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 did manners become a bad word? When did behaving well turn into a bad thing? When did political correctness become a pejorative? Has the general negative attitude of this country permeated to all levels? When did it become more right to be cruel than to be kind?
There has been a ‘debate’, and I use that word very loosely, about a certain situation on Facebook that degenerated into name calling, unkindness, and worse. Bullying. The person involved was ganged up on by a large number of people. Even worse, since it was semi-public, a comment indicated it confirmed for some that Indies are the undisciplined writers so many assume us to be.
Now, you have to understand that I was in a similar situation. I paid a great deal for work to be done from a good, reputable site, and was shocked when it was brought to my attention that someone else had the exact same cover, created after mine was. Did I bad mouth them on Facebook, send nasty messages, etc.? No. I’m a professional. I contacted them in private, and they offered me a new cover at a discounted price. (And it’s an even better cover!)
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know most artists work from stock art, but I also know a number of those artists have a competition to use a single image to show off their skill at making their covers look different. It’s amazing how different they are. So, it can be done.
I’m a moderator of a 14,000 member informational writer’s group. We have two rules that result in instant banning – no promotion and absolutely no bullying, bad-mouthing, rude or unkind behavior. You’re professionals. Act like it.
What the person did was wrong – no question – so how do you behave?
Don’t recommend them.
Warn others – in private – about them.
If you see a duplicate, warn the author, and they can deal with it.
But for heaven’s sake, it’s cover art, it’s not life and death. This is not an episode of Mean Girls, it’s real. Anyone who advocates that another do themselves harm is not a nice person. Call them on it. Tell the moderators of the site, have them delete the comment. It’s not worth someone’s life. Covers can be replaced, sometimes with something better. People can’t. Let them, and you, live and learn.
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“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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