Thursday, October 16, 2014

In search for the best book cover

For a number of reasons, including the fact I'm taking a cover art class this week, I've been thinking about book covers and what it takes for a cover to help make a sale. You always hear the expression "don't judge a book by its cover", but the truth is most people do look at a cover and decide if the book looks like it might be worth exploring.

The first thing someone sees is the cover, sometimes even before the title of a book. The cover is supposed to make a promise about the story. Is it humorous, serious, romantic, or suspenseful? Even before someone reads the blurb the cover should tell them something.

I have this one title that I wrote a long time ago, and have now published twice with two different publishers and have just put up for sale on preorder through Amazon and Apple. It is a contemporary romance novel called "Christmas With Sarah".

This is the blurb:
A family together at Christmastime—there couldn’t be a more perfect holiday scene. But for wealthy Silicon Valley entrepreneur Greg Wilcox and his daughter Sarah, one thing is missing—a woman to help wrap the gifts, bake the cookies and fill that emptiness in their hearts and home. Greg and Sarah both think Molly would be the perfect addition to their family, but they have to convince Molly first. 
Big Sur artist Molly Anders remembers the Christmases of her past, baking cookies and decorating a tree. More than anything she’d love to have a holiday like that with Sarah. Trouble is, she doesn’t want a man in her life as shiftless as Greg seems to be, especially as he stirs something in her that she isn’t sure she wants resurrected. 
Circumstances have pulled them together and led them into love but it will take trust and the spirit of the season for them to get what they really want for Christmas—a family.
So what do we know about this story? It has a little girl, a loving and probably sexy father, and a young woman who loves the child and is reluctant to get involved with the father. It is a holiday story and we can guess it has a happy ending. Something that isn't in the blurb is that the story is relatively light-hearted. Not quite a comedy but there is humor in it. That's something that it would be nice to see reflected in the cover.
So here are the two covers that this story had in the past.

The first cover was with Zumaya publishing. It featured a cute little girl and a Christmas tree, and over all wasn't a bad cover. I liked the blue background and the font used for the title and author name was very Christmasy. I'm not sure the cover said enough about the humor in the story though.
The next cover was with Cerridwen Press, which was an imprint of Ellora's Cave and what became their "Blush" line of non-erotic stories. Again we have the Christmas tree and this time I have a motorcycle helmet with Molly's name on it, something that shows up in the story. Again, not a bad cover, but the drab color of the cover always bothered me as it just didn't seem to scream light-hearted romance. 
So when I got the rights back to Christmas With Sarah, I wanted a cover that "popped" with color and that would make it clear this was a humorous romance. So after a chat with my favorite cover artist, this is what I got:
Okay, there is nothing drab about this. The green of her dress, the gold of the lettering, and warm colors of the background make me love this cover. And now I have her expression with its mischievous smile to provide that sense of humor that neither of the previous covers had. I had my artist dress my hero in his leather jacket as that provided a nice contrast with the fancy party dress, again hinting at some of the conflict in the story. This cover does a much better job of telling people about the story and it has one additional feature.
This looks like a romance cover.
I'm really happy with my new cover and the fact that once again Christmas With Sarah will be available for this upcoming holiday season. 
It is currently available for preorder at Apple and Amazon and will be released everywhere on October 25. I've got it priced at $2.99 for the next couple of weeks.
Tell me what you think about these covers.
Cheers, Janet


Sharon Hamilton said...

Glad I clicked on this, Janet. You make a great point here, and yes, the third one is the charm. Good luck with the sales. It does look like a winner! So nice we have this way of being able to revive older stories, covers, and bring them to the market of today. That's what I love about being Indie!

Jory Strong said...

Definitely looks like a winner. Trumps the others by far.

Gayle Parness said...

I love this cover! It's flirty and fun and Christmasy and hot all at the same time. Perfect. A thousand times better than the other two.

Janet Miller said...

I could not agree more. And it is funny how fast my cover artist was able to put it together. She nailed it on the first try and my jaw dropped when I saw it. All I did was have her move the title up a little bit so it popped a bit more and that was that.

Rolynn Anderson said...

# 3 IS A WINNER! Amazing how different each covers' 'feel' is. Based on your blurb, you got it right in #3. Now I see how covers make the sales!

Ana Morgan said...

ditto. The 3rd cover is smashing!

Mona Risk said...

Janet, I love the third cover. It spells, Romance, Christmas, light-hearted.

The first cover, the blue one, would be good for a children story and the title is difficult to read. The second brown is simply yuck, too dark.

Charzweb said...

Definitely, the third cover is the best. Nice colors and it really picks up the sory line. Congratulations, Janet, it look like a winner!

Char Swensen said...

Definitely, the third cover is the best. Nice colors and it really picks up the sory line. Congratulations, Janet, it looks like a winner!