…first about me as it relates to covers and my experience…
Since you’re here you already suspect that I’m Kathy Clark…Kathy to my friends and fans from long ago and as a bestselling romance author from the 1990s who has morphed after 23 novels and 20 screenplays into a new bright overnight talent in the Indie Book Marketplace…. Overnight? Sure…been at it for about a year and in addition to getting 21 of my 23 romance novels up on eBook platforms around the planet I have also caused the development and release of four new books since October, 2012. After Midnight, a Denver After Dark Suspense is under my name…Life’s What Happens is a New Adult Romance and was co-written with my husband Bob so the name Bob Kat is born—Viola…and a young adult time travel mystery series with him, again, called CUL8R [See you later] and the books are OMG and BRB [Be right back]. Book #3 will release this month and is titled BION [Believe It Or Not].
..and what’s this blog about and why?
This blog is all about covers. Book covers. Why book covers…? Because for 23 novels someone in NYC or London made the call, did the design and answered my stupid questions about what they were proposing to cement on top of my priceless novel covers that are not about the people, places or things in the novel itself and that they had no intention of ever changing.
However, after 3.25 million books over all those years and languages who says they weren’t right about the covers. So we, Bob and I, just re-covered 21 of my 23 books. Why did we do ti? We modified the old paperback versions with a new modern looking cover. After between eight and fifteen months why did we re-cover nearly all of them? Read on…
What made you want to re-cover 21 books?
The old covers were all about my idea of what the book was about. And more importantly as I refined my long romance genre experience into writing romantic suspense, mystery, new adult and young adult subgenres, I wanted to not look so romance like. And man they succeeded…in spades!
When so many people said “I don’t get the covers” or the “covers look cheap” or the “covers look like an amateur author did them” or my favorite one “I know a guy who can help you with those covers.” I knew we needed to change. At a party when three people tell you, you need t sit down…you’re drunk. At several recent Virtual eBook Fairs we got feedback that on 4 of 6 new covers I had between 6 and 12 people tell me they liked the new covers… Validation!
How important do you think the book cover is in attracting potential readers?
Book covers serve to attract the readers’ attention and to get them to spark to your book without actually reading anything between the covers. Today, without the ability to pick up and touch the book in a book store, the cover has to grab you through their thumbnail sized stories. So this is a major change; sell people on a really big concept with a really small picture. Sort of like when you go to a movie and the trailers used to all have voice overs and today they rarely do…just the visuals flashing by to grab your interest. The visuals tell the story enough to hook you to spend $7 or whatever in a few weeks. Can a thumb nail hook you enough to spend $.99 to $5.99? The bigger issue of course is competition. There a few more books out there than there are movies. How to stand out? Can’t be the name of the actors or the director…it has to be the name of the book’s author. Many people have taken to developing covers as a template looking for that visual bite of space. This is a very popular technique to use in a series.
What’s the most important ‘thing’ in a cover?
A good cover reflects the content and tells, even promises the reader “This is what you’ll get if you buy my book.”
It doesn’t actually tell you the story but sets the mood, the ambiance of the story inside the cover. You need to know the book is tart, sweet, bitter, bloody, funny, sad, evil, whatever. And if you could actually tell the story on the cover it must not be much of a story.
So here’s an example of two covers and what they now say about the book.
What findings do you get from this?
- A take-off of “Custer’s last stand”? Custer lost to the Indians as you recall.
- He’s an Indian chief and she’s beautiful
- The grave yard is full of really old tombstones and then there is the phrase “haunted by the past”
What conclusions can you draw…quick brainstorm…
- A past that haunts them
- A condemned relationship from the past, maybe like Romero and Juliette
- A story that takes place in the old west of the US but it is a contemporary romance
You still don’t know the story but you know enough to judge if you like stories set in the west about two people with a past that will get in their way today.
What findings do you get from this cover?
- The castle from Disney World and flamingos probably from Florida
- A log line that says the magic kingdom wasn’t very magic for this couple
What conclusions can you draw…quick brainstorm…
- The flamingos seem to be unable to break it off, wrong man or not!
Every cover has a feeling that is broadcasting what the book is about. Some covers do it through words while other messages are in the pictures. Some examples:
The girl is beautiful and her expression goes well with the book’s title, Life’s What Happens. The title was first a phrase in a John Lennon song from over 30 years ago and has a common definition. Is she thinking what could have been? She doesn’t see happy about it. She’s square in the New Adult age group / genre and the book is in fact a new adult romance.
Take the log line “Did destiny bring them together” and then study the expressions on their faces. Hers? Sort of “go ahead make my day” or at the very least I’ve got the crystal ball and I know what it is going to say. His? Confident, maybe he’ll take a step or two and see for himself? A partner in the story? Likely not.
The background symbols sure align to the series title of being a time travel mystery series. The title BRB for Be Right Back seem contrary to the very rested girl who does not look like she’s going to be right back. A mystery that you have to time travel to solve.
And to be sure the reader understands that this is a series books #1, OMG and book #3, BION [Believe It Or Not] have a similar cover theme. Book $3 is to be released in July, 2013.
Do you commission artists to create your covers?
I do not. During the years I wrote for Harlequin for example I had the luxury of having covers developed for me. Actually I had no choice. The downside is that the covers didn’t reflect what was inside the book itself. Harlequin knew for example what pictures on the front of a book in UK versus, Italy sold best and how the cover had to be different for the U.S.
But I liked my covers to have blonde heroines if inside she was blond for example and after a while they gave me an input they never listened to me. Over three publishers I lived through nearly two dozen books where the cover did not match the inside as to what people looked like, where te story took place and so on.
So bottom line I got very hands in the process and applied what they knew to what I knew was inside and what I hoped the customer would find.
I’ll blog about a few covers and talk later about alignment of the message.
What do you think of these new covers? You can leave your replies below.