Creating a Book Cover: The Ghost Machine

A good cover alone doesn’t make a good book.

I’d wager there are plenty of books out there with gorgeous covers that were quickly forgotten because the story inside didn’t live up to the captivating image on the front. But on the flip side, amazing stories go overlooked everyday because the cover is ugly or bland.

A cover has a critical job: to get readers to pick up the book.

As an indie author, I have complete control over my covers. This is great, because I won’t end up in one of those situations where the publisher chooses an inaccurate or just plain bad cover, and the author can’t do anything about it. This is also terrible, because I’m a writer, not a designer or marketer, and I don’t always know what type of cover will sell best. And I pay for the cover up front, so if the book doesn’t sell, I don’t get that money back.

What I’m trying to say is this: trying to figure out the best cover for your book can be… stressful.

Stressed Gif

Usually, I have no clue what I want on the cover, and I have to frantically brainstorm as I near the end of the book. The one exception is The Ghost Machine.

I call The Ghost Machine a gothic steampunk novel, because while it has a steampunk setting with airships and automatons, a lot of the story elements come from gothic romance. And gothic romance covers have a certain look to them:

Gothic Romance Covers

You may have noticed a few trends. We’ve got our young woman in a flowing white nightgown (or sometimes a dress) who’s either running away from or standing inside of a creepy mansion, castle, or other old building. And everything is dark and atmospheric.

Okay, so I know what I want: Ella in her lacy white Victorian nightgown, with either Auttenberg or the baron’s castle in the background. But wait. The Ghost Machine isn’t just a gothic romance novel—it’s gothic steampunk, so I need some robots or airships on there, too.

I went to Fiona Jayde for the cover redesign when I relaunched the book, and she offered me a few different choices when it came to images of ladies in white nightgowns, robots, and gothic architecture. I picked my favorites, and she pulled them all together into this beautiful design:

Ghost Machine Cover

I love everything about it, from the dark purple to the gears on the side that make it perfectly clear this is steampunk even if you miss the automaton looming in the background. I think it blends the elements of gothic and steampunk just as well as the novel does.

So what are your favorite book covers that you’ve seen recently? Any opinions on the covers of my books? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Published by

Kristen Brand

Kristen Brand writes speculative fiction with lots of action, witty banter, and a bit of romance. She loves comic books and all kinds of superhero media, and she's probably drinking tea right now.

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