NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Monday, February 27, 2017

You're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but...

The job of a good book cover is to make you pick up the book and flip it over to read the back cover. Or click on it to read the blurb. It does that by attracting the eye and providing the right “symbols” to clue you into the book’s genre. If you see a good-looking man and woman on the cover, you would be forgiven for assuming that the book’s a romance. If the man and woman are scantily clad and posed provocatively, it’s probably safe to assume the story contains hot and heavy sex scenes.

As an indie writer, I create almost all my covers. I (usually) enjoy the challenge and I can’t afford to hire a graphic designer for each cover. I mean, really, it would be embarrassing if the graphic designer earned more money on the story than I did.

I know, however, that a bad cover can spell disaster. I also know that “good” and “bad” are subjective. For example, the cover for The Mount by Carol Emshwiller. I had never heard of Ms. Emshwiller when I received her book as part of a goodie bag at a World Fantasy Convention. I looked at it among the 20 or so other books I received and was turned off by the cover. Still, I brought it home. It sat in my bookshelf for years. Every once in a while, I pulled it down and read the cover blurb and then put it back. I just couldn’t get past that ugly (to me—someone else might really like it) cover. Finally, desperate for something, anything, to read, I started reading it.

Well, hot damn. It was a great story—I could NOT put it down. But that cover had put me off so much that I didn’t get to the story for years. That cover failed to do what it was supposed to do, as far as I’m concerned.

While cover art is subjective, a good graphic designer can create a cover that has great appeal. But what if you’re an amateur, like me? You study the genre you’re aiming for. What do those covers look like? What elements do they have in common? Any colours that predominate? Then, trial and error.

When Carina published my first Mendenhall Mystery, The Shoeless Kid, they used the wonderful John Kicksee as the artist. To say I was blown away by the cover is an understatement. When I decided to continue the series as an indie writer, I knew I wanted to carry on John’s vision. I knew I needed elements of mystery, without going too dark, but I also wanted to carry through the style of title and byline that John had used on Shoeless. What I ended up with was not as gorgeous as John’s original cover, but at least the covers look like they belong in the same series:

    

Every once in a while, however, imagination fails me and I can spend weeks (if not months) on a single cover, trying to get it right. “Bloodhound” was published as part of the Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen anthology. I wanted to put the individual story up for sale, but it needed a cover. Do you think I could find an appropriate image? It was like pulling teeth. The story revolves around a young man who was injured at Antwerp, during World War II. The injury left him with asnomia, or the loss of his sense of smell. Once back home, a series of events reverses the effect, and then some.

I fooled around with ideas for weeks, trying and rejecting, with kind friends looking the trial covers over and reacting with “no” to “hell, no!” Here are two of the “best” that got the “uh, no” reaction:

         

And here’s what I finally ended up with. It may not be perfect, but at some point you have to say, enough, and move on:

What about you? Do you create your own covers? How do you go about it? Any tips…?



8 comments:

jean harrington said...

Marcelle, I've known right along that you could write, but I never knew you were an artist too. Your covers are AWESOME! Good for you.

Anne Marie Becker said...

I like the cover you ended up with. I wish I had the talent to make a cover! :) (And after looking at the cover of The Mount, I can see why you put off reading it for so long!)

Marcelle Dubé said...

Thanks, Jean. I'm not sure anyone else would call me an artist, but I'll take it!

Marcelle Dubé said...

Anne Marie, in my case it's more desperation than talent. :-)

Elise Warner said...

The cover you finally decided on is great. You are one talented woman.

Marcelle Dubé said...

::blush:: Thanks, Elise.

Cathy Perkins said...

Covers - and blurbs - are (I swear) the hardest part of writing the book!
Great job on the new cover evolution

Marcelle Dubé said...

Thanks, Cathy. You're absolutely right -- covers and blurbs will be the death of me!

More Popular Posts