It's been a debate since even before the launch of my third book in the William of Alamore series. When designing the cover for The Fallen Heir, I found myself stepping back to look over the covers of Ranger of Kings and The Cutthroat Prince and, not for the first time, I felt doubt.
Were they good enough? Did they display what you could expect in the pages of the book?
The short answer is no.
I'm seeing that they aren't eye-catching, they don't promise the plot twists, the action, the adventure, of the Alamore world. These covers don't stand out and say "read me" and, let's be honest, don't we all judge a book by the cover?
So, now I am asking myself; is this the time to re-cover, rebrand, and relaunch these books?
The pros to doing this now is that I can design these three covers and get more readers if I do.
The con is that the readers who have my book now may not ever get a matching cover set of all six books planned for the William of Alamore series.
It's truly a toss up but I think the time has come to accept that sometimes the first cover you pick for a book isn't in your best interest. It's something all authors probably have to face at some point in time.
And this is that point.
Well then, you might ask, what comes as the next step for redoing the covers? How are you picking a design that won't, like these, merely blend together?
Great question. Here's how I've started the work of searching for new cover ideas...
Homework: it doesn't end when you graduate. Actually, it only truly begins the day you step into the real world, especially as an author. When I look at my book, I try to picture who reads my book. So far, I would like to think it's people who enjoy friendship, heroes, adventure, and plot twists in the YA sector. In short, when I picture my reader I have two series that really come to mind: Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. Both those books (well the original American covers) displayed some of what you might see in the pages without necessarily being limited to an exact scene in the book. Both promise action, adventure, and a world you wanted to plunge into. Both show the protagonist. But, where Harry Potter's face is on the cover, I actually prefer to leave that to my reader's imagination. This falls more under the style of Percy Jackson.
Rough sketch: It's ugly but it'll do. This step was me throwing together elements I could use on the cover and discarding the chaos causing ones to create something that better captures the story of William of Alamore.
Find your designer...because it isn't me. I will accept that art isn't my strongsuit, and still less is cover design and computer skills. With sketch in hand, I've started to get a list together of illustrators so I can hunt pricing down. Redoing your book covers isn't cheap, but after helping my dad redo his book cover for a western he wrote, I have seen how much it can be worth the investment (we are talking he's reaching about 2x the readers now.)
Buy and launch: Pay your illustrator. Launch your cover. Seems simple, right? Well, don't forget to market it. Don't forget to shout your new cover from the rooftops. I haven't reached this step yet but I am already working on my strategy of how to tell my readers that Ranger of Kings has a new Cover, how to convince new readers to pick up the story and plunge into the world of Alamore.
Now, I know this is something of a ramble and I appreciate all the feedback I have received regarding covers. As readers, I love your thoughts and feedback and, if you have ideas of what you would want to see on a book cover, or if you have a favorite book cover you would like to share, please do so! I would love to see them all.