Sunday, October 11, 2015

Killing one's darlings, book cover edition.

Book covers have been on my mind lately. It's mostly because I'm getting ready to publish A Billion Gods and Goddesses, but also because other indie authors are also readying their fall releases and looking for feedback on the drafts of their covers in various Facebook groups.

Despite what you've heard about stuff that's been designed by a committee, soliciting opinions on cover design can be a useful exercise. I'm no artist (I'm still pretty proud of that C I got in art class in eighth grade), but now that I've been doing this indie-author gig for a few years, I'm getting better at seeing problems in my draft designs. 

Even so, I like to run my ideas past others before I pull the trigger. Moreover, I think it's a good idea for everybody. Other authors will see flaws that you've completely overlooked. The biggest problems usually surface when the image is reduced to thumbnail size, or the size you see on Amazon. Oftentimes, particularly with newbie authors, one or more important elements of the cover will fade into obscurity when reduced to thumbnail size. Like the title. Or the author's name. Or people will pick a boring font for their cover, instead of one that says something about the genre and what's going on in the story. 

Anyway. Sometimes you can get it all right and design a kickass cover that gets everybody's seal of approval, and still the book doesn't sell.

Which brings me to the Land, Sea, Sky books. When I started to envision the cover for Crosswind, I decided I wanted to differentiate this new trilogy from the five Pipe Woman Chronicles books. So I stepped away from the glowy-animal concept that I'd used for the first series, and went for something more realistic. Crosswind got a wind turbine silhouetted against an ominous orange sky; Undertow got a bridge under a roiling cloud bank; and Scorched Earth got a menacing seedling growing in the parking lot of a bombed-out apartment building. Each cover said something important about the plot of that book.

Unfortunately, sales have not been great, and I've known for a while that I need to swap out those covers with new ones -- especially after I went back to the glowy animals for the Pipe Woman's Legacy duology. And with the god guide's imminent release, I knew it was time to make all the books look like they're part of a whole -- because they are.

Now there are authors who will change their covers at the drop of a hat, like they're rearranging the living room furniture or something. But I've been digging in my heels partly because wrestling with GIMP is not at the top of my list of things to do for fun, and partly because I really like the old covers. The one for Undertow, especially.

Anyway, enough whining from me. Here are the new covers for the Land, Sea, Sky books. (Bonus points if you can tell me why there's now a cat on the cover of Scorched Earth. Anyone? Bueller?)

You should be seeing these live at Amazon and Smashwords tomorrow, and at other retailers within the next few days. 

I'll probably be designing a new cover for the Land, Sea, Sky box set pretty soon -- even though I really like that cover, too.

These moments of bloggy whining have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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