Monday, August 22, 2016

Between the Covers...

Most people outside the publishing biz don't realize that authors generally don't get a say in their covers. And sometimes if a cover is beta tested and gets a meh response, the publisher will change the cover. That happened with Sirenz. Here's the original cover:

It seems that it looked too evil (sorry Hades, guess your bad rep isn't bad enough), and people couldn't understand that the heel was the 'i' in Sirenz. I didn't think it was that difficult a concept, but apparently it was.  So the cover was changed to this:

Booksellers were less than thrilled, which made it hard to find the book in stock. (It generally wasn't. Alms for the poor....)

The same thing happened with Blonde OPS. This is the first cover (which I hated but mom said if you can't say anything nice...)

It looked too much like Brittany Spears advertising a better known author's books... Plus I thought it didn't do the book justice; our girl was more edgy, less 'Legally Blonde' -ish. The one thing I did like about it was the architecture in the background- very Italian.

So it changed to this:

The Vespa is a factor in the story (cool car chase through Rome, but read it because I won't tell you any more). Although originally the Vespa was neon green, it was easier to change the text than the photo. And with the red shoes, it felt like a 'karmic 'connection' to Sirenz.

Which brings me to Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines. I gave my illustrator, Cathy Thole-Daniels, free rein. She was the artist, she obviously had an eye for design; it was best I didn't get in her way. This is the rough draft:

Jack, the squirrel in the center, is the main character (and he is quite the character). The other animals play a decent part in the novel too which is why she put them on there. I wasn't thrilled with the font for the title because I thought it was not in keeping with the 'scientific' aspects of the book (you'll have to read it, no spoilers!). She went back to the drawing board, and after talking with her artists' critique group (I didn't know they had them too!), this is the revised cover draft:

Still, I didn't like the title font (hint: 'simple machines'), it looked too forestry. Another revision, and this came up:

She focused more on Jack and the other characters slid off center to the sides. Plus, you can see the details of the wheel (which is important in the story). Next was color. At first there was a lot of green (forest, woods?) so I asked for a complimentary color- like orange and red and yellow because it's autumn when the book takes place, She felt the next version looked too red; "like he's in Hell."

And with the tweaks, here is the final cover:

It's more muted than the previous one (which was deleted), Jack is highlighted just a bit more, the title and text are easier to read, and it captures what I didn't know I wanted. That's the value of a professional artist. If you're thinking of Indie publishing, don't scrimp on the cover art, it will show. Nothing worse than a tacky, cheap, or obviously home-made cover. Every time I look at this cover, knowing that this is the book of my heart (I wrote it over 10 years ago), I'm left breathless. It's also reaffirming when people see the cover and gush over it. I have no doubt it will help the book become a success (and feed both author and illustrator, so bear that in mind).

The next in the series, Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans will be out next year. I had planned on December, but this is a difficult learning process; it's not simply uploading your text into a program. It's going to take a while to become proficient. My agent started this one, but the agency no longer handles Indie published works, so I'm on my own for the rest of the series. I'm still writing and submitting other books to my agent and am ever hopeful that a traditional publisher will pick one up because man, this is a lot of work, stress, expense, and time. (And frustration, but that's another blog post).)

So stay tuned for the launch. Jack and I will be appearing at signing venues like the Collingswood Book Festival, the NJ School Librarians conference, and other events.