What goes into a good book cover? What does “good” actually mean? “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” but we, as indie writers, know better. We try to design a cover that speaks to the target audience, a whisper of “hello” or a shout of “read me.”
Leaving Darkness, my latest novel due to come out this fall (2018), is about the road out of the darkness of depression to the light of living a full life. The path can be difficult – wasn’t it Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own who said: “If it were easy, everyone would do it”? His character was referring to baseball but isn’t that true in all aspects of life? I think that if leaving darkness was easy, everyone would do it.
The cover, then, had to reflect these and perhaps other elements: light, path, and challenge. I scoured the Internet for royalty-free photos to match these elements and came close a few times. But for one reason or another, I wasn’t satisfied with any I had found.
Such was on the back of my mind as I vacationed with family this past summer in the Grand Teton National Park. I (almost) never write while on vacation, preferring to reset in the relaxing experience unencumbered as best as possible with issues of life. Yet those issues are never far away in the writer’s mind. While walking with my wife in the park late one afternoon, I was moved to take a picture of a road leading towards mountains in the distance.
Several weeks later, I realized that was the photograph destined for the front cover of Leaving Darkness. All of the elements are in place – the road signifying the path to travel, mountains to conquer along the way, and an encouraging setting sun leading to the light.
I submitted this photograph to the publisher, with some enhancements, as the cover basis. I’m excited to see what their graphic designers do with it.