When the manuscript was off with my editor, I used that time to begin researching cover ideas. A cover is the first thing a reader sees and it has to draw them in to investigate further. Therefore, it is one of the most important parts of a book. Start as you mean to finish, and get your cover professionally designed. I can’t stress this enough.
I am lucky in that I have worked as an illustrator/graphic designer for over twenty years. I can serve double duty, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should do this. Besides, at the moment, who knows the story better than me? Use your knowledge of your story to your advantage and inform your graphic designer about any themes or images you would like to see. If you find examples of covers that you like, let your graphic designer know. The graphic designer will often riff off those ideas and come up with something even better.
What I like to do is Google a thematic image, in this story’s case a person holding a handgun. Google Images is great for this and often I will spin off into other ideas. When I find some images that I like, I’ll make a sketch of the cover, but I’ll leave that for my next post.