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Cover Story: Nightmare Tenant/Foundations

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is the traditional adage; however, in today’s self-published and digital world, it’s increasingly idealistic and out of date. In this post I want to go over some of the behind-the-scenes design choices I made when commissioning the Nightmare Tenant cover, and that of its companion book and prequel, Foundations.

Comparison Titles and concept

The first step was to look at my genre and identify some comparison titles for an idea for how I wanted. It’s important to look along your virtual “shelf” to see what comparable books in genre look like so what is commissioned is not incongruous – there’s conventions and standards within each genre that should be acknowledged.

For instance, rainbows and butterflies would not have been appropriate for Nightmare Tenant:

  • Incongruous to the feel and vibe of the story; ergo this could deceive the reader
  • Incongruous to the genre conventions I had identified; the book just wouldn’t sit right as a horror book

I found two such books on the Amazon store when researching my genre that I felt would be great inspiration for the Nightmare Tenant cover:

Book cover comparisons and the Nightmare Tenant concept

I then thought about how I would like my cover to look before creating the roughest of rough concepts.

It was at this point I commissioned Les (aka GermanCreative) to design and create the final cover. We discussed what elements to use and what stock images to use to create the photo-manipulated cover but beside my concept and picking images, I left the “design” largely to her to realise and visualise, based on my concept and the comparison covers.

Adjustments

When I received the first version of the cover I was beaming from ear-to-ear as I was so pleased with how Les had transformed my concept and comparison covers. The added elements – the textures, backgrounds and effects really sold the effect and vibe of Nightmare Tenant and I was pleased that she had gone above and beyond in adding those details.

However, I didn’t immediately accept the first version – I took a day or so to digest and look at it critically before calling it done.

I showed the cover to a couple of author friends who were impressed. But beyond a few minor tweaks – such as moving the Nightmare Tenant title slightly lower, there wasn’t significant changes.

High-res vs low-res

The high-resolution, full size cover image of Nightmare Tenant looks fantastic; so much so I have an art print of it in my office. However, an important note is that is not how a large amount of people will view it.

First version of the Nightmare Tenant cover as resized to Amazon’s display size (desktop)

When I received the initial version, one of the steps I took when considering my revision was to resize the image to the size at which it is displayed on Amazon.com. This was a crucial step – when viewing it at this resolution I noticed that the author name simply wasn’t prominent enough. Why is this important? My author name is my brand so it is important that it is prominent and legible at the resolution that readers will see it on the web when browsing or scrolling – I only have perhaps a fleeting moment to grab their attention in that time so it’s crucial that everything important on the cover is legible.

Nightmare Tenant Amazon search result with the amended cover

These two corrections were made without incident to my satisfaction and the final cover is one I am immensely proud of.

Comparison of the first version (left) and final version (right) covers for Nightmare Tenant

Foundations

Foundations is the free reader magnet I currently give away to subscribers to my newsletter. It also serves as a standalone prequel/introduction to Nightmare Tenant.

I went to the expense of commissioning a cover for Foundations because, even as a free reader magnet, it deserved to be treated as “seriously” as a full paid release. This is the book I use to introduce readers to my author community and it’s an important marketing tool for that reason.

The cover design process was streamlined; as it was a companion to Nightmare Tenant I used a lot of the motifs and layouts to tie the pair of works together visually and graphically.

I did have a late change to the imagery; the initial image with the party scene on the bottom half of the cover just didn’t quite gel for me so I had it swapped out for the crypt scene which I feel worked much better.

When it comes to book cover design – whether covers I design myself or commission, attention to detail is key for not only getting the effect you want but in maximising exposure of your author brand – you may only get one opportunity to “wow” a particular set of eyeballs and those first impressions – and making them memorable – really do count.

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Announcements, Writing

Nightmare Tenant is the Tuber Book Club pick for May 2022!

I’m thrilled to announce that my novella Nightmare Tenant has won the vote as discussed previously to be the May 2022 pick for the Books by Adrian Tuber Book Club!

After an energetic campaign, my book won with a massive 49% of the vote! I’m thankful and grateful to everyone who chose to support both my book and Adrian’s new book club initiative; they’ve just finished with Blindspot by Kent Shawn and it’s a great format.

The Books by Adrian Tuber Book Club will be discussing and dissecting the first half of Nightmare Tenant on May 24th 2022. Click below to sign up to my newsletter to find out the latest information!

Announcements, Articles

Vote for Nightmare Tenant in the Tuber Book Club!

I’m really excited to announce that my horror thriller novella Nightmare Tenant has been nominated to be the second book read as part of the Books by Adrian Tuber Book Club, following on from Blindspot by Kent Shawn in April.

The Tuber Book Club is a new initiative by Books By Adrian (AKA Adrian Santiago) author platform. Adrian is doing some great things for the community in the online space with his platform, which features a diverse plethora of guests on his livestreams and podcasts.

The Tuber Book Club is a new but exciting twice-monthly stream where a panel of guests discuss the book in question with an active chat participating in the comments. It’s a lot of fun and it’s very worthy of supporting as Adrian continues to grow in stature. Authors cannot feature on the panel if their book is featured but are welcome into the text chat and, should I win, I’ll be there and more than happy to chat to you!

This is a fantastic opportunity for Nightmare Tenant and I’d be thrilled if you could support the book by both joining Adrian’s book club and voting for Nightmare Tenant with this easy two-step process:

  • Join the Tuber Book Club by clicking the button above to go to Adrian’s website. All you need to enter is your Name and Email Address
  • Confirm your subscription; then you’ll be sent a link to vote. You must be a member to vote or your vote will not be valid.

You’ll also hear from Adrian about the live events you can participate in if you choose to.

The poll remains open up until May 2nd 2022 so there’s still a few days to get your vote in! Every vote counts as the poll is close (with Nightmare Tenant jostling for position) so please don’t underestimate how much your vote can support my book and my passion.

If you do choose to support Nightmare Tenant I am eternally grateful and appreciative of the support, and I look forward to seeing you in the live chat.