As I neared the end of the first draft of book #2, I decided that I should try to get a professional cover made. Regular readers (are there any?) will probably be thinking that the second book in my trilogy is to be named book #2, but rest assured that’s not the case, and the cover and title reveal will be the subject of a separate post next month.
So, taking a tip from a fellow indie author, I asked a seller on Fiverr, Oliviaprodesign, to come up with a cover for book #2. I was so bowled over with the result that I decided to get a new cover designed for Monkey Arkwright – the result of which you can see in all its glory at the top of this article. Here are a few thoughts on the new cover.
I’m an indie author. I can’t justify spending hundreds of pounds on the artwork, and so when I released Monkey Arkwright last year, I went for a homemade cover. I did try to contact a professional cover designer, just to see how much it would cost, but when I didn’t receive a response, I just decided to plough on on my own. I grabbed a photo – making sure that it was free to use under the Creative Commons 0 license – used Powerpoint to add a title and author name and voila, the cover was born. I wasn’t kidding myself – although I was pleased with the result, it was firmly pitched in the “enthusiastic amateur” camp.
When you’ve spent nearly two years writing and polishing your first novel, you have all of these scenes in your head, any of which you think would make a spectacular cover. But the reality is quite different. Generally, cover designers pull one or two stock images together, add your name and title, and you hope to get something tasteful as a result. You are therefore limited by the stock images available, so if, for example, your main character is a chimpanzee dressed as a frogman, then you may find your options somewhat limited. I had a few ideas for Monkey Arkwright: an arty look with some train tracks running into the woods (in homage to Stand By Me), Lorna and Monkey meeting in the cemetery, Monkey climbing the church tower, but none of the images I looked at quite worked for one reason or another.
In the end, I realised that I was trying to be too literal; what was important was something that conveyed the atmosphere and tone of the novel, rather than a precise rendering of one of its scenes. Whilst my book does feature a scene at a funfair that has a Ferris Wheel, that wasn’t the only reason why I picked the cover image that you see above. I liked the skeletal trees around the edges of the frame and the haunted look of the photo as a whole. Plus, the fact that the photo you see is of an abandoned funfair ties in with one of Monkey Arkwright’s themes: that of exploring abandoned places. For anybody who has read the book, the location of this Ferris Wheel that has seen better days has significance to one of the characters, as revealed in the epilogue. If you haven’t read the book, then I’m not going to spoil the ending!