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Cover Workshop > Cover Help - Epic/Urban Fantasy

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message 1: by Laura (last edited May 22, 2020 08:12AM) (new)

Laura Engelhardt | 73 comments I am looking for a 2nd opinion on whether this cover needs to be revised. A marketing consultant recently advised me that my cover looked YA & suggested both redoing it, as well as going in more of a graphic direction for the next in the series (ala Deborah Harkness, Katherine Addison, etc.).

The series is adult fantasy fiction. It's a multiple POV, epic fantasy, family saga set in the modern world. This is NOT a "coming of age" story, & isn't intended to appeal to a YA audience. It's also not a classic urban fantasy story (ala mystery/romance in a paranormal world). I'm targeting more of an "alternate history" / "mythological creatures" / "women's fiction" / "epic fantasy" reader.

Do you think:
1. This cover skews YA?
2. This cover should be redesigned?
3. The Book 2 cover should be more graphic ala Deborah Harkness, etc.?

Thank you in advance for sharing your opinions.
Stay well,

message 2: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (last edited May 22, 2020 08:49AM) (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 719 comments Mod
Pasting a larger version of the cover for people to actually see:

I can see why the cover might lean towards YA, even though YA paranormal romance covers are a bit... well, less clothed, in many cases. The color scheme matches to some degree, though.

Whether or not to redesign in (and, by extension how) is not an easy question to answer. I'd have a look at the main themes in your work and whether something among them could be used to create a cover that's not as close to the usual YA PNR look.

message 3: by M.L. (last edited May 22, 2020 09:00AM) (new)

M.L. | 1122 comments I like the cover a lot. It does suggest YA. To say whether it should be redone, well, you're paying a market consultant. Check their bio, work, how good are they. In general, I would probably agree with their reasoning for changing it--but you need to see what the changes will look like. The other thing is that many YA readers are not young adults. Also, Deborah Harkness has the benefit of a huge marketing machine and readers knows what to expect. All that said, I like the cover - would have a hard time parting with it.

Another thing: how is the book doing as is; how long has it been out? Lots of writers want to jump to bigger sales. I've seen a few do it with change of covers; most not.

message 4: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1122 comments Oh, and it does not strike me as paranormal romance (an aspect of that could be there but that's not the focus): the girl is focused, heady, and there is a serious task she is facing.

message 5: by E.M. (new)

E.M. Jeanmougin | 29 comments I could see this being misconstrued as a YA. I can't exactly describe why, but it does LOOK like a YA. Something about the color scheme and title reminds me of a lot of YA books I read growing up. However, I could also see a Magical Realism type book.

It doesn't strike me as a paranormal romance. More of like a coming-of-age, chosen-one type cover.

As to whether or not to redesign it, I don't know. I don't think it's a bad cover by any stretch of the imagination. The color scheme is pleasing to the eye, the character is well-drawn, the text is nice to look at it.

There's also been a shift recently in the content of New Adult books, with them being more slanted towards magical realism than they used to be. It used to seem to me that anything with magical themes ended up falling in the YA category, unless it was PNR, which could then be New Adult. But now you're targeting to a group of people who grew up reading and watching Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Percy Jackson. I'm guessing they're probably more willing to read New Adult books with magic themes than their predecessors.

message 6: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1122 comments It looks YA to me because the girl is young, she looks like Emma Watson, which translates to Harry Potterish. Also the waves seem to be cresting, breaking towards the middle. Generally they break in the same direction, although not necessarily, so could be perfect storm/symbolic of perfect storm, a mega clash: maybe a little too symbolic. (still nice though)

The description of 'epic' UF is a little bit, not quite confusing but sort of mixed. Generally smallish figure, big background is more representational of an epic struggle. (For example, see The Sword of Kaigen. Nice cover, ocean, storm.) But here you have a large central character which puts more focus on the character and less on the epic aspect.

And, I think your target description is a bit broad: alternate, myth, women's fiction, epic, etc.. Yes, it can cover all those, but it sounds like it's trying to cover all fronts. If you narrow the focus you may still pull in those readers. Hope that helps.

message 7: by Tony (new)

Tony Blenman | 92 comments If I were paying a consultant for any kind of work, I would take his/her recommendations quite seriously, and he/she would hope I am taking the recommendations seriously. If I had doubts about the advice, further questioning would be my direction.
Hope you get some useful ideas soon.

message 8: by Laura (new)

Laura Engelhardt | 73 comments Thank you all for your thoughts! I paid for a one-hour consultation, and this was one of a few tips he provided. Changing the cover would be a significant and unanticipated expense, so wanted to solicit other opinions as well. I’m going to check out magical realism covers. The key perhaps is in trying something different for book two, before I embark on any redesign. It’ll give me more datapoints. Thanks!!!

message 9: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Standafer | 60 comments I love the cover but like others said, it makes me think YA. One thing to consider is keeping the same sort of look/feel to the covers in a series. If you don't change the cover for book one then go in a different direction for book two, you may lose some continuity??

message 10: by Laura (new)

