Or, Why I Changed the Covers for my Books
When the first copy of Time and Again: Charlotte of Miles Station arrived in my mailbox back in 2011, all colorful and shiny, with my very own name on it, I loved it. After all, it was my first-born child, and as you well know, there’s no such thing as an ugly baby. Lots of other people told me how pretty they thought it was too.
And then, a person whose judgment I trust told me it didn’t look much like a teen/young adult novel, and the stars in my eyes dimmed enough for me to assess the cover more accurately. I found that the cover wasn’t doing very well at telling readers that this is a book about tech-savvy college students who find a way to time travel back to the 19th century, experiencing some pretty mysterious stuff in their old house.
Instead, with the cover’s lovely golden colors the mood comes across all happy, or at most only mildly mysterious like maybe a cozy Agatha Christie story. Something my grandma would like.
So my satisfaction with the cover diminished, and every time someone complimented it, I thought thanks, but it’s not really right. But I didn’t have any choice but to accept the cover my publisher created for me. Or did I?
When I decided to go the independent, self-published route with the next two books, suddenly I had the wonderful freedom to do the whole book—including the cover—the way I wanted. I liked the freedom so much, I took the rights for Time and Again back from my publisher and independently republished a revised and totally updated second edition of it.
And I hired a professional cover designer to create coordinating covers for the three novels that would fit the story within. Here’s the list of requirements I gave my long-suffering cover artist. I told her the covers needed to:
- Attract teen readers…
- But not cause adults to shy away, because I have a substantial following with that group (including my grandma’s age).
- Convey the mystery and supernatural.
- Without falsely suggesting readers are going to find vampires or witches in the story.
- Let readers know weird stuff is happening in the old house.
- That involves time travel, and…
- Mirrors the plot’s juxtaposition of modern technology with history, while
- Conveying that the main character is strong and capable and
- Confident…But not smug,
- Happy…But not sappy,
- And young, but not too young. . .college age, actually.
- And thoughtful without looking depressed…
- Like a vampire…
- Or Calvin Klein model.
. . .While at the same time being beautiful, colorful, and coordinated.
Here’s what the cover artist came up with:
I think she hit the mark. Apparently customers think so too. Sales of the e-version of the first edition of Time and Again had been languishing for some time, but really took off when I published the second edition. This may be in part because I got to set a more reasonable price. (Yay, Indie publishing!) But I think another reason is that the new cover is doing the job it was hired to do.
I’d love to hear your opinion. Please leave a comment.
Time and Again and Unclaimed Legacy are available this very minute. Every Hill and Mountain will be released in April 2013. Sign up in my sidebar for V.I.P. Perks for insider information on its release, the behind the story story, and when my books will be free or reduced.
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