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Magic Behind the Cover

Wonder how Hidden Magic got its cover?

Well before I got to the design process of production I did my best to come up with an idea for the cover.  It might be pretty obvious, but the title has a HUGE influence on the imagery that comes to mind when you are brainstorming a book cover.

This book actually had TOO MANY different titles to count before "Hidden Magic" arrived. Thankfully my dear friend and High School Freshman English teacher Mrs. Leggett gave me some valuable opinions about the book included the title: Beyond Sight.

"It's too cerebral," she told me. It didn't give the reader a good sense of what the story was really about and I agreed. She suggeseted something along the lines of "Portals & Magic" along with providing some great notes on the story. I already knew that "Portals & Magic" felt too plain to me but she was right, and it didn't take me long to realize that the core of the plot was the title I was looking for: the magic concealed inside Nicole is the catalyst for everything. Thus Hidden Magic.

I submitted my manscript, titled "Hidden Magic" to the publisher and they thought that it was perfect for the story, but they felt that a subtitle was needed to give potential readers a little more of a hook. "The Portal Opens" was their suggestion and I agreed. After thinking on other possible subtitles, I decided there wasn't anything better, so my book became "Hidden Magic, The Portal Opens."

With the new title came new ideas for the cover. Well, ONE idea really. I couldn't come up with anything other than the concept of a visual representation of Nicole's magic. It was the source of the title after all, the source of the portal MENTIONED in the subtitle. Ultimately, I came up with colorized smoke and played with the idea, testing it on family and friends to see how they responded to it. When it came time to move on to cover design I sent my idea to the publishers.

Hidden Magic Cover

They didn't like it. I was told that the smoke/magic did not convey anything to do with the book, to come up with something else and to refer to their stock photo site which only has millions of photos. 

To tell you the truth I felt a little defeated, not because I was attached to my cover idea, but because it was the only one I had and I needed to come up with SOMETHING new. My problem was: I knew extensively what I DIDN'T want but had no idea what I DID want. I didn't want my book to look like all those other fantasy books with representations of the hero/heroine on the cover. As a reader there is nothing I dislike more than a book cover showing me what a character looks like. That's MY job, damnit.

Anyway...At the time I was working on my author website with a friend with a local (Yuma, AZ) web design business.

Fun Fact: Hidden Magic's cover was inspired by this website! While I was unsure what to do about my book cover, Matt and his team at MGM Design sent me a mock-up of the website. I was floored. It was stunning. Not only was it thrilling to see my very own website, but it was just beautiful. I was so ecstatic about it. Then it hit me, if my book cover looked anything like my website I would be supremely happy. So I thought "what the hell" and sent a picture of my website to my publisher.

They loved it. I had a phone consultation with Jess, my designer at iUniverse, and we agreed that the cover should be the forest setting from the book with a mysterious color scheme like dark blues and purples. She came up with  3 designs for me.


Mock-up #1: You might recognize the picture in this one.

Cover Mock Up 1

My thoughts: I LOVED the image, the trees were perfect. This WAS the forest as I always imagined it. The gold font for "The Portal Opens" was too fairy tale, and while I adore classic fairytales, that font made the book feel much younger, more like middle grade. Not to mention all those damn sparkles were going to scare away male young adult readers. The cover might as well have a princess riding a unicorn with all those sparkles.


Mock-up #2: More sparkles

Cover Mock Up 2

My thoughts: This cover was too dark overall for me. I wanted more balance with dark and light because that is at the heart of the story itself.  Again, the gold font seemed a little too juvenille to me. The thing with my publishing company was that the cover could only be glossy. That's it. Now my fellow bookworms know exactly what I mean here. In the world of books there are matte covers and glossy covers. There are raised fonts, metallic titles, and contrasting textures. I accepted that none of those tactile delights were available to me. But I just COULDN'T allow my book to be a poor imitation of what it could not be. I shuddered to imagine my book, with the illusion of gold lettering, sitting on a shelf beside  other books actually HAD metallic gold lettering. Nope. No way.


Mock-up #3: This one you will recognize the title fonts.

Cover Mock Up 3

My thoughts: Out of all the covers as they were, this one was  my favorite. It's a beautiful cover. But the story behind it wasn't what I had written. When I look at this cover (still) I see ROMANCE more than anything. Don't get me wrong, there is a strong romantic element in this story but it is a source of conflict for Nicole and it is by no means the driving force of the plot. This cover belongs in the romance section. Here is where I will sound like a crazy writer, but the biggest problem with this cover is the trees. Pine trees. A lot of my family and friends liked #3 in its entirity, but I just couldn't get past the pine trees. This forest was real to me, I have spent 10 years of my life there with Nicole, Raiden and Gordan, and there are NO pine trees.


Now with these three covers I went to everyone I could to find out which one they liked best and why. Ultimately, I had my  decision made but I still wanted to know how others recieved the different covers. I was allowed to mix and match the images and fonts, but it was hard for most people to see the cover when I told them to imagine the image from one and the title front from another.

I asked my production team if I could have the working files for the covers and to noone's suprise the answer was no. Haha. Nevertheless, Photoshop came to the rescue. I took cover #1, erased the title/subtitle and mended the image as best I could. (Got to love that Photoshop stamp tool.) Then I pirated the title  from cover #3 and changed the colors.  Lastly, I GREATLY reduced the number of sparkles.


Here is  my final Frankenstein cover mock up:

Final Cover Mock up


As you can see, that is pretty much exactly what you see on your copy of Hidden Magic. I absolutely adore the cover. But  I still have a tendency to tweak things myself when needed...notice anything different?


Updated HM Cover


Stay tuned for the next blog with ONE BIG annoucement...


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