Monday, September 14, 2009

Five Covers, One Book, You Pick

Usually I post one green blog a month. This month I couldn't resist a bonus blog, and it isn't green. It's black and white--at least in overall effect. Here's why: it's about the book publishing industry--where business decisions are rarely black and white even though the pages often are.

Did you ever wonder what goes on in an editorial/marketing brainstorming session? Especially a session in which book cover art is chosen? Stick with me here. I'm taking you behind the scene at a publishing company. We're going to see the cover art that was discussed for my soon to be published novel, Island Sting. I peeked in on a secret session and I'm sharing!

Ordinarily, an author is not privy to cover art brainstorming sessions, but Leap Books, is no ordinary publisher. The company is leaping into production with bold innovative steps. One of the braver steps Leap took was in not kicking me out when I was busted as I eavesdropped on their meeting.

You wouldn't believe the cover ideas that bounced around. I'm going to share the images I managed to grab in whatever format I could as I split from the very stressful meeting. Well, it was stressful to me. I mean, I know what my plot is about and would recognize any of my characters on the street. I've practically lived in their environment for what feels like centuries. What were these people thinking? The ones I show below, at least, were offered by designers with insight. For a while I worried that Island Sting, a mystery about an authentic endangered species in an actual location (on Earth), might wind up with a casket full of endangered vampires, or maybe werewolves, on the cover... Hey, I love paranormal fiction: vampires, werewolves, and fun fantasy. But you'd be hard pressed to find those elements in Island Sting. Just got an idea though for the next book. Maybe the real reason the marsh rabbit is endangered in the Florida Keys is-- Whoa, back to the subject.

Some of these cover images are very rough, done in low resolution on a whim, others a bit more polished, and most use sample only stock images for illustrating design ideas. One suggested cover even included a title change. I was not able to make the images any larger or clearer than you see. I was sneaking them out of the building, you know. I could hardly ask, "Hey, do you have a better copy of this?" Actually, it's a minor miracle they aren't covered with pizza stains.

So, what do you think of the choices? As an author, which would you pick to wrap your baby in? As a reader, which would entice you to pick up the book and read the blurb? What factors influenced your thinking? Better yet---grab a teen or tween and ask for an opinion. That would be way cool.

Ta da! Here they are:

Number 1 (The sign reads Caution Endangered Species Area.)

Number 2

Number 3

Number 4 (The dude in the image is pointing a gun.)

Number 5

Now that you have a preliminary idea, here's the flash blurb for Island Sting.

Kenzie didn’t expect her first summer in the Florida Keys to be murder. Cute guys, awesome boats, endangered species, gun-toting thugs... In Angelo's up and down world, Kenzie needed a life jacket and Dramamine.

Still like the first one you picked best?

Please comment. Let me know your thoughts. If you can't or choose not to leave a comment,
contact me. I'll compile and summarize all comments and thoughts for you next month.

You know what? Now that I think about it, this is actually a green post. Not a single piece of paper was used to create even one of these images. Yet...


  1. I like #2 & 4. However, does the man on the cover of #4 imply that the poacher is male?

  2. My 11 year old son says he like 4 and 5, but 5 the most. I think each cover is being marketed to a very different audience, so I'd say consider which one you'd like to attract (i.e. which one is most likely to buy it after reading what it is about). #1 is a mystery to me. #2 seems to be really focused on the action side of your book and, in my view, appeals to boys; #3 looks like a series that is similar to Vet Volunteers by Laurie Halse Anderson and so, possibly too young for your market?; #4 looks a bit confused -- is it a romance? Oh there's a guy pointing a gun, is it a spy flick on a deserted island?; #5 looks like a romance OR like a mystery novel.
    Also my 8 year old says: #5 (independently of her brother).

  3. I like the last one best! It looks more professional to me.

  4. Is the name changed to Danger's Crossing in #3? I don't see the title "Island Sting" anywhere on that one. I'm torn between 2 and 5.

  5. After reading the blurb, the first 3 felt a little light to me. I prefer 4 or 5.

  6. Definitely #2 is the most visually arresting. It would really stand out on a book seller's shelf!

  7. I like number 4. Thanks for sharing this with us! :)

  8. Cover #2--definitely! I would totally pick that up in the store!

  9. I like # 2. I don't like the orange so much, but the design is appealing.
    Good luck with it! It was good to visit last night.

  10. The one that appeals to me the most is #4--gives me a feel for the setting, includes the image of a deer, and builds the tension (with the man aiming a gun).

  11. Bonnie - terrific post! Lots of fun to see this develop behind closed doors.

    I like the last one. If the protag is a girl, I think that one would appeal to girls.

    Can't wait to read it! xo

  12. I like #5 the best... pretty and simple!