Evolution of a Book Cover

I do my own cover art (for better or worse) and most often I work one up well before I even start on a novel. I think it helps build interest having a finished cover sitting out there on my site, visually telling people what I’ve got in the pipeline. It also motivates me a little.

The downside is that I’m sometimes left with cover art for projects that never got off the ground. Other times I think I’ve nailed the image I want, only to find a better one down the road. That said, I use stock images, so that means I’m out very little money ($10-$20 per image) if I never end up using it for a cover.

That’s what’s happened with Beyond the Badlands, the forthcoming sequel to my debut novel Into the Badlands. I’ve been through three covers, but now I think I’ve nailed it. I thought I’d put them out here for posterity and to show what I think was a gradual transition toward the best cover.

First off, here’s the cover from my debut novel, Into the Badlands:

I’ve remained pretty happy with that cover and the feedback has been mostly positive.

For the sequel, Beyond the Badlands, this is the first cover I came up with:

I liked this image, but upon further scrutiny I decided it didn’t look ominous enough for a post-apocalyptic, “zombie” horror novel. So I instead opted for this image:

I liked this image better, mostly due to the scrubland surrounding the road and the ominous black clouds in the distance. I also thought those dark skies projected a gloomy feeling, much like my first book’s cover.

That cover stuck for months until I stumbled randomly upon another image during an unrelated search. When I saw it, it was Zen. I immediately knew it was my cover.

What I like about this cover is that it shares a theme similar to the first book’s cover, providing the impression that the two books are related in a series. It also contains elements of the story within the imagery.

In the end I’m glad I ran across this image, although I wish it would have been the first one I’d found. I suppose all things creative have an evolutionary process and when it’s all said and done I’m not going to get too concerned with twenty or thirty dollars. If the sequel sells as well as the first book has I’ll make that money back in less than a day.

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