If you’ve ever seriously contemplated writing and publishing a book, likely one of the primary thoughts driving you through the process was how the book would look as a finished product sitting there in all its literary glory on the bookstore shelf! And why not? One goal of most every writer is to get a story out to the world, and that book’s cover is the world’s first glimpse of your message! Of course, that means it’s also the most likely thing to persuade them whether or not to buy your message and read your story. Therefore, although the evolution of a book’s cover is in many ways inspired by its author and content, it is often influenced even more by the target audience and how to market to them.
From the early days of writing, I’d always had an idea in my doctor brain of a band-aid “healing” common pop-culture and medieval misconceptions about the biblical afterlife, so I was a bit surprised when my publisher had a cover designer generate several different fronts for Healing Hereafter that were quite unlike anything I was envisioning. However, as I’m not exactly an art or marketing expert, it was good for me as an author to explore why varying visuals for the theme of the book might be helpful or appealing to others. And because I was self-publishing, the designer also put together a preliminary design of my idea also, much to my delight!
My team and I sifted through our options, including a rather enjoyable but involved process perfecting the back cover info as well, which I learned rivals the front cover in marketing significance for many reasons (can’t tell—super secret trade secrets!). I tried to be as objective as possible, but I gotta admit, it was hard not deviating toward the realization of the cover image I had stored in my noggin for so long! Ultimately, it came down to two covers, the one you see above and—imagine this—Jesus stepping on a demon while reaching out to help some old dude that looked kinda like Socrates from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, all superimposed on colorful triangles. Clearly band-aids trump Greek philosophy and geometry every time, so whether my team really thought it was good marketing strategy or were simply conceding to an author’s dream (I think both), I more or less got the cover I always wanted. They touched up both the front and back in some snazzy, creative ways, and the book was officially finished!
Now in all honesty, there were both professional and logistical bumps on the cover design road that would have been much worse in the traditional publishing world—where an author has essentially no control over the cover at all. It’s apparently harder than you’d think getting a cover just right. However, once I finally held up that unique, perfect, hardcover copy of Healing Hereafter for the first time (there is only one of them in existence after all, and it’s mine!), it was a satisfaction of biblical proportions! The only teensy, weensy item left on the publishing to-do list? Getting copies into everyone else’s hands…