Tales of Publication and Re-publication, Part 2: Decisions about “The Cover”

In my last post, I discussed my decision to re-publish and along with that, to put my work through a complete new edit. While I was wrapping my editing up—actually, long before that—I was thinking about a new cover. In some ways, I wanted to stick with the old one. I liked it and some readers had complimented it. When that cover was prepared (through my former publishing company) I had searched for days—nay, for weeks—trying to find the right photo to use. I perused every online site I could find for pictures. In the end, I found one I liked well enough and went with it. Once done, I wanted to add a dagger to the cover, since one of my main character’s chief tools is a magic blade. So, I had to search for photos of blades as well. Unfortunately, my search was to no avail. I did, however, find a website, Medieval Collectibles. I found a dagger I liked there and purchased it without knowing if I could even find a way to make it work on the cover. 



I sent a picture of my dagger, along with a reference to another dagger I found on one of the online sites, and had the publishing company add the longer blade from the online picture to the handle of my dagger. I needed the longer blade for the next step: I wanted them to make the dagger act as the letter “T” in TAKER in OATHTAKER. Here is what the title ended up like:



Even after all the planning for my original cover, I still discovered within days of publishing my work the first time around (March 2013), two other works with the same photo as my own. That was discouraging. But at least none of the many book covers I found had my same dagger. In any case, with re-publication meant the decision about whether I should have a new cover created.


I hemmed. I hawed. I rummaged through websites yet again for a photo that I thought would work for my cover, spending hours at it and getting nothing and nowhere but discouraged. It was all to no avail. I could not find a picture I liked that told my story correctly without also including some element that was strictly outside the bounds of what I wanted. For example, I would find a figure that would work, but the model might have a “come hither” look. That was not my character. Or, I would find something wonderful, but the cloak draped figure was clearly male. Again, that was not my main character. Or, I would find a picture I liked but had seen on numerous other covers . . . . You get the idea.  (I will add here that I did find two pictures that may have worked for my purposes. Since re-publishing—just a week or so ago—I have found other books with both of those pictures. I am so glad that I did not go that route.)


Throughout all my searching (of both the website and “soul” variety), I continually found myself looking back to one website: www.phatpuppy.com. I spent hours there. I had done so even before my first publication when I accidently happened along the site, but at that time, it was not an option for me. If you have never seen PhatPuppy’s work, please take a minute at www.PhatPuppyArt.com. Or—let me re-phrase that: please just go there and wander around for a time. You will find it difficult to tear yourself away and you will likely revisit the site over and over. I show everyone I know (who is even vaguely interested in book cover art), the PhatPuppy site. They all marvel at the works. They are breathtaking! (Make sure you fan PhatPuppy on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/phatpuppyartist so that you can see their new works from time to time. I predict you will find yourself hitting the “LIKE” button regularly.)


I decided to take the plunge. I contacted PhatPuppy, pointing out various works I found on the site that I liked. I got a quick response from Claudia. Claudia informed me that the pictures I had seen and liked were, unfortunately, not available for my cover. Why? Because all cover art that she sells is exclusive and those works were already on other covers. No one else’s book cover will ever have the same picture as one PhatPuppy creates. What’s more, the license PhatPuppy grants the author is good for use of the photo without having to return later to purchase additional rights for more print copies or to use on bookmarks and so forth. That all sounded great to me.


Unfortunately, while PhatPuppy’s site has some shots that are “available for purchase,” none of the current inventory met my needs. They were beautiful to be sure, they just weren’t—for one reason or another—quite right for my work. In some cases, things could be changed, such as the color of a cloak or otherwise but in the end, I did not find the picture I wanted.


So, what was I to do? Well, join me in my next installment to learn more.