Chuck’s Book Cover Dilemma!

your humble host

My friend and fellow author Charles Waugh stops by to share some of his trials and tribulations in selecting the proper cover for his book.

It’s not always an easy process!

Read along and see what happens – and maybe how to avoid some problems.

We’ve all been there!


Working Cover Art to your Best Advantage

As an avid science fiction reader for many decades, I knew the importance of creating an eye catching cover that would get you second looks from readers browsing bookshelves or looking at thumbnail photos on Amazon.

CW Author Photo (1)
author Charles E Waugh

Well, now I had finished the first draft of my novel and it was off to the editor for a developmental edit. So what do you do next while waiting for the hammer to fall on your first creation? How about researching for a first rate cover artist to create just the right image to capture readers’ attention.

Searching the internet for a cover artist is very easy. Choosing the right artist is another story.

You have to know how much you are willing to spend, how soon you need the art for your publication schedule, and a good deal of luck.

After contacting four different artists with extensive portfolios, I settled on Duncan Long. His covers appealed to me on a gut level and he had an open slot for the work that was only six weeks out. We hammered out a price and now it was up to me to choose something iconic from my book that would attract attention and lend itself to good branding for the work. I thought I knew what I wanted, but I wanted to be sure, so I asked my primary beta reader what he thought should be on the cover. Fortunately, his suggestion matched mine so that decided the matter.

artists don’t necessarily have the time to read your whole book… give them just the scene you want depicted

I cut the appropriate chapter out of the book and sent it to Duncan in an email. Remember, artists don’t necessarily have the time to read your whole book in order to understand what they should be creating. You need to give them just the scene you want depicted with a description of your vision. Here is what I sent to Duncan:

I am looking for a picture of a 250-meter-high black pyramid resting just off of the north east shore of San Cristobal island in the Galapagos.  This pyramid is a planetary re-engineering module that landed at this site to begin changing the Earth’s environment to make it more compatible with the alien race working to take over the Earth.  Below is chapter 107 from the book that describes the landing.  Your thoughts about this would be appreciated.

The first draft of the artwork had all of the elements that I wanted…


the boat was going in the wrong direction around the island, so the image had to be reversed. Then the boat needed to be more suited to scuba diving so I found a picture of a dive boat on the internet and sent it to Duncan. Finally, I adjusted the story to match the picture where only the boat captain and character in the story were on the boat. More divers would have made the drawing too busy. Here is the result of all of the back and forth. Notice the amount of space left for the book title and author name in the upper part of the drawing. A good cover artist knows that this is needed.

CharlesWaugh-Esss Advance1h

Now the cover art needs to be incorporated into the cover design. For that, I used Lulu Publishing’s design staff. I sent them the artwork and they returned with a cover sample. I nearly blew my top. The design work was mediocre and the text on the back cover was completely changed from what I had submitted. So now what do I do?

After I cooled down a little,

I sent the cover to my cover artist and asked for his opinion on how to fix the design. Duncan was very accommodating and made several excellent suggestions, including increasing the size of the author name at the top and making the title name into a pyramid shape to match the artwork. Here is the result:


After correcting the wording on the back cover and fixing an error in the title on the spine (Lulu had put a comma between NU and Book1) we were ready to go.

The book was published and made available on all of the usual sources, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, etc.

It was time for the sales to skyrocket and the royalties to roll in.

Not. Sales were tepid at best and didn’t even cover the cost of the cover art. Now what do I do?

After thorough research, many marketing seminars, and a great deal of thought, I decided that I needed to switch my eBook publishing from Lulu to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) where I could run many promotions to get sales rolling in the right direction. However, that meant uploading the manuscript and the cover art to KDP and then altering the cover design to one of their standard templates. I tried several and chose the one that came the closest to the original cover published last October. Here is what it looks like now on Amazon:

charles waugh.jpg

Now the next chapter in this saga begins as I am about to relaunch the book under KDP. The original paper back is still available from Lulu Publishing under the original cover, but you can only get the eBook on Amazon. Stay tuned to see how my book sales fare under this new program.


CW Author Photo (1)
Charles E Waugh, looking spiffy

Charles E Waugh is a SciFi novelist with an astrophysics degree and a penchant for scientific accuracy. Nu Book 1 is the 1st of a trilogy. Chuck is a terrific writer and a great friend of the blog. Be sure to check our his new work! Click HERE to view his website. 

Here is the link to the newly released eBook:

The paperback version on Amazon:

Chuck’s Amazon author page:



Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages. From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry - or hang onto the edge of your seat - has been enjoyed by audiences around the world. And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time. “That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.” Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe. He will make you chuckle or shed tears, sometimes on the same page. His novels always contain twists and turns, and his nonfiction will stay in your heart forever. Dan resides in the Tampa area with his wife and daughter. You can find him blogging away almost every day on www.DanAlatorre or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week Writers Off Task With Friends. Dan’s marketing book 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew has been a valuable tool for new authors (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping other authors is evident in his helpful blog.

17 thoughts on “Chuck’s Book Cover Dilemma!

  1. Reblogged this on charlesewaugh and commented:
    Fellow author and friend Dan Alatorre was kind enough to have me as a guest blogger this morning. Here is his blog. If you are not following Dan, you might want to give it serious thought. He has great advice about writing and also a great sense of humor.

  2. I’ve lost your email somewhere. I want to start interviews on my blog, but I want to read your book first. I prefer that to generic interviews.

  3. Great advice. What I like to do is spend time surfing around photos that depict some elements I’d like in my cover so I can send them to my artist along with a short synopsis and blurb for her to get a feel for what I’m after. This saves her from having to start from scratch on the hunt by herself. 🙂

    1. Having some reference pictures to work from (or at least get things into the right ballpark) is always a big help to the artist. Be sure to note whether or not you own the copyright to material — if you do not, the artist can then be sure to create new versions that are similar, but which won’t violate any rights to the pictures.

  4. Charles E Waugh was a great client to work with. He knew what he wanted on the cover, and was patient in guiding the changes needed to make the art match his vision. For those who are interested, you can see more of my book cover artwork at:

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