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 . 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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Judge this book by its cover!

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” We’ve all heard this, right? But let’s face it, we all do it. Heck, according to this article from the Normal Rockwell Museum’s Illustration History Project website, even when the purpose of a cover was simply to protect a book’s pages, it was likely to be decorated with gold and jewels. As cover materials changed and mechanical book-binding came into play, it became possible to print onto the covers. This led to the cover serving as a type of advertisement for what was inside.

Not all “modern” books follow this trend of having an illustrated cover, however. Growing up, my parents gave me the Children’s Classics series of books, which had no cover art. The book pictured with its front toward the camera is the action-packed Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, but you’d never know it from the cover. Yes, I still have the books! :D

Unfortunately, in today’s crowded book market readers make judgments about our books based on a digital thumbnail. So it’s crucial that the cover conveys what type of reader experience the story provides. Which is why, even though I loved my old covers, I just finished rebranding all of my books with new covers.

Here are the primary considerations that went into the decision to redo the covers:
  1. With my old covers, I felt as if I was promising a more sensual read than I was delivering. There’s a lot of action and explicit violence in my books. By switching to covers with a more thriller-like vibe, I hope readers will understand that the focus of the book is on the action.
  2. I’d grown increasingly unhappy about the disparity in tone between the first two books in the SSU series. The original cover of the first book was dark and brooding, while the second book cover was lighter and playful. I hope the new covers even out the expectations, because while the first book is darker than the second, the second book also has some dark moments.
  3. My books frequently show up in the Mystery and Suspense/Thriller categories on Amazon. My naked man chest covers stood out like a sore thumb among all the thriller-y covers. I wanted my covers to appeal to the Thriller audience as well as the Romantic Suspense audience.
What was I looking for in the new covers?
  1. The covers had to look good in thumbnail size. To me, it’s more important to have my name be readable than the title. I hope to eventually have enough name recognition that books will sell on my name alone. Until then, as long as my name is clear in the smaller size, any reader viewing that thumbnail on a non-retailer site will be able to go to a retailer and type in my name to find my books. Whereas, if they only saw the title, there are dozens of books titled Vengeance they’d have to wade through to find me.
  2. The covers had to convey the overall tone of the story. I don’t care if the scene on the cover isn’t present in the book. I’m more concerned that the reader sees the cover and knows the type of emotional experience they’ll get from the book.
  3. The colors had to be in line with my brand as an author. One of the cover concepts I received was pink. Nope. I nixed that. Pink doesn’t fit with my brand of dark action-adventure. I even told my designer to make a note in my file never again to include pink on one of my covers unless it’s part of a sunset. ;) 
  4. There had to be some indication that there are two protagonists in each story. So I asked my cover designer to include figures of both a man and a woman.
  5. The new covers had to match the overall look I wanted. This took a couple of rounds to get right. I'm glad I persisted, though, because I love my new covers!
So how did it all turn out?

Here’s the original cover for Vengeance, Book 1 in the SSU Series on the left. The new cover is on the right.

Here’s the original cover for Betrayal, Book 2 in the SSU Series on the left. The new cover is on the right.

To see all of my new covers, go to my website,

Will the new covers be popular with readers? It’s too soon to tell.

What do you think? What’s your favorite from the new covers? My favorite is the cover for the next book in the WAR series, which I’m not revealing until I have the book finished.


Vanessa Kier writes action-packed romantic thrillers with an edge. She’s set her latest series, WAR, in West Africa, where she lived for a time. She’s also coaches writers in Scrivener and other tech.

You can find her at:


JB LYNN said...

Love the new covers!

Sandy Parks said...

A great breakdown on why it's important for your covers to reflect your stories. Nice new covers, BTW. Of course, I like both the old and the new.

Vanessa Kier said...

Thanks, JB and Sandy! Sandy, I still have the old covers up on the wall in my office and will simply add the new ones nearby. :)

Julie Moffett said...

I like BOTH sets! But a great explanation on why its useful to re-do covers and why! :)

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