to societies collapse. I had considered using this as a theme for the next books in the story. In the end, it didn't really fit and felt too cheesy and overdone.
Slightly different male pose. I wanted to be able to see a bit of the man's expression and felt like the cover where he faced away entirely made it look like he was leaving her or something like that, which has northing to do with the book.
I experimented with a variety of titles in the cover, trying to see if I I liked them enough, this is one I thought I would like, but it felt too simple and not descriptive of the story at all.
A title that I actually liked. Read my post about coming up with the title if you want to learn more.
Adding a face to give the cover more life. Most people assumed the book was a romance at this point.
I added some damage to the characters face to try and make her look both insured and less healthy because her body is shutting down in the book. I also added the bags under her eyes to do the same.
The character looking down, with damage to her face, and a male character in the image, led some to think it might be domestic violence situation. Because of this, I wanted to find a model who represented a female character who had been through tragedy and pain but was determined to overcome.
Changed the background to be more in line with the actual setting and the science fiction genre. I also downplayed the injuries and softened the forehead muscles to make her look less angry. The new setting and slightly toned down expression lead both men and women to prefer this cover greatly.
Added the light at the end of the tunnel and the trees there to make sure readers understood that the setting was earth. I also removed the italic font, and the rainbow coloring from the flare under the title to avoid any misconception that this book contained LGBT themes.

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