Judge a book by its cover, that is. Covers can make or break a book. Sad but true. The majority of us won't even pick a book up unless the cover appeals to us in some way.
So when it came to my latest book, I knew I needed help. This new historical romance series is set during the Great War. I've written historical romances before but they have paranormal elements. I've written dark stories before but this one is a romance not an apolcalyptic adventure with romantic elements.
In other words, I needed something the same yet different. And it all comes down to that marketing thing called Branding. I'd done up some mock covers but just wasn't happy with the results. They were either too violent or too saccarhine. Plus there was the whole 24-36 books in the series thing. I needed a cohesive idea that would span the next 6 years.
Through my various writers loops, I began cyberstalking cover designers and butted against two problems—time and appeal. Time was short as my book will go live on the 21st and not many designers could fit me in. Second was appeal. Most designs were either too sexy or too light in terms of mood. As the series was set during the Great War, the romances are/will be dark themed, centered on dark events, and menacing.
I was fortunate enough that my first pick of designers, Gabrielle Prendergast of coveryourdreams.net was able to work within my time frame.
If you've been published before, you know that there's always an art cover form to fill out. It's a fairly simple step describing the hero/heroine/clothing etc as well as the time period, thoughts on the design and a scene from the book.
The hard part came in when she asked for a name of the series. Um, that stumped me and I came up with some really bad ideas that sucked even worse when i saw them on the mock cover. Ho boy. Given the size of the series, I really needed a name. Thankfully, my coworker let me bounce bad ideas off her until she said rather snarkily: how about Love's Great War. Ta Da! What a fabulous idea.
So now the series has a name, one to put in those little meta data tags to help folks find me at book sellers everywhere.
But it was Gabrielle who came up with adding poppies and barbed wire—both symbols of the Great War.
Originally we had planned to change the color of the background for each book and I wanted golden wheat in this one. Instead, she came up with the grayscale—something timeless yet modern for the coming years. This has the benefit of making the poppy stand out as both a symbol of the war and red for love. Lastly, she added an antique was to the model image to give it the historic feel.
And this was the result:
Except for the title and cover model, the cover layout will remain the same for all the books. Anyone will be able to tell at a glance they're part of a series and a small subtitle will pinpoint where the book takes place. Even better the grayscale will make it noticeable amongs all the very colorful romance covers.
So to sum up, the cover meets four marketing requirements:
1—It brands the series (recognizable at a glance)
2—It conveys the tone and genre (dark romance )
3—It subliminally taps into iconography of the war (barbed wire/poppy) and time period (antique wash)
4—Stands out from others in my market (gray scale has the added boost of being timeless and classy)
Makes me a little sad when I look at my other covers.