Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Cover It Right by Sandra Ardoin

To some of you, this post might seem familiar. In fact, you may have seen it yesterday. Ugh! I apologize for getting my dates mixed up.

I love book covers. I love to look at them. I love to study them. I love how some make me want to read the book in the future and how some make me want to read the book NOW.

But I never knew how hard it would be to decide on a cover until I was responsible for choosing one for my latest novella, A Love Most Worthy.

I’d hoped to find a premade and save a little money. This was my first indie-published book and, honestly, the budget was a little tight. I scoured the internet for cover designers, then scoured their sites for a premade that would be appropriate. No go.

I played around with doing something myself. Clearly, I am no graphic designer.

I considered hiring someone on Fiverr, but changed my mind. A book cover, like the story inside, is too important to take shortcuts.

Then, I found a designer who created book covers reminiscent of some of my favorites from Bethany House and Revell books. She also had premades! Unfortunately, none of them fit my book either. Believing I wouldn’t be happy with anything else, I decided to splurge and hire her for a custom design, then gave her all the pertinent information I thought she needed.

Boy, I was on pins and needles, waiting to see what she would create from the descriptions I gave her. And then it came, the email that brought goosebumps. Was the design perfect? No. Was it what I had envisioned? Actually, I had no vision of what would be good. But she got it. She got Hallie and the setting. She got that I wanted well-blended images that looked like they were one. We went back and forth with the changes: colors, fonts, lighten it, enlarge this, full face or partial.

Those were tough decisions for someone who takes forever to make a decision. Turns out, the easiest choice I made was in the designer and to go with the custom order. Variations came to me, then went straight to my advisers (my crit partner, husband, and daughter).

But I learned some things:

Don’t scimp. Those in the know will always tell you to avoid the DIY approach and hire someone worthy of your book. Listen to them.

Take your time. Find that person whose work best suits what you have in mind for your book.

Don’t be afraid to ask for revisions. The designer wants you to be as happy with the work as you want your readers to be. Reputations are on the line.

Get input from others. Don’t be shy about asking someone else what they think. They might point out something you hadn’t noticed or even considered. I’m pretty sure not everyone will like your decisions, but in the end, it’s your book and your need to be satisfied.

Have you been responsible for making the decision about a book cover? What did you learn from it?

When it came time to reveal my new cover, I created a short video, unable to resist teasing the viewer. 


As an author of heartwarming and award-winning historical romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. Rarely out of reach of a book, she's also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

Visit her at Connect with her on BookBub, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

As a gift for her newsletter subscribers, Sandra wrote a short story to accompany A Love Most Worthy—a “prelude.” It provides some insight into Hallie’s story, something those who read only the novella won’t receive. So, join the Love and Faith in Fiction community and keep up with what’s new, discover what’s upcoming, and learn of specials and giveaways.

She didn't know which was colder, an Arctic winter or her new husband’s heart.

Hallie Russell believes life should be lived to the fullest. For that reason, she sails to the gold
rush town of Nome, Alaska to take her cousin’s place as the mail-order bride of a respected shopkeeper. But when her aloof husband’s wedding-night announcement rocks her plans for their marriage, Hallie sees her desire for a family to call her own vanish as quickly as the dreams of hopeful miners.

Tragedy led Rance Preston to repent of his rowdy ways and open a general store for the miners in Nome. He’s content in his bachelorhood, but his two orphaned nephews deserve a proper and serious-minded mother. Duped once by a vivacious female, he’s determined to never again let his heart overrule his head…until the high spirits of his new bride threaten his resolve.

When a misunderstanding comes to light, will they allow the gale force winds of insecurity to destroy what they each need most?


  1. Sandra, what a gorgeous cover! It fits the book description perfectly. I can see Hallie's attitude in her posture. Love it. - I also had input in designing my book cover. One of my former students is a graphic designer who creates books covers as a side hustle. I'm with a small press and when I signed my contract, I asked if we could submit a cover idea. They were reluctant but finally agreed. I asked another former student if her 4-year-old would be the cover model. Then I talked to a photographer friend about what I envisioned (mother of another former student). I love that she said, "I know exactly what you want" -- but then gave me something very different but SO much better than I'd asked for. I also sent the graphic designer a variety of covers I liked. Then we submitted the final product to the publisher. My editor emailed me the morning they were going to review the cover and said she'd get back with me. I was beyond thrilled when I received her email that afternoon saying the cover "caught the very essence of the story." I would like to take credit for that, but I had a gifted photographer with an artist's eye and an amazing graphic designer...and a cutie-patooty cover model. I love my cover because the making of it involved people in my life. :)

    1. She is a cutie-patootie, Karen! A lovely cover, and I can see how having people involved that you know makes it even more special to you. You were fortunate to have so much input and a designer that really got your need. Since your editor was so pleased, maybe she'll let you have that input again. :)

      I'm glad you like the cover of ALMW! Thanks much for saying so!

  2. You made the right call, Sandy! The cover is perfect. It looks professional, and that gives indie books a boost. Covers are so important! I agree. Some make you want to read the book right now. Great post! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. Thanks, Annette. I think the expectations for indies are going up. Part of that expectation is a professional-looking cover. I see more and more indies really upping their game in that area.

  4. Like you, Sandy, I love looking at book covers. As a visual person who has always been drawn to any type of artwork, it's really important to me that a cover is done well. And I love yours! You made the right decision so invest in your book with a lovely design. Thanks for sharing your tips with our readers!

    1. Thanks, Dawn, and as you know, I've always found your covers to be beautiful! I think you made the right choices too. :)

  5. Your advice not to scrimp is spot on. When I decided to self-publish, my niece, a professional editor, said, “One problem I have with self-publishing is that so many of the covers look ‘self-published.’” That’s when I decided I’d spare no expense and get a professional looking cover. I found Bespoke Book Covers online, and I was very pleased with their product as well as their professionalism. I’ve received many compliments on my cover, and. I don’t think it shouts “Self-published!”
    Your book cover is lovely, and you’ve given great advice in this post.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Dee Dee! Covers are such an important draw to our books that we can't afford to put up any old one. As I told Annette, I really think that's starting to change as more indies take their goals for book sales seriously.

  6. Great advice, Sandra, especially about having lots of different people look at your design and give honest feedback. My romantic historicals are read by men as well as women, and if I only asked women, my covers probably wouldn't work well to attract men. The only way to know if your cover appeals to your whole audience is to try it on people who are like your whole range of readers.

    I love the cover design part of preparing a book for release. I just sent the information files to my regular designer, Roseanna White, and she's about to start designing number 6 for me. The excitement while waiting for that first concept design to's hard to describe, but you know what I mean!

    1. Thanks, Carol. It is exciting while waiting to see what the designer comes up with. Have fun with number six!


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