The Tale of Two Book Covers

One of the most exciting things you’ll get to do as a published author is decide on your book cover. For a long time, your novel may have just been black words on a white page, but a book cover is the pretty packaging that is used to attract readers and get them to purchase your novel. Several thoughts on marketing/branding become important during this process.

Most publishers will allow you to provide input into the book cover. Before my cover was designed, they asked me for some directions. This is what I provided for instructions.

1. Different from what is normally seen in CBA fiction. Who doesn’t want to stand out?
2. Dark imagery/suspenseful/intriguing: dark colors, creepy feel, etc…
3. Not overtly medical. Above all else– this was most important to me. This may be confusing to some as it is a medical thriller (of which I am very proud!), but the reason behind that direction was that I’m not sure I will always write medical thrillers, and I wanted to reach the wider suspense/thriller audience.

Here were the two choices I had:

When I got these from the marketing director I was stunned! I loved both for different reasons.

Here were some of my thoughts.

I loved the cover with the menacing killer, and he actually looked just like the villain in my own mind. How could they possibly have done that? I’m a risk taker, and that cover definitely appealed to that side of my personality. My first thought was: Even Ted Dekker hasn’t done anything this scary. Can I pull it off? Is it wise to have something this risky as a debut cover?

Why was it risky? Well, this is where some marketing comes into play. The largest segment of book buyers (even for suspense) is women. Is a woman going to pick up the book with the evil, scary dude on the front? If she does, would she keep it in her hands or plop it right back on the shelf. Was it safer– maybe smarter would be the better term– to use a cover that will accomplish what I wanted but still attract those who are most likely to buy the novel?

I was fortunate because I got these draft covers just before I left for the ACFW conference last September and was able to get the opinion of lots of people on which one they liked the most.

There was one clear winner.

Another interesting thing that happened was a couple of people commented on the size of my name on the front cover. I got the sense that maybe they thought I might be “too big for my britches” as they say. I found that sentiment a little fascinating as it certainly wasn’t something I had insisted on but wondered if there was an unspoken code of name size that once you sold a certain volume of books– then your name could be in large print.

Which cover do you think I picked and why? Do you think an author needs to “earn” their name being in large print?

Click here for the answer and leave a comment here and at Redwood’s Medical Edge. I’ll be drawing a winner from the comments section of both blogs for a copy of Proof!  Drawing will be Saturday at midnight, April 7th. Winner announced at Redwood’s Medical Edge April 8th.

Cover Art by the amazing Nick Richardson.

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30 thoughts on “The Tale of Two Book Covers

  1. I definitely like the cover of the woman better. Truthfully, the man’s face is scary, like nightmare worthy. Based on cover alone, I wouldn’t have read the cover on the left (man’s face), but the chosen cover, now that I can’t wait to dig into. I think it was smart to not play up the medical factor if you won’t always be writing that.
    And seriously, the size of your name on the cover matter’s? Come on people. Let’s celebrate and not look for reasons to knit pick. Can’t wait to read this!

    • Thanks, Melissa! Your influencer copy should be on it’s way soon. The conference comments were interesting about the name size. Before, it would have never crossed my mind.

  2. I was drawn more to the man’s face because it got my attention, but you’re right, it might have been put back one too many times. Intrigued me, then scared me, and since I drop my books down at the side of my bed, would be severely freaked out if I knew that face was right below me as I slept. I LOVE how big your name is! Can’t see that a problem at all. Besides, you have a cool name. Why not blow it up?

    • I do the same thing– have my books on the floor beside my bed! Your comment reminds me of having the book Amityville Horror in my house. I think I picked it up as a free book somewhere and I didn’t even read it– just having it in my house a few days freaked me out to the point where I gave it to the library. And I’m a suspense girl and I don’t mind a horror movie here and there.

      Good thing the girl won out over evil, scary dude.

  3. Love the cover!! The scary dude IS scary. Although a perfect face for a villain, I find the woman’s face more intriguing for some reason. So excited for you, J!! Congrats!

  4. I can see why the second cover won. The first one was cool, but the second catches my attention right away. I have bought books based on a great cover, and usually I end up loving the book. This cover alone (even if I didn’t know you) would make me buy it. There is something about those eyes that draw me in. Her face tells a story, but just vague enough tha I have to read more to find out what that story is.

