In the world of indie-publishing, cover reveals are supposed to be a big deal. Authors take great pains to count down to their cover reveals, go on blog tours to announce them, etc., etc.
Not me. Not this time.
Personally, I’m embarrassed that I didn’t go for a more professional cover in the first place. I thought mine did a good enough job. I entered it in The Book Designer’s monthly cover contest and no less an authority than book designer Joel Friedlander said there was “absolutely nothing wrong” with it. He complimented the typography. However, he also pointed out that there was nothing particularly compelling about the cover, either. And noted that rocks didn’t exactly suggest a love story.
But since the book is not really a pure romance, that didn’t concern me too much.
(You see where I’m going with this, right?)
I’m trying to start this publishing career without wasting too much money. To me, my cover was good enough for a first foray into publishing (I think the stock shot cost me about $14 and I designed it on GIMP, which is free design software). I set type back in the bad old days of Compugraphic (no WYSIWYG back then), and I’ve been the product manager or acquisitions editor in a fair number of book cover meetings. So I figured that no, it was not a GREAT cover …but it was good enough.
I was crazy if I expected to hit gold with a debut novel, anyway. I was just going to live with it, and do some marketing now and then, and hope the addition of new titles eventually got me to the kind of critical mass of stuff that allows the kind of cross-selling that will eventually make this a profitable enterprise.
However, having such a great run on my free days and getting such a nice crop of reviews from them has made me a little more ambitious for this first title.
Also, once I made the decision to come out with the paper edition of this book — because too many people just don’t read Kindle and swear they will read it if they can please just have it in paper (we’ll see if that’s true) — I calculated thus:
- It really needs to come out well before Christmas (ideally at the beginning of November, but it’s too late for that).
- I’m teaching four composition classes. Four! With research papers!
- There’s no way I can format the book and create a decent-looking full cover for it and actually get it done before Christmas.
Ergo, I needed to hire some help. And at least this semester I have some money to pay for it. (I wasn’t expecting two of those four classes when I started out this summer.) So as long as I had to pay for help anyway, I went to the guy whose cover instincts I’ve been admiring for months — Damon Za. It took me awhile just to write up everything I needed for him, but once I did I sent it off and paid my deposit, and after a week or so I got three designs back, including the fixed up version of my own cover that I asked him to do as an option. (I was a little reluctant to throw out ALL my branding to date if I could find a way to make it work.)
One was an honorable attempt to cope with the busy rocks that screamed “this is probably stodgy literary fiction by a woman of a certain age,” so that one I never even showed anybody.
The other was a much improved version of the feet on the rocks with a better focal point and professional type treatment. But those rocks — oh, those rocks. They just make a terrible background for type.
And the third one was striking and sexy and just WOW.
I loved that third one right away — though it also made me a little nervous — but I ran it past my gang because you’re crazy if you don’t seek honest feedback from others in this business.
And of course the gang split.
Turns out a lot of them LIKE bare feet on rocks. Especially the guys, but not just the guys. However, the readers who are probably a little closer to my target demographic tended to go for the one I loved. And told me not to be nervous. Though I still asked Damon if he could do a little strategic blurring, which he did, so now I love it even more.
Of course, whether I love it is irrelevant. (And when I was an acquisitions editor, how dearly I wished my authors understood that.) The question is: Will it work?
Here’s the deal. Other than the text of the book itself, which is what it is at this point, I see everything I’m doing right now as an experiment. I put out a cover that worked pretty well, especially when the book was free, but not well enough to sustain full-price sales even with a lot of nice reviews racked up and a good ride on Amazon after my free days. Ads of the book at full price seldom got any clicks, no matter what the copy said. Which meant no curiosity was being excited by that cover.
So now I’ll try this one. It will either increase clicks and sales, or it won’t. If it doesn’t, I guess I’ll have learned something valuable.
But speaking as the product manager for my own book, I just think it’s a much better cover. It has excellent, uncluttered use of color and typography, and it has a focal point. As a reader you might wonder why this woman looks so tightly wound — which doesn’t actually literally fit the scene of the book from which this could be taken — but it captures the heroine’s problem at the beginning of this book perfectly. I also think this cover is an excellent, flexible design basis for the books yet to come.
Next time I’ll go straight to Damon Za right from the beginning (if I can afford him, anyway). So, here it is.
The paperback pages are getting final corrections right now, and I dearly hope it will be available on Amazon before the month is out.
Hate it? Prefer the rocks?
Go buy the e-book quickly and never delete it and reload it from your Amazon account, and you’ll have the old version!
Or, buy the PG-13 edition. (You can only get to that version with a precise search by title, or a link. Confusingly, the sales copy for that edition is exactly the same and warns you about the sex, but if it says PG-13 on the cover it ought to be the clean version. I do not understand the mysterious workings of Amazon in this matter, but with a grand total of three or four sales to date on that edition, I’m not going to worry about it either. That’s also why I don’t plan to change that PG-13 Edition cover. So if you want, get that one. You’ll have to give up a little sex, but that way you can, um, keep your rocks on. Yeah, I actually went there. Sorry.)