Should you or shouldn’t you purchase a new cover? That is the question. A good cover isn’t cheap.
Here’s how to determine the answer:
- Does it portray your genre?
- Is it working? Is it bringing readers to your book?
- Do your reviews reflect that?
A hard-edged thriller cover should be a stark as the content. A fantasy cover should let the reader know whether it’s epic/mythic (landscapes, castles, swords), urban (edgy, usually dark, street views), heroic/tolkienesque/arthurian (pastoral, swords, magicians), historical, or a combination thereof. (Two of my favorite authors write a mix of heroic and urban fantasy, quite successfully). Mysteries should convey whether they’re ‘cozy’ (small town, armchair, teapot) or hard-boiled, noir, or police procedural (dark and edgy).
Many books convey some or many of these elements, but they aren’t the main focus.
For example, one of my books is a mystery with thriller elements and an edge. There is a romance in it but as part of the story, not the primary plot. Unfortunately, while the cover was dark-edged, at the center was a couple. To many readers, it came off as a romance with a touch of mystery, rather than a hard-boiled mystery with a little romance.
And it showed in the reviews. The comments weren’t direct – unless you viewed them from the viewpoint of romance readers expecting something lighter.
So here’s my suggestion…covers aren’t cheap, so shop around. Look at what the cover artist has to offer. If 99% of their samples are fantasy or romance, they may not be a good fit for your book. A cozy mystery about a chef won’t work well with a cover that features a couple in a torrid embrace. Try a good pre-made cover. Most pre-mades are the cover artist trying out different things or promotion for their work. Some are really good. They’re not free but they are cheaper than custom made. That will allow you to publish your book while you search for another, better one, and save the money to purchase it.
Or, you may find that pre-made cover works perfectly.
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When last I posted, I didn’t know what the new cover would look like. I loved the old cover and wasn’t sure what to expect from the new cover. I didn’t know if that cover I loved so much could be matched.
It was not only matched, it was exceeded, and I’m not the only one who thinks so! What do you think? Isn’t it incredible?
I said then that I would name the cover artist when I saw the new cover.
Major Kudos to the folks at Damonza.com!
You can find the new edition at Read More »
“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison
So, like most writers, that’s what I did.
I love fantasy but I’d run out of books I wanted to read, stories of action, adventure, magic and – yes – passion. Something between Stardust and Game of Thrones. I love Gaiman’s mix of adventure and romance, and I loved G. R. R. Martin’s political intrigue and action. What surprises and puzzles me is the criticism I get for putting moments of positive romance/sex in my books, but no one has a problem with Martin’s incest/rape storylines. (I understand why he did it, btw.).
What I didn’t want were helpless heroines who needed to be rescued. I wanted strong, capable heroines like the Queens in real life. No one could say that Elizabeth I was a shrinking violet, that Catherine the Great didn’t earn that honorific, or that Victoria wasn’t able to lead her country through difficult times. Or Elizabeth II for that matter. And while some did it alone, others found a partner to stand beside them.
I wanted to write about the price of rule, the sacrifices good rulers have to make for the sake of the people they serve.
I wanted to write about people who struggled to find balance, who succeeded or failed, the repercussions of their actions, and – for one character – his redemption.
In other words, people you could know or relate to, people you could care about. Or hate.
That’s what I wrote. Whether I succeed or not, I’ll let you decide.
What inspired me to write the book? The statues of Nike of Samothrace and another called Night Descending – it was as if she was coming to a landing – and suddenly the first chapter was there in my head. I had no idea what would happen next, I just followed that winged muse until the story was written.
So I gave it to an editor and went in search of cover.
At that time, it was difficult to find a good cover artist – so I made my own. I once was and still am a portrait artist, but with so many selfies, there’s less demand. Apparently, I was a good enough cover artist, my first cover for Song of the Fairy Queen won an award. Unfortunately, it just didn’t quite convey Kyriay’s sheer badassery, her strength and courage.
By that time, the Coming Storm fantasy series and Song of the Fairy Queen were doing well enough that I could afford to invest in professional covers. So I hired a company to do one. Their covers were amazing, including a few by other writers I knew. It was a lot of money for me at the time, but once I saw what they created for me, I knew it was worth it. That cover was perfect.
So, imagine my sinking heart when, after nearly seven years, someone told me that the same image was on another cover. I knew it was stock art and anyone can buy stock images, but mine had been chosen for this book and the other cover was almost an exact copy except for the title. In a way, it’s a compliment to my good taste in covers, but it might explain some of the confusion about elements of the book – the other author writes for a younger audience, or at least that book was.
I was heartbroken. That cover was so good. And I’d paid what was for me, at the time, a lot of money for it.
All that aside, the person who’d brought it to my attention asked if I or the cover artist knew the image had been used on another book and was it proprietary?
I thought the cover artist had the right to know so I emailed them. I explained to them that I would understand if it was a stock image.
They told me it was, but if I wanted a new cover they would create a new one for me for a discount.
Now that’s class and professionalism. (I’ll name them with kudos once I see the new cover.)
At first, though, I have to be honest and say I resisted. I loved that cover. It’s so good, so right for the book.
The quality of their work, though, is incredible. (They’ve come up with some other covers for me since then.)
Given that quality and that they offered a new cover at a discount, made it impossible to turn down.
Now I can’t wait to see what they come up with this time!
Song of the Fairy Queen – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004774N2S
For all my books – https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Douglas/e/B0036POJZI
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Writers are frequently told to write what they want to read. I want to read fantasy for grown-ups – in other words for people over age twenty-one. I want to read fantasy where people have complex, healthy relationships and *gasp* sex. Not G.R.R.Martin sex where incest and rape are the primary forms – nothing against George R. R., and I get what he was saying about the culture. On the other hand, in the medieval period, people did have good relationships. There were arranged marriages but they actually and frequently turned out to be long, happy and monogamous. It would be good to show that, too, as a reflection.
Even in ancient times love, marriage and sex were often portrayed well. In ancient Egypt, marriage was an essential rite in their canon, and statues of important figures often included both husband and wife. As an example, there are Isis and Osiris. When Set killed Osiris Isis searched for his body and resurrected him. Gaia has a similar
They say 50% of all marriages fail but that also means that 50% succeed. Happy marriages do exist and have happened. There are plenty of examples, especially of those who struggled against enormous odds. A story on StoryCorps on NPR resonated with me particularly. It told of a couple – he’d been a soldier in WWII – that were devoted to each other. They wrote each other love notes even after decades of marriage. And everyone has heard family stories of a husband and wife so closely tied that when one died, the other followed within hours. I think of my neighbor, who had known his wife from the time she was fourteen. They were inseparable until the day she passed, and he misses her every minute of every day. Yet the stories he tells of her and their time together are always positive. If they had times where they struggled, he’s forgotten it.
They lived, they loved, and they expressed that love.
In this day and age, with so many negative examples, it’s not such a bad thing to show the positive side – to show two people of any type of sexuality, who love, honor and respect each other, and to allow us as writers or readers to see and share that.
Those are the kinds of books I want to read and the kind that I write. Flawed people, going through difficult times, who grow to care about each other, to respect each other, and who simply won’t give up on each other.
Song of the Fairy Queen
Also available on Kobo, Nook, and Apple iBooks
The Coming Storm/A Convocation of Kings/Not Magic Enough/Setting Boundaries
Servant of the Gods/Heart of the Gods
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Also available on Kobo, Nook, and Apple iBooks