Indie Cover Adventure

Many bumps and blessings down the road to indie authorship, one of the things I put the most effort into was my cover. The absolutely brilliant finished product bears no relation at all to my first efforts. I must have shot 20 covers before the final result, which was delivered right on time, with a wink of cosmic mirth.

The title of my novel really says it all. Two sisters have some serious issues to iron out. So then why did I use this as the first cover shot?

It made perfect sense to me. The older sister runs a coffee shop (called Sugar Shack, hence the name) from what used to be her grandmother’s house. When I put it on Facebook, one of my more blunt pals said “Reminds me of an old granny who smells like cat pee.”

He was right. I love old things, but the book has a chick lit meets wome’s fiction feel. There’s the chick lit sister and the women’s fiction sister. So parts are funny, parts are serious. I never know exactly what to call it. It’s not a romance. It’s not a literary novel. Not exactly a domestic novel either, but that comes closer. So my next concept tried to marry these different tones.

In case you can’t tell, that’s a martini glass and a tea cup. Because Ariel, the younger sister, wants Cher, her big sis, to turn her quiet little coffee shop into a full service restaurant. And since Ariel owns half the house, Cher has to pay attention to her. I thought this idea had potential but whatever title fonts I tried, nothing looked right. So then I thought, well, maybe something generic, without pictures. And I got this:

I really liked this cover, but neither it or the new title conveyed the sometimes irreverent tone of my novel. There was a cat in the book, an orange cat, much like my own dear Rusty. So that’s how this one came to be:

At this point, I had become desperate. So I asked my daughters-in-law for help. Alicia is a behind-the-camera type, but Jessica was game. I found the perfect picture of her, too. Drinking coffee:

I did some color shots of this too, but they felt too busy. Picnik will let you make any photo into a pencil sketch, but this felt a little light. Finally the title was right, but not the cover image. Which really didn’t matter because I received edits for another novel right in the middle of this project. So I put the whole thing on hold. After I finished my revisions for the other novel, my husband and I flew in to Ventura, California to visit our son Tim and his wife Alicia. We rented a car, drove the PCH1 through Big Sur and beyond, finally landing in Seattle, where Mike and Jessica live.

At some point we talked about the indie novel and my troubles with it (Mike had already coded it for me, I just couldn’t figure out a couple other simple things, like how to make quotation marks stay quotation marks. That won’t make sense to you until you upload your novel on the KDP platform.) Jessica had just returned from visiting her sister and she looked at Mike, and I swear there was a twinkle in her eye when she said “What about that picture of Meghan and me…” I immediately asked to see it and the rest is history. Well, the history of my first novel’s cover.

I returned from vacation, everything fell into place, the first font I tried from Picnik looked perfect, this was the cover I was meant to have and I’d had so many delays because it hadn’t existed yet. So if you’re currently struggling to DIY  the indie author way, don’t let frustration get you down. Take a vacation instead. Oh, and ask for help.


  1. This is a great example of staying with something until it’s right. Without knowing the story, I liked your first attempt. Now that I know more, I agree that you hit on the perfect combo of title and cover for the end product. It’s been an experience, hasn’t it?


  2. It really has. The idea that you make your own book from story to cover to installation on a digital platform like Kindle is appealing, but the process is not that of a traditional writer:)


  3. Lol. Writing a full length novel is difficult but (most of the time) fun. I love plotting and building characters. But I am no good at all with cover art as the above examples show:) I didn’t enjoy the process of taking photos–mine never come out clear, and ideas are off-kilter. After many failed efforts, I just lucked into a great picture, resized the dimensions, and slapped a title on.


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