Thursday, February 19, 2015

Third(ish) Time's the Charm

New Stones cover!

The third time's the charm. I certainly hope so. At least when it comes to book covers for my novel Stones of Abraxas. Technically, Stones has had four covers, which means "Fourth time's the charm," but that doesn't have quite the same ring to it. Plus, one of those four covers never actually landed on a published copy of the book. It was a shame, too, because that was a cool cover. Unfortunately, the publisher who had commissioned it went out of business before the book ever came out. Such is the horror lurking around the corner for every author.

Original 2006 cover
Anyway, back to my third time's the charm book cover. Stones of Abraxas is my first published book. It's a funny, exciting young adult fantasy novel that was released in 2006 by Medallion Press. Its cover was an awesome original oil painting that depicts one of my favorite scenes from the book. Days before the book's release, though, that nameless horror lurking around the corner jumped out right in my face: Medallion Press announced that they were ending their young adult line. I ran around like a woman possessed, arranging book signings and author visits, but without a publisher to help with promotion or to publish the Abraxas sequel, there was little hope. The book was out of print quickly.

That's when I found Publisher #2. They wanted to re-release Stones, and they were going to publish the sequel Heroes of Abraxas. Much rejoicing ensued at the Sullivan household. One morning I received an email from Publisher #2 with a beautiful cover for the new edition of Stones. We needed new cover art since the first Stones cover belonged to Publisher #1. The new cover was beautiful, though, and the rejoicing at chez Sullivan continued. Then, that very afternoon, another email arrived. This one said that Publisher #2 was going out of business. My book was losing yet another publisher – and this one before the book was even released. The rejoicing ended abruptly.

First self- pubbed cover
 Shortly after this literary tragedy, I got the bright idea to self-publish my Abraxas books. I was still getting the occasional email from people who had read Stones and who wanted to know what happened in the sequel. So I researched cover artists and chose one who wasn't insanely expensive. The resulting covers were colorful, and the finished books from Create Space, Smashwords, and Kindle Direct were high quality. I was even able to edit Stones just the way I wanted it since I was my own publisher. But sales were disappointing.
One day I was browsing Twitter and read a Tweet from a company called SelfPubBookCovers. It said that if you've got a good book, but it's not selling, maybe the cover's to blame. I liked my colorful self-pubbed Abraxas covers, but in truth, I had always suspected they looked too young for the books. These are young adult books with main characters who start off as 12 and 14 years old. The kid on the cover of Stones looks like he's in kindergarten. 

Abraxas sequel

That Tweet got me thinking, so I asked my writing group what they thought of the covers. Frowns around the table. Suggestions about where I could get a new cover. Ideas about what the covers should look like. The next thing I knew, I was pouring over the zillions of book covers that artists have for sale at I ended up selecting two by the artist diversepixel, and she even helped me customize them for my books at no extra charge.

Check out the phenomenal results here and at the top of this blog. Better yet, visit my website for excerpts of the books.

The moral of this story is: You shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but since everyone does, yours better be awesome.

No comments:

Post a Comment