Way Too Much Crap
When I was creating the original cover, I fell victim to one of the most common cover mistakes: Way Too Much Crap.
Covers are hard. They're like the hardest things ever. You need a single image that represents the feeling, the content, and the genre of the whole dang book. And it's tempting, oh so tempting, to put a little bit of everything on the cover.
I decided the cover absolutely needed it's namesake, The Mothership, but it clearly also needed the main character, Misha the Mouse Mechanic, and then if that wasn't enough, rocketships, because who doesn't love rocketships?
My book debuted at the Alabama Phoenix Festival, a sci-fi/fantasy convention, where I had a table, with prints and books for sale. I figured kid's book with rocketship+sci-fi fans would make a big splash, but it was completely overlooked by everyone. It might as well have been invisible. I would point it out to people looking at my table and they'd be surprised! "Oh, that's a book?" they'd ask. "I couldn't tell!" After getting such a reaction, I really started to think about my life choices.
While the cover passed my most basic formula of Cover Successfulness, it was still left in the dust by my other books and illustrations.
The Stages of Mourning a Cover, step-by-step from a firsthand account.
- I know there's a lot of stuff on this cover. But that's okay! People will still see it's brilliance and want to buy it! I just have to mention it to them.
- (hint: if they don't even realize it's a book, your chances of convincing them to buy it are slim.)
- What's WRONG with these people?! They aren't seeing the brilliance of my book! THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND MY GENIUS!
- (hint: if no one understand's your genius, it's not genius, it's stupid.)
- Maybe I can just make the background black and just spruce it up a little. I don't have to make a whole new cover...
- (hint: your brain is lying to you, don't listen to it.)
- I'll neVER BE AN ARTIST! WHY DID I EvEN MAKE THIS BOOK? NO ONE WANTS A BOOK ABOUT ROCKETSHIPS! I'LL JUST LIE HEre on the floor forever.
- (hint: laying on the floor will not get you a new book cover)
- Alright, fine! I'll just best the best frickle-frackin' cover ever, that'll show them! Then everyone will have to buy my book!
- (hint: your acceptance stage can be anger too.)
Back to the Basics
I went to my original source of inspiration, retro science fiction illustrations for help! My favorites are thus:
|Next time I'll just ask myself, "What would Space Cat do?"|
Learn from my mistakes, kids, don't put Way Too Much Crap on your covers!