I’m sure many readers wonder why authors sometimes change the covers of their books. As the author of 8 novels, 3 novellas and 1 true story, most of my books are traditionally published. But three of them are self-published at the moment. Now the pros and cons for self-publishing versus traditionally publishing is another topic in itself, but it can also be one of the reasons for cover changes. In fact, there are a whole host of reasons and as I’ve just gone through a similar process with three of my novels, it’s a hot topic for me to talk about at the moment!
It’s often difficult to get the cover right first time, even for those who have been working in the industry for a long time. Remember that a cover has to reflect the content of the book, appeal to the readers of that genre AND stand out from the crowd.
From my personal experience this is what I’ve discovered:
A. Traditionally published books:
1. If there is a cover revision it will most likely be because the marketing team feel a change will enable the book to appeal to a wider audience.
2. Seasonal covers are popular – my Harper Impulse ‘A Cottage in the Country’ has both a summer and a winter cover, and I love that!
B. Self-pubbed books:
Being self-published means that YOU are in the driving seat: which is great on one hand, but on the other you don’t have the benefit of a marketing team’s experience to help you make good decisions. Whenever I’ve changed any of my covers it’s for one of the following reasons:
1. It’s a steep learning curve and what seemed like a great cover at the time can quickly turn out to be a BIG mistake. Don’t beat yourself up over bad decisions, just learn from it and move forward.
2. Trends change and while your book has to stand out, you want it to be easily identifiable as a part of the genre it falls within.
3. A cover may be eye-catching, but it might not quite reflect the subject matter. This makes it difficult for readers to connect with it and easier for them to pass over it.
4. As an author you will, over time, find a way of presenting information about yourself that reflects your personality. This style will be conveyed via your website, Twitter and FB accounts etc. You might then want to have an element of that tying into your covers. This is more difficult if you write in more than one genre, but can still be achieved by use of the same fonts/style/colours.
5. Linking books together, not necessarily because they are a series but, in my case, to give my three self-pubbed novels a sense of linked identity.
6. Sometimes a book that has been traditionally published is only contracted for a set number of years. When ‘the rights’ revert back to you, whether you decide to self-pub it, or submit it to another publisher, a new cover has to be designed.
Two things are very important to understand:
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
We’re all very different…
If you look at any bookshelf you will see covers you love, covers you hate, and those that make you feel indifferent. To some people it’s the cover first, when it comes to choosing their next read. To others it’s cover AND blurb. Some people will be influenced by online reviews and personal recommendations. We are each unique and another ‘plain truth’ is that you can’t please everyone all of the time. Me? I go with my heart and my gut instincts, tempered more and more by experience as time goes on.
My latest cover changes were triggered by getting the rights back for The Restaurant @ The Mill. It seemed the right time to give my self-pubbed books a sense of linked identity. But the new covers also reflect the way I’m feeling more comfortable with my own style. The important thing is to realise that nothing stands still in this fast-paced world and to embrace everything change has to offer – including new directions!
If you want to read about the photo shoot for the new Never Alone cover, you can read the story here: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/my-first-photo-shoot/. It’s just one example of … let’s say ‘diversity’, for this writer!
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