An Inside Look at the Cover Process for the Middle Grade Adventure PIRATE ISLAND
by Katie L. Carroll
One of the coolest things about being an indie author is having total control over your cover art. It’s also terrifying! A cover is one of the most important parts of a book, giving readers their first impression of the story. Anyone with a basic computer skills can create a cover, but not everyone can create a good cover…never mind a great cover.
When it was time to figure out what I wanted for the cover of my middle grade adventure PIRATE ISLAND, I knew I wasn’t going to do it myself. I am not an artist or designer and felt it would be best to hire a professional. After browsing through a ton of recent middle grade titles, I decided that I wanted a piece of original artwork.
But who would I hire to do that? I’m not a publishing house with a big budget and a pool of talented artists waiting to work with me. So I stuck with the contacts I have. Illustrator Susan Tait Porcaro (susantaitporcaro.com) had one of my favorite illustrations in THE GREAT CONNECTICUT CAPER, a collaborative middle grade mystery created by 24 different authors (I wrote chapter 2) and illustrators.
I contacted Susan about PIRATE ISLAND, she was interested in the project, and her rates fit my budget. We set up a timeline, signed a contract, and Susan got to work. I had to provide her with more information about the book itself and gave her some of my thoughts about what kind of cover I had imagined, including details about Billy, the main character; the setting; and the mood of the book.
Susan got to work on a black-and-white character sketch and sent it to me to review. There’s nothing quite like seeing a character I created in my head come to life as an illustration. We discussed changing Billy’s expression and posture. She sent more sketches that incorporated those changes and added setting details. The cover concept was becoming a reality.
Then came color! Susan thought a vivid sunset with lots of orange would make for a striking color scheme, and I was totally on board with that. Then I got to see a full color illustration of just Billy. Once we settled on all the little details about him, next came the details for the setting.
When I got a look at the near final cover image, tt was love at first sight! I thought Susan had really nailed the mood I was looking for, and she did it in such a striking way.
The final details included font and color for the title and author name. Then for the paperback version, I had to provide her with the proper size and finalized jacket copy. That took a little work on my part because I had to make sure I knew how many pages the actual book was going to be. And I had to make sure I had written a compelling teaser for the back of the book that would encourage readers to pick it up.
I couldn’t be happier with the cover Susan created for PIRATE ISLAND. The concept of it was a collaborative process between the two of us, but it took the creativity and vision of a truly skilled illustrator to take that concept and turn it into a gorgeous book cover that offers an enticing promise to readers about the story inside.
PIRATE ISLAND blurb:
A thrice cursed island, a legendary pirate treasure, and one not-so-brave boy. What could possibly go wrong?
For centuries, the whereabouts of Captain William Kidd’s lost pirate treasure has remained a mystery. When Billy’s best friend, Andy, proposes they look for it on nearby Pirate Island, Billy thinks it’s just another one of their crazy adventures. It’s usually Billy who ends up in trouble as a result, but he goes along for the ride…like always. The more he delves into the life and death of Kidd, the more he thinks the treasure is real and that it might be buried on the small island in Long Island Sound. Billy—nope, call him William—becomes obsessed with the captain of the same first name. He even believes he’s possessed by Kidd’s restless soul. Now he and the spirit of a long-dead pirate are leading the crazy adventure on Pirate Island. And what they find is far bigger than the treasure they imagined.
Available October 2017! Add PIRATE ISLAND on Goodreads.
About the Author:
Katie L. Carroll always says she began writing at a very sad time her life after her sister Kylene unexpectedly passed away. The truth is Katie has been writing her whole life, and it was only after Kylene’s death that she realized she wanted to pursue writing for kids and teens as a career. Since then writing has taken her to many wonderful places, real and imagined. She has had many jobs in her lifetime, including newspaper deliverer, hardware store cashier, physical therapy assistant, and puzzle magazine editor. She works from her home in Connecticut that is filled with the love and laughter of her sons and husband.