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How NOT to Design a Book Cover

Back when I self published A. D. 62: Pompeii, I knew nothing about branding or marketing (obviously!) and I did everything on my own. This was my initial cover design:

Readers told me this looked like a textbook. Well, of course. I was a college professor.

When I published the Kindle version, I did this version (I call it my bodice-ripper). This is bad in other ways - obviously I'm not good at Photoshop.

These aren't the worst book covers ever made, but they are amateur efforts and not inviting to potential readers.

A search for "bad book covers" on the web yields amazing results. My personal favorite is one for Anne of Green Gables done by a designer who obviously had not read the book (as in... Anne is a red head, and not a nymphette):

The title for my first novel was also a mistake. I wanted Pompeii in the title, and at the time, it seemed important to have my book early in alphabetic lists of titles. When I edit and re-release it, the new title will be "The Storyteller".

I learned so much from writing my Pompeii novel. I'm still fond of it, and someday I plan to go back and make revisions (and have a professional design a better cover). I left Miranda and Marcus in a situation with lots of potential for sequels - they have not yet experienced the great fire in Rome, the persecution of the Christians, or the eruption of Vesuvius; and there's a love-stricken gladiator lurking in the wings.

I plan to do many things differently as I work on Journey of Souls. I'll hire a professional editor and book cover designer. I will try to go the traditional publishing route with this one, but I'll self publish if that does not work out (I know it's a long shot).

I would love to have a cover that has the dreamlike feel and detail of Kinuko Craft's design for the cover of Marian Zimmer Bradley (and Diana Paxton) Priestess of Avalon:

My wish is an adaptation of the pre-Raphaelite painting (below) by Maria Stillman. The dress is not 13th century, but this is the way I picture Christine.

I learned that editing and book cover design are jobs for professionals!

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