1. I would use the three basic elements of my title: high heels, gumboots and cow pie.
2. I would not use the templates my print-on-demand publisher provided. Again, no pop, no spark. As a self-publishing, first-time author, it was imperative this cover SELL my book.
3. I'm not artistically or graphically talented. I needed serious help.
I designed a crude concept using pictures of a pair of black high heels and olive drab gumboots. Bill took a photo of me wearing my gumboots doing a foot-plant in a big cow pie. I surrounded the pictures and title with a barbed wire border, saved the concept in a Word document, then presented it to a graphic designer.
We brainstormed and decided to use pictures of my own shoes, conservative navy blue pumps, and boots. I wasn’t really comfortable with the boot-in-the-cow-pie picture, deciding it was just a little too crude for the cover. New photos were taken and here is the cover image.
A few weeks later, when Bill received an order of cattle protein tubs, we showed the cover picture to the company rep who sold and delivered the tubs. He is also a cowboy poet and has recorded a CD of his work. His assessment of the cover was “Bor-ing! Won’t sell books. You need a fire-engine red, six-inch stiletto heel on the cover to reach out and grab potential buyers from across the room, not a navy blue low-heeled pump.”
I was crushed! My cover was fantastic! The colors all worked! Not to mention I had never worn stilettos, although I once owned a pair of low-heeled red pumps. I couldn’t use a picture of a shoe I had never worn. It wasn’t me! My integrity as an author would be destroyed!
Something I had missed earlier when brainstorming with my graphic designer was that she very tactfully made the same suggestion. So tactfully, in fact, it sneaked right by me.