Picking the Perfect Book Cover guest post by Michelle Birbeck @michellebirbeck

Greetings all! June has been crazy busy for me, so this is my first post in a while. And I’m happy that it’s my first ever guest post! Excluding interviews with Celebrity authors, this is my first honest guest blog written entirely by Ms. Michelle Birbeck, author of The Last Keeper. Here is her brilliant thoughts about where ideas of your book cover can come from. So here she is!

Fifteen hundred years ago, Serenity Cardea took the life of the only vampire she ever regretted killing—Henry, her sister’s husband. With her sister brutally murdered, Serenity had little choice but to grant Henry the only request he had: death. Centuries later, Serenity is no closer to discovering who betrayed them or instigated the massacre of her brothers and sisters.

The vampires want dominance—over their food, the other races . . . the world. To get it, they’ve systematically hunted down and slaughtered the only ones standing in their way. The Keepers.

As a Keeper, Serenity is tasked with protecting the delicate balance between the creatures of the world: Vampire, Witch, Were, and Human. Her kind exists to ensure that no single race sways the balance, dooming the world to destruction.

They’re on the brink of extinction, with no sign of return. Now only two remain, and Serenity’s last brother is facing death, leaving her standing alone against a never-ending tide of vampires, all wanting one thing: power.

Then she meets Ray Synclair, a history professor in training with a passion for centuries past, and the harsh reality of her limited time comes crashing down on her. He is her weakness. His mortality is the countdown on Serenity’s life, and with each passing second, it comes closer to the end, for both of them.

She must uncover the secrets of her people’s past and find out who betrayed them—and who is still doing so—before it’s too late.

Serenity’s days are numbered, and Ray will be drawn into a world of myth and legend, where just being alive is enough to get him hunted down.

Because the only way to kill a Keeper is to kill their partner . . .

Since the release of The Last Keeper, there have been a lot of comments on the cover. The saying goes that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it, the first thing we see is the cover. Hard not to judge something by its first impression. So when it came time to looking at the cover for The Last Keeper, I didn’t rush it.

The idea I had in my head was completely different from what I ended up with. The initial idea was that I wanted the main character, Serenity Cardea, standing with her back to the viewer, clad in a dark cloak, looking over her shoulder. The background was going to be a tunnel through the trees, with their leaves in that wonderful mixture of autumn golds and reds. Then, peering around the trunks were going to be dark faces, almost invisible unless someone looked very closely.

I had that idea in my head for a long time. It was what I wanted on the cover, and for a while it was all I ever thought of having on the cover. Then it came to looking at pictures, and not a single one that I could find really represented the image I had in my head. Nothing I saw in the options I had—and they were extensive—came close to what was in my head.

Until I saw her. I don’t know who she is, what her name is, or anything about her. But when I saw the picture, it screamed at me, shattering everything I’d ever dreamed of for The Last Keeper’s cover.

Staring out of my computer screen, right at me, was Serenity Cardea. It was THE cover. Perfection… apart from one thing. Serenity is a redhead with eyes the colour of emeralds. The lady in the picture was a brunette with blue eyes.

Despite it being the perfect picture, I wasn’t sure the eye and hair colour could be changed easily and well enough to be on the front of the book. So I started looking at other options. There were plenty of redheaded women in the picture I looked at, and I found a couple of options that took my fancy. But none were as perfect as the blue eyed brunette.

My original image of trees, faces, and Serenity looking over her shoulder was gone. That brunette changed everything I wanted for the cover of my book. Suddenly I wasn’t looking for trees and full figures. I was looking for faces, women who would look out of the cover of the book and beg the readers to open up and take a peek. The whole idea changed until something new and exciting. If only I could get the right picture, the right person.

So when I started writing my email, detailing the choices I’d made and what I wanted. The top of the list was every single one of my back-up choices. They were the ones I’d picked when my vision of what I wanted changed.

Then, at the very end, once I’d written the email, signed my name, and was ready to send, I though, no, I’m going to send that one in, just to see if they can do it.

And at the end of the email I tacked on a little bit with the picture, just saying how it was perfect, except for the hair and eyes.

I’m not exactly new to image manipulation and photoshopping, but I’m far from being an expert, and I honestly thought it wasn’t possible. Then the email came back to me, and there it was, the book cover. Not just any book cover. MY book cover.

Yet that wasn’t my first thought. It didn’t occur to me when I first saw it that this was my book cover. What I thought first isn’t really repeatable, and if repeated would come out pretty much as a line of random letters and numbers from button mashing the keyboard. I was that excited!

Staring back at me was Serenity Cardea. Face of The Keepers’ Chronicles series. Last Keeper. First twin. And everything I could ever want on the front of the book. From the stunning green of her eyes, to the new red of her hair. And her smile. That slight upturning of her lips that to me shows so much of her character.

And there you have it. Choosing the cover wasn’t a simple task, but the end result is everything I never knew I wanted. And it’s sparked a few ideas for the cover of Last Chance (due out next year), but you’ll have to stay tuned for those!

In the meantime, you can find The Last Keeper at Amazon for your Kindle, B&N for your NOOK, and TWCS Publishing House for all other ereaders and paperback.

——

Wow! That does look like the perfect cover, Michelle 🙂 Looks like there’s a few lessons here, like being open minded to finding the perfect cover for your masterpiece! And how magical Photoshop can be 🙂

Thanks for stopping by on Life, Muse and Coffee with these great tips, Michelle! I hope to have many more guest posts in the future, this was fun!

❤ Claire

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