Compromise isn’t a word that one would associate with sales. Sales is driven by determination, is it not? Yes, it is but sales are often created by a compromise. The level of compromise is what needs to be considered in the situation. There are some things that one should never compromise, like morals, ethics and integrity. I will never compromise those for a sale–that’s not typical of all business people. There are a lot of business people who are constantly compromising those things, and they do it so often that suddenly they have none of those things. Compromise entails serious considerations of all the pros and cons of what you are doing. Last week my amazing mentor involved me in a discussion about a compromise of hers–she is also an author and was discussing a compromise of marketing prospects. As an author we write because we love to, but in the end we want people to read our books. To do that we have to market our work, and the first line of marketing for a book is it’s cover. You all know how much I love designing covers and how important I think they are. I started to do some “market research” on the subject. My mentor and I discussed what I had discovered. There were two things that I noticed immediately about books with high sales:
1. The covers have people on them
2. The covers looked real
Now, there are exceptions to every rule. There are some brilliant covers out there without people on them (Midwinter Sonata Series, In Between Seasons 🙂 )and some that I don’t enjoy but that draw in sales (Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey).
My mentor had just recently compromised on a new cover for one of her wonderful romance novels, one that should have been selling better but had a very lack luster cover. That was something that I immediately thought when I saw the cover, it didn’t demonstrate her writing style and it was so blah–the colors, the cartoon like features and fonts. When she asked me about it the first time I didn’t know what to say, but she told me she felt the same! When she had the chance to change the cover, she jumped on it. The wonderful thing about being an indie is that we have a lot more say in the cover design than other authors. When I saw the new cover I thought the colors and font were perfect, but the people were different than imagined. I crinkled my nose at the guy, yet when the new cover went live the changes were immediate (proving no matter how greasy the person–as long as there is a person, it has more appeal). The compromise was that it wasn’t exactly as imagined–80% of it was perfect though!
This all had me thinking about Walking in the Shadows. I’ve had some people that love the cover, and then others who didn’t like it. I’ve had the same thing with In Between Seasons, but I’ve never thought about changing that cover. I think it’s perfect for that novel because the corrupt world is what shapes the characters lives, and that building depicts it. It’s what I always wanted–it was what drove the writing of the novel. Walking in the Shadows is different because I always wanted a person on the cover. It just didn’t work out that way–I took the photo that was the cover and I loved it. It’s a beautiful photograph, it really is, but as I look at it now it feels flat for the nature of the novel. The novel is a suspense, while the Angel is peaceful…this book isn’t. It’s about a serial killer who takes the main character’s world and destroys it. She’s lost. She feels alone. All because of one book. When you look at this do you feel those things? I still feel it’s a beautiful cover–I know it is. The thing about graveyards is that not everyone realizes that the Angel is from one, and some people just find that so creepy. In my mind graveyards have always been a place of beautiful peace. I love taking photographs there, and what I wanted with this photo was a person with their head pressed against the statue. The thing about photography is that it can be deceitful. This statue is about 5 feet off the ground, and it’s also a LOT smaller than it looks. It really only stands a about 2 feet tall. That flower was also hot pink. I wasn’t climbing on a gravestone to press my head on it (now that is so creepy). In the end the cover was actually a compromise. It was half of what I wanted, and it was from the ending scene of the novel. The thing about it being the ending scene is that while the main character’s world is still a mess, it’s beginning to align. I feel that when I look at the cover, and the book really is about getting to this point. It needed a person on it to add that feeling. Compromising 50% is not as good as compromising 80%. After thinking of all these things I came to the realization that although I love this cover, it’s just not working.
Have you ever seen those packages that say “New Look–Same Great Product!”?
They speak strongly of a compromise–a change from the original idea because although it was well-thought out then, it’s not quite working now. Times change, styles change–granted none of those things have happened since the release of Walking in October. The thing that changed was my view of my covers–and the fact that I was able to check my pride when I watched my mentor compromise on the new cover and saw great results. As I think of it now, I’m not really compromising anything. I don’t have to. I have complete control of my covers, and hey, who else can say I’m on my own cover? The back cover is also being modified–so that it has the beautiful picture from the front on the back. It tells the story of the novel, the front haunting, suspenseful, the back beautiful and peaceful.
How did I reach the new cover idea? The photograph was right under my nose–it was one my husband came up with, there I said it–my husband was the photographic genius in this case. I loved this photograph too and for the life of me I don’t know why I didn’t see it in the first place. The next thing I decided on after I picked a new picture was the fact that I wanted a saying to draw you in. It was something else that I had noticed on covers that I liked. One simple sentence that had me going, mhmm…yes–click “to read”! The final part was the font. I wanted something girly but easy to read (that was an issue with the previous cover). I found it, and then after playing with colors I decided that red was still what I wanted. Then staring at it I felt something was still missing. I wanted something beautiful–the same beauty that was at the core of the original cover–the fleur di lis was seal of the deal.
Without further ado:
New Look–Same Great Product!
What do you think?
- Judging a Book by the Cover (writingwranglersandwarriors.wordpress.com)
- Feature Friday: Stock Covers; Cheap and Gorgeous (giodesignstudios.wordpress.com)