Today I have something special for you. This is a guest post by author Michelle Hauck on how she took her book cover to the people and ended up with a cover that resonated with readers. Here’s how she did it as well as the result–the cover reveal for her debut novel Kindar’s Cure!!!
A warm welcome to Michelle for sharing what she learned about covers and the power of letting readers decide.
Over to Michelle:
How to Get a Book Cover that Resonates with Readers
Before I signed a contract with Divertir Publishing, I had a long telephone conversation with the owner. We discussed many things from the state of publishing, to the best marketing strategies to attract attention, to their vision for my book. With three million books published in 2011 and the numbers only growing, you know it will take something different to stand out from the crowd. The statistics are daunting. To break out in a big way, you have to think outside the box.
Several things stuck in my mind from that phone conversation, but an important one involved cover art. Divertir had done a cover contest for one of their earlier authors and let the fans vote for the final cover. One part of me found this a scary idea. Control of one of the most important aspects of your work would be in the hands of the masses. Masses that probably had not read your darling and no idea what would best suit it.
I’m mean who doesn’t dream about how their cover art will look? You spend countless hours devoting yourself to a project. Live and breathe with and for your characters. Lavished love on them like a child. Of course you’re going to visualize the best scene for the cover. Hypothetically, a certain writer might even go onto stock photo sites and sort through hundreds of pictures looking for the best fit before they even finished the book. Or so I’m told.
To give up that control is a big leap of faith. But that was just one part of me. The other part of me is all about the fun. Life is serious enough. Querying is not exactly a picnic for the self-esteem. You get pushed around, trampled, and spit back out. Why not make the publishing process fun? Why not take a risk?
So six months later when the time came, I took a deep breath and asked to do the same contest for my epic fantasy. They agreed.
Then I got very, very lucky. Unlike most presses where the decisions are all made at the top, my publisher likes to make their authors happy. First, they created the sword in the title that matches Kindar’s sword. Second, they let me choose the photos for the different covers of the contest. I searched and searched and came up with five options. Out of those five, one really represented my story. It had a model that fit the description of my main character. There was a sense of loneliness or perhaps isolation that suited the mood. The color contrast between the white dress and green field was striking. I told my publisher I had a far and away favorite. This picture is the one I wanted for the cover. But what did this mean for the contest? Would we have to give it up?
They suggested we keep the picture, and they would play with the title art and background color to give me four options to present in a contest. They even offered to supply a free book as a prize to one voter. So that is what we did. Four different versions went onto the blog and friends and strangers voted and offered their opinions.
The result was unexpected. The cover that won was not the one I would have picked, but it was the overwhelming favorite, so overwhelming the votes didn’t even need to be counted. I had my cover. I have to agree that leaving the decision up to the majority vote was absolutely the best way to go. It directed me to the cover that would be most popular, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.
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How cool is that? Doesn’t it make you want to take your next book cover to the people? And talk about brave, too! Here is more about Michelle’s book, Kindar’s Cure, which will be coming this month–I’ll add book links to this post as we get them.
Kindar’s Cure: The Cover Reveal!
Princess Kindar of Anost dreams of playing the hero and succeeding to her mother’s throne. But dreams are for fools. Reality involves two healthy sisters and a wasting disease of suffocating cough that’s killing her by inches. When her elder sister is murdered, the blame falls on Kindar, putting her head on the chopping block.
No one who survives eighteen years of choke lung lacks determination. A novice wizard, Maladonis Bin, approaches with a vision—a cure in a barren land of volcanic fumes. As choices go, a charming bootlicker that trips over his own feet isn’t the best option, but beggars can’t be choosers. Kindar escapes with Mal and several longtime attendants only to have her eyes opened that her country faces dark times.
Her mother’s decision to close the prosperous mines spurs poverty and joblessness, inciting rebellion and opening Anost to foreign invasion. As Mal urges her toward a cure that will prove his visions, suddenly, an ally turns traitor, delivering Kindar to a rebel army, who have their own plans for a sickly princess.
With the killer poised to strike again, the rebels bearing down, and the country falling apart, she must weigh her personal hunt for a cure against saving her people.
About Author Michelle Hauck
Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Two papillons help balance out the teenage drama. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A bookworm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.
Her YA epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, is to be published by Divertir Publishing in May 2013. Her short story, Frost and Fog, was picked up by The Elephant’s Bookshelf Press for their summer 2013 anthology.
Connect with Michelle Hauck (you may know her already as Michelle 4 Laughs):
How about you? Have you ever taken a book cover to the public and let them decide? Do you think it is something you would ever try? Let us know what you think in the comment section.
Click here to tweet this post: How @Michelle4Laughs got a book cover for Kindar’s Cure that resonates with readers. Plus the cover reveal!