Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Right Cover Art Can Make or Break

Finding the right cover to represent a book is a daunting task. Now that I'm indie publishing my backlist books, I have an even greater respect for cover artists who can translate the tone and drama of a complete novel into a snapshot image that makes people want to grab the book.

As much as writers like to think our writing can stand on its own, the right cover can (and does) make or break a well-written book. The words inside the cover might be golden, but no one will ever know that if the reader isn't enticed to pick up the book in the first place.

Neptune's Lair, a paranormal romance I penned in 2006, has been published several times and each time has been given a new cover. None of them quite worked...until now.

Come see the many faces of Neptune's Lair.

First, the premise:

Spunky Dallas St. John wants the perfect life and to get it she needs the perfect job. So what is she doing kissing a complete stranger in an alleyway when she's late for her interview for that once-in-a-life-time opportunity? 

She must be losing it, but oh what a delicious way to go down. A fortune teller has warned her that falling in love would be dangerous. The woman didn't know the half of it. Not only has getting involved with this hunky sex god thrown her career goals off-track, it's thrown her world upside down. She's having sexual escapades in her sleep. Her new lover is taking control of her in the bedroom. And an unworldly force is threatening to devour her soul. What's a girl to do, but enjoy the ride!

When it was first published by Venus Press, it was part of a series originated by Venus Press. And to show that all the books (by various authors) where part of this same series, all the books were given the same cover.
Actually, I really liked this cover. Who wouldn't like a hunky guy in bed? But it didn't let the reader know that they were about to read a paranormal romance.

I think readers like this cover, too. Sales boomed!

After Venus Press (sadly) closed shop, I resold the book to Whispers Publishing. Whispers is a great publisher. I was so happy to land there when my career was in flux. Their editorial staff is top-rate. I recommend them to any writer. That said, I was never that happy with this cover. While it made you think that something magical *might* be happening, it just didn't capture my otherworldly hero and his attachment to the water.

I think the readers never connected with this cover. Sales slowed considerably, despite good reviews.

When my contract with Whispers expired, the indie publishing world was just starting to take off and I wanted to give it a try. So I made my own cover.
I liked the sassy woman on the cover and the watery background. But oh boy, it does look homemade. And I just didn't think it captured the magical element of the novel.

This cover didn't connect with the reader either. Sales slowed even more...

So I tried again.
Hunky guy? Check.
Magical energy? Check.
But still...Something is missing.
The font looks homemade (it was).
I kept this cover for less than a month, so I can't speak to sales. But I knew it could be better. This is a professionally written and edited book. It deserves a professional cover.

So I purchased a professionally made cover.

This cover came from Razzle Dazzle Designs. And I think they captured the tone and magical feel of Neptune's Lair perfectly. Dallas is about to step into a new world. She's confident, sexy, and a powerful heroine worthy of her powerful water-world hero.

I look forward to seeing what happens to sales. I have a feeling that I'll have good news to report soon!

Neptune's Lair is on sale for $0.99 everywhere ebooks are sold.

Bottom line: Don't be afraid to try out different looks for your book. It might take several attempts to get the cover that will BEST represent your book and entice readers to pick up/download your story.

What do you think about these covers? Do you have a favorite?
Authors, have you fiddled with your cover art? Has trying out new covers been successful for you?


Dorothy McFalls writes steamy (and sometimes sweet) romance.

She also writes as Dorothy St. James penning the White House Gardener Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. Flowerbed of Stateis the first book in the series. Be sure to grab your copy while they're still available! Visit with Dorothy on the webor at Facebook. Or follow her on Twitter.

"Credible characters, a fast-paced plot, and a light look at political life in Washington, D.C., will delight cozy fans."Publishers Weekly
"This spunky new romantic suspense series is an obvious pick for readers who enjoy Julie Hyzy's "White House Chef" series (Buffalo West Wing), but also think of gardening mystery series such as Rosemary Harris's (Slugfest)." ~ Library Journal
Order Flowerbed of State from your favorite bookseller. 

Order The Scarlet Pepper from your favorite bookseller. 


"The second story in this series does not disappoint.... Once you start to read this story you will have a hard time putting it down. Can't wait for volume three." ~ reader review from JudiOH

"The Scarlett Pepper is the second book in The White House Gardener Mystery series. And a very enjoyable addition it is....Looking forward to reading the next book to she how Casey and Jack handle becoming "better friends", if Casey can begin to get closure on her parents deaths when she was a child and of course being a dog lover, looking forward to more tidbits on the First Dog." ~ reader review from F. Yoder

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