The Anatomy of a Cover
Guess who said, “There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.”?
It’s probably safe to assume Charlie wasn’t referring to his own novels. A shakier assumption is that he never heard the old adage, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Maybe not, but as long as book buyers do, covers matter.
So I was delighted when my publisher asked me for cover advice for the soon-to-be-released Listed and Lethal Series. To increase reader recognition, we wanted a theme--a recognizable thread--to span the series.
Since the books deal with real estate as well as murder, each cover will feature a house typical of the one where a killing takes place. In the foreground, the silhouette of a young woman, armed and ready to shoot, ups the menace. Though the image of the house and the woman’s pose change from story to story, a version of both appears on each cover. Also the font remains the same, and is set in the same position: Listed and Lethal Series on top, title in the middle and author’s name at the bottom.
For the first book, Murder on Pea Pike, the killer strikes in a rural log cabin. The season is summer, and yellow diamonds play a role in the plot. Hence a color scheme of green, yellow, and brown with pops of white.
The next step was to choose an appropriate background house. That proved challenging. Most available cabin shots didn’t fit the book’s description or were more horizontal than vertical. Then we found the following image, and a clever cropping—at the roofline on the left and at the porch edge on the right—gave us the needed shape. And luckily, the cabin had been photographed in high summer.
Now for the girl. Poised in front of the cabin, gun in hand, she’s big and imposing, ready to strike at anybody who gets in her way.
So we’ve nailed the setting, the season, the danger, the colors, the series tag line, the title and the author. And here’s the finished product. Ta da!