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  • Writer's pictureJ H Laing

Cover Design: First-Time Author Struggles

Updated: Jul 9, 2023

A man and woman embrace in spirit form. The man is a vampire and the woman is his human soulmate.
Original cover of my first book.


In coming up with the cover design for Bound: Tethered Souls Series, I really struggled with conveying to the artists what I was looking for. Being that I wrote a paranormal romance, one might have expected revealing flesh on the cover. Yet my intention for the design was to draw folks in with a clean cover and enticing title.

The drawings on the cover are the souls of my two main characters. By putting their souls on the cover, we still give readers a chance to create a visual in their minds of what Amber and Gabe actually look like in their “human” forms. As a reader, my preference is to create a visual of what characters look like in my mind without someone showing me what these characters look like. That’s one of the drawbacks of books to film. Once the characters from the film are on the cover, I battle with seeing them differently even if I had read the books first.

Designing the cover took some time, but I knew I needed to persist with getting it to a point where I would feel proud to hold it in my hands. Originally, I thought about not having any character visualization. However, I knew that I needed to represent some sense of a soul connection. The story I wrote has an element of reincarnation that brings Amber back to Gabe over the years since their first encounter on Tongva land at the San Gabriel Mission. Hinting at this being a vampire book was another important element to include, which is why there’s blood dripping from Gabe’s soul’s mouth. The upside-down city calls attention to this being a more contemporary paranormal romance as the setting is in Los Angeles. Asking beta readers and folks you trust for feedback along the way is also key in developing a cover.

While not being able to verbally convey what I envisioned in my mind, it helped to put what I saw in my head on paper, so I sketched souls intertwining as you can see by one of the draft covers below that I created using Canva.

Drawing in line form of a man and a woman embracing. Showing that they are bound.
Sketch of my original idea.

And although we went in a different direction, I am proud of what we accomplished together. As a first-time author, one can get paralyzed by revisions, always looking for perfection. And at some point you just have to let go and trust that it’s time to move on, because it’s worth getting that story out there, isn’t it?

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