Under the Covers with Double Happiness
If you haven't heard the news, my rom-com novella, Double Happiness, drops on Tuesday, February 14, AKA Valentine's Day! After a year of not publishing anything (womp womp, 2022), I promise that this year will be filled with excitement and joy. You might even say there will be DOUBLE the HAPPINESS of last year? Eh? Eh?
This is the cover for the book. Cute, right? Well, it took me 14 Procreate drafts and at least seven distinct covers to get to this point. I won't show you the first couple (they aren't fit for human eyes), but I'll show you the ones that almost made the cut, just because they weren't total poo.
Cover #1: The Cuties
I loved this cover for a few reasons. Their expressions, first of all. These were the first faces I did that didn't look like they'd slid off a poorly iced cake. The proportions are mostly right, they look attractive, and the hand-lettering isn't bad.
But here's what's wrong with it:
The pose. He's got his hands in his pockets (YAWN). And somehow, she's levitating behind him. What?
Their vibe. Why are they dressed like that? Is this an upmarket book? Hell no. They're supposed to be at a wedding, but nowhere did I provide hints of that, except with the floating double happiness symbol (but most people don't know that's associated with weddings anyway).
The leaves, hand-lettering, and colors. It's a bit drab and very DIY, and doesn't make sense. There is no magical forest moment, so the leaves were really just there to fill the blank space. Not thoughtful at all.
Overall, it was a cute start, but not the right cover.
Cover #2: The Youths
Ah, this one. Look at their bodies. So young and ripe. That's because I used a reference photo for their bodies, but completely made up their faces. Remember what I said about faces like poorly iced cakes? Yeah. Their eyes and eyebrows look like they were taped on willy-nilly, especially compared to their very precise bodies. They don't match. The colors are a bit too similar. The title font is bland and brings to mind blackboard chalk. No no no.
Also, at no point in the book does Steven actually pick Winnie up. This whole cover needs to be towed away.
It could eventually be salvaged, however. Maybe one day, for a different book.
Cover #3: The Scene
My early covers were too literal. This one is a prime example. There's a scene in the book when Winnie covers Steven's ears, which is how we ended up here, with Steven looking lovingly into Winnie's eyes and Winnie looking like she's killing a fly on his face, or anxiously moving a porcelain pot off a shelf. Look, I can prove it:
Anyway, lesson learned. Literal scenes are probably not the way to go. Focus on the vibe!
Cover #4: The Deep End
At this point, I doubted everything I'd done and wanted a fresh start. Something completely different, even the title! Which is how I ended up at The Sweetest Pickle. Get it, because the characters find themselves in a pickle? But the colors and illustration style felt off, and again, I went with the literal: there's a scene where Steven takes Winnie's olives away because she's had too many. To anyone who doesn't know that, the cover makes no sense. Why's he got olives when the title is The Sweetest Pickle?
I do like that the characters look more like themselves, though. Not too fancy like in the first and third cover, or too normie like in the second cover. We're getting somewhere.
Cover #5: Harebrained, Indeed
Taking my learnings so far (go less literal, focus on getting the vibe of the characters), I produced this. To save time (because I was getting tired of starting over and over), I used the same faces from cover #1. I kind of like how Winnie turned out cooler and slightly more tough-looking, but I think Steven looks like an awkward party boy, which is totally wrong. And the colors and title feel a bit YA to me, and this book is not YA.
I'm proud of that peach, though. A friend of mine said it didn't look peachy-enough, so I really focused on that peach until it became obvious. Small wins?
Cover #6 + 7ish: The Final Bend
I'll be honest: I stared at a lot of rom-com covers before realizing that I could just put the double happiness symbol front and center and put the characters around it. But once that idea popped into my head, I knew I was onto something good. The characters came naturally. There's some nice asymmetry between them, instead of the static poses in the previous covers. Originally, I wanted the Double Happiness title to appear doubled, but that made me think of twins, and this book is not about twins.
For the next, I took an idea from "Winnie's Harebrained Love Plot": in the background, Winnie's sister Nancy is getting proposed to by the other guy, Bradley. But my husband / former cover designer said it was akin to a pimple in the background. As soon as he said that, I realized that he was right. It really is a pimple. So I popped it and moved on.
Which is how I ended up with a more subtle background. Family photos. They're in the book. They fill the background. They're kinda cute.
We did it y'all! We got the cover! Which is a miracle, because I was seriously close to giving up and using a picture of a six-pack with a Double Happiness drawn on it or something. (J/K. But really, I'm tired.)
Check out this little video that Procreate outputs that shows you how I got from empty canvas to final cover!
If you're an author or aspiring cover artist, I hope this was helpful to you! Reviewing my journey was certainly helpful for me. I did my next book cover in only one try, though over three full days. I might redo it, but for now, I'm putting down the Apple pencil to write and edit.
Again, you can pre-order the book now and get it February 14th. Happy reading!