Writing Reflections

Cover Chaos

February 17, 2016

Finally! The new website is finished, and I can check one thing off my monster to-do list. At this point, I’ll take every accomplishment I can get. As to the rest of the book marketing and promotion I need to do, well, one bite at a time, right?

The most challenging issue that requires immediate action is the creation of a new cover for my book. This is a challenge that I obviously thought was resolved, but I was completely wrong. Apparently, my lack of experience bit me on the booty, and I’m enjoying a “live and learn” moment. Okay, so “enjoying” is a really strong word. The problem is the catch-22 related to cover design for a brand new author. To compete against thousands (pages and pages) of other books and actually sell books, it’s critical to somehow stand out and tempt buyers into clicking on your book title. After all, the best blurb in the history of the world won’t sell a single copy of the book if no one ever finds it and reads it.

For new authors with no name recognition, that means the best way to attract attention is to create (or buy) an eye-catching book cover. This is where I steered dramatically off course. The book in question is a historical romance, and anyone familiar with the genre knows that a huge chunk of book covers for historical romances include a man and a woman entangled in a passionate (or at least compromising) embrace. Second and third place numbers probably go to a lone woman in a gorgeous gown or a lone man in a striking pose, possibly (Gasp!) shirtless. You find the occasional scenic photo on a historical romance cover, but it’s certainly not the norm.

In a quest to avoid the “typical” cover styles, I pondered some of the key elements in my book, trying to come up with image ideas that would make a captivating cover. The result was the purple eye that appears on the first version of my book cover.

Mystery Lady Front Cover Paperback-First Edition 

I thought the eye was perfect. Originally blue, I changed the color to represent the unusual violet eye color of the heroine in the book. Beyond that, the overall look of the design was edgy and seemed to fit with the mysterious theme implied by the title.

Yes, well, I started communicating on Amazon message boards with some more experienced writers in the historical romance genre to find answers to a few questions I had, and many of them pointed out that my cover didn’t indicate to the reader that the book is a historical romance. Due to the edgy look, the consensus was that the cover indicated a thriller or paranormal novel or something in the young adult category. Yikes! Talk about bursting my bubble. I knew the cover was edgy, but I certainly didn’t mean to create the impression that the book was a completely different genre.

Once it was so blatantly pointed out, I could easily see that maybe I went a bit too far. So there it was, the nasty catch-22 of creating a cover. I need a cover that deviates from the norm and stands out from the crowd, but the cover still has to say, “Hey, I’m a historical romance!”, or my potential readers might skim right past it, regardless of an eye-catching cover, because they assume it’s something else.

I’m running ad campaigns that I’m afraid could suffer because of the poorly chosen first cover, so I have created a temporary revised cover that fits the theme. I say temporary because it’s an embracing couple that might not really stand out, but at least readers will know it’s a historical romance. I suppose it’s better than nothing while I wait for inspiration to strike on something remarkable and unique…and historical. Sigh… Feel free to offer advice.

Mystery Lady Front Cover-Second Edition-Blue-Blue

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