Immortal Musings was the first book I published in my journey to becoming an independent author. The month and year was December 2011, so it’s close to five years since I decided that my collection of poetry was interesting enough to sell in an overcrowded and rather obscure market.
It wasn’t, of course, but that’s not why we’re here. Sure, no one buys poetry except for rare readers and occasions, but at the time I knew nothing of markets and audiences. I just wanted to publish my volume of speculative verse. So I used the tools available at Createspace and published this version.
Nothing particularly wrong with this cover at all. It is pretty much what it suggests: a generic cover for a poetry collection. Thing is, being independent means you get to tinker much more than you can at the mercy of a publisher, where in some cases you don’t even have a say. If your publisher thinks a haunting photo of a snow-capped mountain will sell copies of your speculative poetry collection, you might not be able to suggest that ‘speculative poetry’ might need a more dynamic cover. Something mind-boggling or more suggestive of your theme: immortality.
Okay, so now we add a bit of color, a lovely landscape, and a long, empty road. Sure, it’s not all that bad, but what the heck is the theme here? Loneliness? Long treks along the open road? I don’t know, and you probably don’t either.
After a few more false starts, I eventually nailed down a more creative design.
In this case I went more personal: an edited photo of myself in dramatic form layered with a backdrop provided by my friend Stefan, who is too cool to use his last name. I rather like this one. You get the letters in the background, denoting poetry. You get a female floating in the sky, which could represent longing, lost love, or even death: all of which are touched on the in the collection. And you get a house of some sort, which could represent all sorts of things. Not a bad cover at all, and it cost literally nothing to create. I used the tools at Canva for the title fonts.
Now, I’ve already admitted that this book doesn’t sell. I can probably count the number of purchased copies on my fingers. And that’s all right. Immortal Musings is mainly for me. It represents a period of time when I dealt with my emotional side, or innermost feelings and eventually learned how to turn those feelings into art. Of course, that only occurred when I forced myself to disconnect from the emotion and look at the verses as though written by someone else. In time the poems took shape as I rewrote them from an entirely different perspective: that of a wandering immortal who has observed humanity and himself over ages of time; all of the sadness and loss, detached emotion, and lyrical musings that come with such a consciousness.
That recollection struck me as I recently updated the description of the book. And so once again I was nagged by whether or not the cover truly represented what the collection was about. If you guessed I redesigned the cover yet another time, you’d be correct.
Finally, a cover for a work of speculative fiction. Is this being a sentient statue? A disintegrating humanoid? An immortal being about to shed its skin and become something marvelous or hideous? Who knows, but hopefully it grabs your attention. The light projections, the erosion, the darkness and mystery…all of it goes hand-in-hand with the writing found within the pages of the collection. Again, this was created using a stock purchase at 123rf.com and Canva for the fonts. Easy peasy, folks.
So, why go through all this trouble for a book that doesn’t sell or appeal to a mass audience?
Because I always want to represent my work in the best way. A writer’s book cover is usually the first thing potential readers see, and they will judge the book by it. But it’s more than that. My books are my brand, and I want them to be showcased in a way that’s completely accurate and interesting.
Because there’s nothing at all wrong with presenting your best.
So what do you think? Improvement, or not? I’d love to hear in the comments!
My name is Bard Constantine, and if you’re reading this you already know that Bard Writes Books.