    I’m so proud of you, Jordyn. Well done!

  5. Jordyn I think you made a great choice for the cover, although I really like them both. Scary dude is REALLY scary! I can’t wait to read this. It seems like June is sooo far away! 🙂 Congratulations! I hope that you can really soak up all of this and enjoy this time in your life and career. And you are working on the next one, right? 🙂

    • Hey , Sherri! Thanks for all your well wishes. June seems still far away but I know the time will fly by quickly. Lots of stuff to do.

      Actually, the second novel in this series is finished and with the publisher. Publisher’s edits should be in the next couple of months. That novel should release after the first of the year 2013 (unless the Mayans were right!). Right now, we’re busy picking book titles for #2 so book cover design should be close behind. Excited to see what they come up with. I think the feel will be the same– with a photo of a major character.

      And–already started on book #3 which is due Jan 15.

  6. I don’t read a lot of thrillers, but I like the woman’s cover best. Maybe it’s because I could connect with the hero and not the killer. I saw this post on your blog first and the size of your name didn’t stand out to me, but it’s an interesting point. I’ll be looking for that detail on other covers.

    • Thanks for traveling over this way from Redwood’s! Good point on who the reader will identify with– hopefully the heroine!

  7. The first catches my eye faster, but I wouldn’t want that face next to my bed either! I’m glad you went with the second.

    I never thought about the size of the author’s name before. It certainly doesn’t bother me.

    • That’s so funny about sleeping next to a scary book cover. I totally understand. See my comment to Heather above.

  8. I like the cover on the right. The one on the left looks too cliche’ to me…sort of a generic cover that could apply to almost any thriller.

    Name size? PERFECT!

  9. I like the one with the woman on the front. It conveys more of a question, i.e. who is she, what proof are we talking about. The other cover conveys closer to the side of horror. I wouldn’t pick up a book with a cover like that. Some things are better left to the imagination. 🙂

    • Good points, Elaine. And it’s definitely not a horror novel so, on that point, I think the reader may have felt mislead with the menancing killer on the front.

  10. I guessed you picked number 2. Honestly, as a reader, I would be more likely to choose the second cover, even though I love books with scary bad guys. I can’t wait until I need to make decisions like that.

    • Robin,

      It is a fun time for a writer. I’ll be praying that day will happen for you, too. I never thought it would happen for me which just shows God makes all things possible.

      Where are you at on your writing journey?

  11. I love how you worked out the reasons for the cover you chose. The “name size” thing sounds odd to me too. I liked both covers but your thinking of appealing to the broadest reading tastes was spot on. The cover with the scary killer is amazing from a graphic design standpoint but I do think it “reads” more horror than suspense.

    • Good points, Charise. One thing I thought about asking the publisher to do (though I never did) was to put the girl on the front and the guy on the back. Kind of a duality feel.

  12. I’m in the “wouldn’t have bought it with the man’s face” crowd. I don’t think it’s that it’s too scary (for me), but it just looks like “guy fiction” and I’m not very likely to buy something I think appeals more to men. (Just read my first Ted Dekker in January …) And, yeah, who cares what size your name is, as long as it’s smaller than the book title!
    Congrats on the first novel coming out … it will find its home on my nook as soon as it’s available!
    Stacy A

    • That’s a good point about it reading only for a male– though my husband did like the book. He’s definitely not biased or anything!!

  13. Love the woman’s face. I get to give direction and my publisher checks in with me on the final cover, but I don’t get to choose between two different covers. I’m still grateful that I have any input at all. And I think the author’s name being large just helps marketing efforts. Love it!

  14. Congratulations! I was excited to get over to your website to see the winning cover…nice tactic to drive traffic. Kudos!
    The man cover was too creepy for me. I’d hesitate to lend it to a friend. Not sure I’d even want it in my house. The other negative for me was the line after the F in PROOF: it felt like a typo.
    The female cover stood out to me because of the hints of color. Her eyes really captured me.
    I’m not sure I’ve thought about names before. One the one hand, I want the title to be predominant. But it’s nice to have the author’s name large enough that it’s easy to find.

  15. Pingback: Front Cover of book design…”version 1a”…thoughts? « Path of Three Hundred

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