Friday, August 7, 2015

Judging a book by its cover

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

One of the great things about being an indie author is that you have total freedom.  That doesn't mean you do everything right the first time, but you get to experiment.  One of the the most challenging things for me is coming up with a cover.

I have a short story called An Unconditional Love.  That wasn't its first title, but with the help of former Cozy Chick Heather Webber and a bunch of Facebook friends, we came up with that title and a cover concept. 
The story is about a mother with a special-needs
child, and how she sacrifices everything for her
little girl. The original cover shows a Mom and
daughter at the beach. I really liked the picture,
but it didn't do much to sell the story, so we
revised it when we started playing around
with "branding."  It didn't do much to sell
the story, either.   Live and learn. 

So I had another one made.  I love it.
Does the story sell a LOT better? 
Not so much, but it's prettier!

I'm going to be experimenting with
a new cover for my cookbook,
Recipes To Die For (a Victoria
Square Cookbook).  So far I've had
two covers, neither of which I've
liked very much.

The original cover.
Coming up with cover ideas isn't as easy as it seems. I asked some of
my Facebook friends for suggestions.
They came up with some very good ideas, but none of them felt right.  So I'm still pondering what I should do.

Since Victoria Square has "signature" gas lights, they would seem to be a good thing to have. But Katie's dream has always been to open a bed-and-breakfast in a Victorian mansion ... so maybe that should be on the cover.  Should there be recipe cards? Should there be a lovely table set with her cats Mason and Della comfortably sitting and waiting for dinner?  Should the table be on the mansion's porch, or should it be sitting in the middle of Victoria Square?  And, could I find the kind of pictures I'd need to help the cover designer pull off my vision of what the cover should be ... when I'm not sure I have a vision?

The 2nd cover (with branding).
See the problem I'm having? And why the rush to change the cover RIGHT THIS MINUTE?  Well, I'm running out of Victoria Square bookmarks and need to reorder.  I really don't want to have 2500 bookmarks with a cover I plan to replace.  So ... this weekend I need to make a decision.

What do you think?


Karen M. Owen said...

I love the 2nd cover of your recipes to die for. Personally I prefer a cover with out people on it, I love the covers of your cozy booktown mystery series something about them called to me. As the mother of two special needs children who's disabilities are visibly apparent I do like your covers for An Unconditional love but I honestly would not pick up either in a bookstore based on the covers alone.

Unknown said...

I am a photographer by trade and have helped SO many people with brochures, magazines, PR material and so on. I KNOW how much a photo can help a piece. You need a photo that hits that person as they walk by and shouts to them and makes them want to pick it up. That can SO be a difficult task. So my question is, where do you get your photos? Do you have a photographer or do you go looking through stock pics? I have a vision of Katie walking up to the mansion that would be the B&B with a bag full of groceries. It would be from the back, a dark night, the light accenting the bag, casting a "mysterious" mood on the house in the back ground that she is walking up to. This would be a different look for a cookbook, stick to your vision and be really awesome for the photographer to shoot. So there...that's my two cents. Wish I lived closer. I would totally do this!

Anonymous said...

I think at a view into the window of the mansion of a skeleton sitting at the table wearing appropriate clothing would be very cool. Plus you could have a lovely table setting in view as well as a bit of the outside of the house.

August 7, 2015 at 9:06 AM

Omygato said...

I picture the mansion with honey colored light pouring out of the windows, highlighting a porch set with tables set for dining. A kitty under a table, the other kitty peeking out of the bushes. Recipe cards would be awesome.

Lorraine Bartlett said...

Have you noticed that only the "cartoon" cozy mystery covers have people on them. (Kate Collins's Flower Shop Mysteries immediately come to mind.) But 90% (maybe more) of cozy mystery covers ever have people on them.

Lorraine Bartlett said...

I use many online stock photo sites. My cover designer can take a photo and make it look like a painting, and she has skills to blend several photos together to make a cover look seamless.

Jeannie D. said...

I have a vision of a Savannah, GA Victorian style home with gaslights and twinkling lights in the trees with a bountiful table of food in the yard.

Anonymous said...

I don't like either of the covers. If you have a view of the kitchen or of a dining room, it needs breakfast foods as it is a B & B. Lighting should also reflect morning. If a kitchen, probably no cats but dining/breakfast room could have cats. Cordella

Karen Hansen said...

I never realized it was so hard to do a cover. Live and learn. I don't like "girly" covers and I must admit I am influenced by a cover. I like Jeannie D.'s idea above of the Savannah Ga Victorian home.

Beverly said...

I like the second cover better. While I rarely decide based on the book cover alone. An eye catching cover will get my attention.
The second cover suggests a Bed and Breakfast or even a Tea Room. I really like it.

Lorraine Bartlett said...

Just one problem ... the book is set in Western New York!

Lorraine Bartlett said...

There are a lot of tea recipes in the book, and that was the angle I was going for, but it's rather bland.

Unknown said...

I agree with the Savannah Ga Victorian home idea, with breakfast foods, in the patio area, as B & B only serves breakfast.

Anonymous said...

I like the gas lights and the cats on the table with either recipe cards or a cook book, maybe a tea pot or a doll house of the Victorian mansion
Dawn H

Nicole said...

I, too, like the idea of the cover with Victorian theme… The teapots, the mansion, the porch, the table settings...reminiscent of the books. :-)

Kaye Killgore said...

I too like the Victorian theme, with part of a house, elegant table settings, and cats.(For the cookbook). For the short story, maybe a woman kneeling holding (shielding) the child.