In the past two Guest posts we saw how one author went through her personal writing process to evolve her writing into a story. In today’s Our Little Books Guest Post Wednesday, we explore another author’s creative process but this time with the evolution of her cover. Karen Jones, the author of the children’s book, The Squishy, Stinky Diaper, shares her process with us in how she came to her final choice for her cover.
I am very pleased with the cover design I’m now using on my book, The Squishy, Stinky Diaper. However, it took several tries to get it the way it is now.
My first attempt at cover design for my book (using the original title) featured a large version of the baby’s squishy diaper. It also had a rather plain font (the same as the font I was using within the book).
I used this first cover on a proof copy that I sent out for review to a local preschool. The responses I received from the preschool teachers were very helpful in a number of ways that I won’t go into here. However, in response to the cover, two of the teachers didn’t initially see that the image was squishy, used baby diaper.
My initial response was an emotional one. Were they nuts? It’s obviously a diaper. What else could it be? However, after taking a deep breath and rereading the critique, I decided that this was a legitimate concern. Nuts or not, two different people had the same response. They didn’t see this illustration as a picture of a diaper. That was a problem. What good is using an illustration of a diaper that isn’t recognizable by some as a diaper?
So, I went back to the drawing board, or drawing computer, and came up with cover attempt number 2. In this one I chose a different illustration from the book, one with the baby poking its diaper.
Notice that the text is still in that same Comic Sans MS font? I knew it was very plain and didn’t look quite as professional as I’d like. However, I was working on a lot of things at the time so I called it good enough and published the first edition with this cover.
After a couple months with very minimal sales, I decided to take advantage of a promotional package that my POD provided. However, the package did not apply to books formatted with the dimensions I chose for my book. So, I had to do a complete reformat to fit the new dimensions.
Since I was making extensive changes anyway, I decided to tackle that cover again. This time I wanted it to look really sharp. So, I trolled the web, looking for interesting free fonts to use on the title graphic. Once I found some I liked, I distorted them in Photoshop until I came up with a title graphic that I was finally really happy with.
Notice how the word Squishy looks all squashed and the word Stinky looks all yucky and smelly? I actually did try it with different colors. Stinky being brown, for example, but it crossed the line between cute gross and really gross. Green seemed to convey the idea without being quite so disgusting.
I also changed the by line font to one that looked a bit more unique and added my middle initial to my name. This was a decision I made because Karen Jones is an extremely common name. Karen B. Jones is a bit more unique.
With this version, I finally felt that I had something to be proud of. So much so that I felt a little ashamed of the cover I was still using for the square format version of the book. So, I redid that one as well.
There’s a world of difference between that first cover and the final versions I’m using now. I am so glad that I took the time to keep trying until I got it right. I sometimes think that’s the difference between an amateur and a professional. An amateur will be satisfied with good enough while a professional will keep at it until it’s just right. I want to be a professional.
Karen B. Jones is a writer and illustrator in Olathe, KS. She recently completed a children's picture book titled The Squishy, Stinky Diaper and is beginning to work on her second book which will be about Trash Day. She is also working on her illustration portfolio. For more information on her book visit Karen's website.