Monday, January 16, 2012

Discussion on Covers, Continued...

Last week, I wrote a post about Revising a Cover. Romantic Suspense author, Tess St. John and I got into a discussion through the comments--until the Blogger comments barfed on me. We continued the talk by e-mail, and she gave me permission to repost some of her thoughts.

Tess: You can't please everyone, so you gotta please yourself!

Suzan: It's not necessarily a question of pleasing people. There's someone of mutual acquaintance who HATES the cover of Zombie Love, but it's my most effective one. On the other hand, I don't want to confuse the readers about which books are part of the same series.

Tess: Well, I never thought I would put pictures on my books, because honestly I don't like pictures of people on books (I want the image I imagine), but I did my research and found that most readers do like pictures of people on the covers...not that it's necessarily helped my readership, but I have gotten compliments.

Suzan: But you write romantic suspense and historical romance. I think your target audience, which is largely women, expect people on the cover to feel a connection. On the other hand, I write urban fantasy. If I put anything remotely similar to the proverbial "clinch" on the cover, I'll chase away the male portion of my audience. The only reason I brought up the need for consistency was because I had confused a reader with the disimilarity between the covers of Blood Magick and Zombie Love.

Tess: I know what you mean...trying to have a similar look with the books for the same series is a good idea essential. But I LOVE the cover for ZOMBIE LOVE. I didn't get it until I read the book (it's supposed to be her nanites, right?)

Suzan: LOL Yeah, that was the intent. It surprises me how many people don't recognize the bio-hazard symbol. I mean, it's in your doctor's office for cryin' out loud! But mainly I used it because so many zombie stories start with a virus out of control, like World War Z or Zombieland. Even the game Halo uses it, even though their zombies are caused by an alien lifeform. If someone gets the contrast between a neon green bio-hazard sign and a hot pink Cupid, then they'll probably get my writing.  (I think.)

Tess: For what it's worth, the people who say your writing sucks big hairy balls have no idea what they're talking about!

Suzan: LOL Most of those folks aren't my target audience anyway. What can I say? I provoke very strong reactions in people.

Tess: Your writing is funny and fresh (the ideas and concepts). The strong reactions means you have a strong voice (at least that's what I'm told because I have many with the same reactions). I'll take a strong definable voice any day! And it's the readers who like your stuff that you're trying to keep! Can't dwell on the others!

Suzan: Damn, girl. Now you're making me blush, but thanks for the compliments.


  1. You blush??? Now there's an accomplishment! Loved how you wove this thread! And I still love the cover of ZL...and you note on the cover that they're both A Bloodlines Novel...seems like enough to me.

    1. Okay, I finally had to log through Firefox to post a reply. Looks like Google did some updating to Blogger comments that's kiboshing IE.

      Yes, I blush. And Nina Cordoba's books make me cry. Gotta a problem with that? *grin*

  2. I had many people tell me they didn't like the first cover I chose (and created myself) for the Contemporary Romance Novel I'd written. They wanted a face on it. But you know what, there was a personal connection for me with that picture. It was the thing that sparked the entire series. I changed my book cover to please everyone and still it wasn't good enough. I knew I wanted to produce a series from this thought I'd had several years ago. I knew what each cover would essentially look like. And now that I'm finishing the last book, I finally realized that I should go with my gut instinct on my covers. I think it turned out well. Maybe I would sell a lot more downloads if I had some hunky guy wrapped around a half-naked Southern Belle. But that's not what my books are about. So, I what you want. Just like Tess said, as long as you have the wording on the cover (very visible) that it is part of a series, you're good.

    I'm reading Dean Koontz's "Frankenstein" books. All 5 of them. I purchased the first three at a Book Warehouse in Pigeon Forge, TN. The first two covers are alike except different in color. The last three are totally of a different design. Did that stop me from reading any of them? Hell no! It was what was inside those covers that kept me interested.

    1. People didn't like you cover? I loved it! Thought it was very reflective of your style.

      I don't mind the half-naked people if they're reflective of the characters. But when every freakin' cover has a naked male torso (and this happened to a friend when her novel was set in Victorian London), they all start to run together.

      Unfortunately, the cover is usually the first thing that catches a potential reader so I do care. It's just that I want to make my different enough to make 'em curious, but not so different as to alienate a reader.

  3. Savannah, I used to be a huge Koontz fan (still am, just haven't read one of his books in years)...I haven't read that series, though. I'm off to have a look.

    And I agree with the half naked people covers. They're not my thing, although they are very popular or at least the publishing industry has made them popular.

  4. I believe what happened was Koontz wrote the first two books with another author. The last three he wrote himself. The covers were redesigned after he branched out on his own.

    1. Since you two brought up Koontz and his different covers, let me ask:

      1) Do different styles of covers in a series drive you crazy?

      2) How do you feel when an old favorite is issued with a new cover?

  5. Suzan...I don't mind covers in a series being different. Like I said earlier--it's what's between the cover that matters to me. Sometimes it does drive me a little crazy when a book is published with a new cover. I do tend to associate a book with its cover. But still, it really doesn't matter to me.

  6. I agree with Savannah...I really don't care what's on the cover, even for a series!