Friday, August 26, 2016

Cover Lottery

File covers under: You win some, you lose some. Sometimes all on the same cover(s). Book covers have a lot of jobs. Entice a reader to pick the book out of all the books on the shelves in order to read the back cover blurb. Convey what kind of read to expect - genre, tone, what have you. And hopefully, if you're really lucky, the cover will get the hero or heroines hair color right. Ish.

Wins on my first two covers: Really pretty. Amazing artwork. The heroines are mostly right. Ari's book (yellow one left) makes her far too put together for her particular circumstance, but oh well. Jayleia's cover (green below) gets her right.

The losses on these covers: Neither one says SFR. They both, to my eye, convey urban fantasy, instead. Compounding that problem? They were shelved in romance. Also, that background scene for Ari? Doesn't exist. No where in the books. Jay's background? Well. Maybe. There is a temple on her home world that gets attacked and she gets to be all bad ass about. So okay.

These covers came from a traditional house and when they were presented to me, there was very little room for alterations or changes.

The next two covers were also from a traditional house, but were for their E-book only imprint. Both were for urban fantasy novels, which I think they convey reasonably well.

I think you get UF from this cover. And maybe you get that the heroine isn't exactly a kick ass supernatural. She has skills, yes, but swinging swords or staking vamps might not be among them. The piece missing for me is a hint of magic - which really defines Isa's books. I do love that she's more than half dressed. But without the hint of something mystical, this could also pass as a cover for a cozy mystery. Which makes it not as cool as it could be. The only other issue is that this cover isn't all that great at conveying the tone of the story - the fact that there's some torture and overall angst. The problem is that ebook covers have to do all the work that print covers do - but they have to do it in thumbnail. That shit's HARD.
The second book in the series did a better job, I think.

In this cover, I got the hint of magic and with the background, I think you get a taste of this story not being all sunshine and roses. Maybe. So. Ebook covers - but ebook covers still presented by a traditional house with their own agendas and ideas about what changes might be made when and where. Which is to say - not many.

The really interesting cover, for me, is the most current one. It's for a light paranormal romance. The story was a complete departure for me. There are no dead bodies. Well. None that die on screen, anyway. It was my first venture into self publishing. Therefore the pressure I put on getting the cover right was enormous. I had several ideas for how the cover could look. In the end, I won a Twitter contest for a free cover from the awesome Danielle Fine. I told her my cover ideas.

She shot me right down. And explained WHY she'd nixed my cover. Her experience with romances novels and with paranormal in particular told us that paranormal readers expect the couple on the cover. Well okay. I was so relieved to have some guidance, I instantly sent over all of the particulars about Fiona and Darsorin. Danielle mocked up several different covers. We sat with them, hemming and hawing. I picked one I liked, but asked for a few changes in the hero. Discontent with the covers, Danielle went back to the drawing board and sent me a cover that made me gasp when I saw it because it was 100% right.

The characters are dead on. The single issue is that the flames surrounding them (while entirely appropriate to a theme that runs through the book) suggests this is a hot read. And it ain't. See. While Darsorin is an incubus and feeds on sexual energy, Fiona is asexual. So sure fire happens in the know. Anyway. I hope to heaven it's not misleading. Or if it is, the story is enjoyable enough as is. Because, boy, do I love this cover.

Given my druthers which cover process do I prefer? Oh, this last one. Hands down. Getting to strive for a cover that does the matches the story is a huge win. Even if it means brainstorming several times before you finally find the right fit - that was something that simply wasn't an option with any of the traditionally published titles. That isn't to say I wouldn't work with a house again. I would. For the right book and circumstances.  But there's a lot to be said for having control over the face your stories present to the world.

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