We're so excited here at WITS. The amazing teacher and writer, Shannon Donnelly, has agreed to be a monthly contributor! Read on - you're going to be excited too! Here's Shannon:
The great thing about ebooks is you can keep changing the cover. The bad thing about ebooks is you can keep changing the cover. It becomes a lot like putting on a new outfit--you're not really sure if the new one is a favorite because it's great, or just because it's new. I'm hoping this evolution for my book, Paths of Desire is heading forward.
The first cover was very much an experiment in making something from other things. I love the pose and the sunset, but while I also love silhouettes, these didn't "read" well to readers. The ship is also a touch out of period, and that bugged me.
The dress is also a little out of period. While it's not all that obvious, the waistline is low, meaning this reads as more of a Georgian era, which doesn't work for a book set from 1813 to 1817.
The fonts, here, too, were used to copy those on my other Regency romances. While the fonts read as "romance" I'm not sure they really gave me as much polish to the cover as I wanted. There's a whole art to fonts, and there's also a style--certain things come in and out of fashion. As with any other fashion, you can get too trendy and end up dating your cover (just look back at covers from the 1980's...or the 1960's!) You can also get too fancy. When in doubt, go with readable.
But you also need something that really sells the book. This wasn't it.
So it was on to the next draft.
For version number two, some elements stayed, some changed. Mostly it was about changing the couple. Again, silhouette was used--I had the idea that the suggestion of the couple would be cool. And, yes, it's nice, but still not as eye catching as I wanted.
Notice the pose is different--this is what I call the almost kiss. The dress is now period for the woman. And I really liked that moment before the kiss--that's what I think is always the best moment...the anticipation.
I'd call this a good cover, but it wasn't quite as slick as I wanted. It was low cost, so that let me get the book for sale so the book could actually finance how things went.
The silhouettes, however, while they were something I liked, did not really catch the eye. There's nothing here to really pop out. I also think the ship sent the wrong idea--it's a little too "piratey". I wanted the sense of a journey (as in paths, as in the story is about two folks and their journey into a relationship), but the ship is just too much Captain Jack (yes, Disney influences us all.)
And, yes, it was time to go onto the next version.
For the next cover, I went hunting and found Della Jacobs, who does great covers, as well as writing great books. The goal here was to get a stronger pose for the couple. I also wanted to keep the path/journey theme going on the cover, since that was the heart of the book. So this cover was born:
The outline on the lettering helped the text stand out, and the two different fonts also add a little more style. We still have that moment before the kiss on the cover. So I really liked this. But there was one problem.
When this cover is very, very small, the faded out couple tends not to read well (not a great thing for an ebook). It still looks good here, but on a page with a lot of other colors and art and text, the cover does tend to get lost. Sometimes understatement is great for your personal style, but not for a book cover.
What matters with an ebook is the sales numbers, and while the trend was upward, this cover wasn't giving me the numbers I wanted. So back on the hunt.
Searches led me to Hot Damn Designs. I browsed the covers and the stocks. And I liked the covers. The cost was within budget, too (always a consideration.) So I sent them information and selected some stock that I liked.
Kim, the main designer, sent back two options, and both were great.
The red automatically appealed to me the most--but then I like to wear red a lot, too. However, the pillows and the background had kind of a Belle Epoch feeling, which wasn't quite the historical tone I wanted. The hint of red hair also did not suit the dark haired heroine. So version 3B it was.
This also added in the tag line (not something you can see in the small version, but it's hinted at enough that someone might click to see a larger version of the cover. We still have, too, the anticipation of the kiss.
I also thought this gave the idea that the book is a hotter Regency historical. Since I've written shorter, lighter Regencies, some folks may expect that and may not like the sex in the book. But it's vital to the story and the characters, and so it's there. The cover had to say that.
It's too early to tell, yet, if the cover will do great. It's already doing better than the other two covers. But is it too much in fashion? We've lost the path feeling, so is that bad? Does this now look like too many other book covers? Does it do enough to tell the reader what the book is about (other than two folks in bed?)
Covers have limited space, and an author always wants more--can you put in the travel, and the couple, and oh, yes, there should be a London stage (she's an actress,) and he's an explorer, so a map or compass would be cool. And with that you now have a cover with so much going on that it's impossible to see anything. But does this need more?
Time will tell. And maybe another cover will appear in a few months.
Shannon Donnelly's writing has won numerous awards, including a RITA nomination for Best Regency, the Grand Prize in the "Minute Maid Sensational Romance Writer" contest, judged by Nora Roberts, RWA's Golden Heart, and others. Her writing has repeatedly earned 4½ Star Top Pick reviews from Romantic Times magazine, as well as praise from Booklist and other reviewers, who note: "simply superb"..."wonderfully uplifting"....and "beautifully written."
Her latest Regency Historical Romance, Paths of Desire, can be found as an ebooks on Kindle, Nook and at Smashwords, along with her Regency romances, and her free novella, Cats Cradle. She has had novellas published in several anthologies, has had young adult horror stories published, and is the author of several computer games.
She lives in New Mexico with two horses, two donkeys, two dogs, and the one love of her life. Shannon can be found online at sd-writer.com, facebook.com/sdwriter, and twitter/@sdwriter.
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