Laura Engelhardt | 73 comments Margaret wrote: "One thing to consider is keeping the same sort of look/feel to the covers in a series. " Great point. Adding a large-scale character to the cover was a mistake. Whether graphic only is the best choice, I'm not sure. So maybe I need to think about modifications in stages. Right now, my plan for the series is 5 books & I'm finalizing Book 2 now. So maybe I use a different cover to see what works best. By the time book 4 rolls around, hopefully I'll have a better sense of what works & will be able to revamp the priors to harmonize them. I really appreciate the feedback!!!

message 11: by Laura (new)

Laura Engelhardt | 73 comments M.L. wrote: "see The Sword of Kaigen. Nice cover, ocean, storm.) But here you have a large central character which puts more focus on the character and less on the epic aspect. " These are really great points & you've helped me quite a bit. I think the problem I had was that the covers I'm drawn to as a reader are not representative of my series.

message 12: by Mark (new)

Mark Abel | 40 comments Hi Laura - Reading through this message string and then dialing in on the cover art my thoughts are as follows: I think the current cover is quite strong however I agree with your consultant. It looks YA, coming of age, possibly romance and the woman looks quite young. The opposing waves are very interesting and draw my attention, however for me they appear to be forming a heart shape, which at first glance and with the woman, (gazing toward something), made me think it was a romance story before reading the title. Without knowing anything about your story I would ask if there is a dominant, first person, woman who this story is about? I notice you said it is epic and multiple POV which sounds great but that leaves me wondering why the woman is dominating the cover. Unless your story is about this woman, I am wondering if you might leave her off altogether and let the focus be one of the tidal wave shots, as they are powerful, alluring, and mysterious which seems to align which your genera description. If you retain a woman image, possibly you might consider a face shot that is faded/screened, (+- 70%), behind the water as if looking out.

As for a redesign more like Deborah Harkness, I know nothing about her writing but googled her covers and was not impressed. To me they look overly busy with too many images and way to much text although some of the title fonts are quite nice. Not sure if this helps. Would be interested in seeing it if you do go with a makeover. Good luck and keep us posted !

message 13: by Laura (new)

Laura Engelhardt | 73 comments Mark wrote: "The opposing waves are very interesting and draw my attention, however for me they appear to be forming a heart shape, " OMG, I never noticed that before.

I'm going to see how much it might cost to replace the girl with a scalpel. A lot of my readers have connected with my doctor storyline & this would bring it together nicely. Any thoughts on this image? I don't think it would necessarily read horror...

I'll go back to the cover artist & see how much he would charge to make that modification. I had a print layout company set my type & they inserted the cover into the ebook files. Does anyone know if I can make a swap myself? I only have the .epub and .mobi files & I do not want to pay them to reopen the book for such a minor switch.

Many thanks for all the great advice/help!!!

message 14: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1122 comments A scalpel would definitely change the tone and mood. You might try fiverr. They have lots of artists, don't cost much, and a number of folks have had good results.

message 15: by M.L. (last edited May 24, 2020 09:35AM) (new)

M.L. | 1122 comments The first cover for Addison's The Goblin Emperor was the top of the little goblin's head and a kingdom, graphic and stylized, as to the task he was going to be weighted with, so I did not really see the connection with that and Deborah Harkness's covers. However, I just looked and there is a new cover for The Goblin Emperor and that one, yes, is more similar to Harkness. Your marketing consultant wants to go in that direction and so far he's been right (this is pertaining to the YA look). A scalpel as central image raises tension (sharp objects do); Harkness's images, to me, are more subtle, so perhaps a slower burn, and more thoughtful (?). I haven't read your book so I don't know about the pace, intensity, etc. The cover image sets reader expectations as to story and pace (and I'm assuming the marketer has read the book or knows the content). If the character is a doctor, perhaps something representing/symbolic of, say, the Hippocratic oath, myth, Circe, you could include a scalpel, things along that line. I would suggest checking with your marketer. The direction he wants to go is current, see Erin Morgenstern's The Starless Sea. The challenge, especially for an indie, is will the cover be visible enough to make the connection.

message 16: by Mark (new)

Mark Abel | 40 comments Laura wrote: "Mark wrote: "The opposing waves are very interesting and draw my attention, however for me they appear to be forming a heart shape, " OMG, I never noticed that before.

I'm going to see how much i..."

Hi Laura - I designed my own cover and also book interior. I then used a free software called Calibre to generate the EPUB and MOBI files. The process is very easy but you need to load the interior Word File and cover JPG file separately. You could likely do it yourself if your consultants are willing to give you the files they generated for you. I assume they would as you hired them, but then again possibly they are protective.

For me, again I have not read your book, a scalpel will immediately convey horror. If you are trying to convey 'doctor' possibly a stethoscope but might be a bit weird. What about a head-on doctor shot with white lab coat? Again, lurking from the waves could be cool. If you go that route I would zoom in on the wave so that it is filling a good portion of the cover +- 80%. I like the dark zone at the base and the clouds also above that help the text pop.

Again, just some thoughts but suspect the scalpel/horror image will be as misleading as the gazing woman/romance. Just being honest and hope this helps.

message 17: by Haru (new)

Haru Ichiban | 255 comments How about a caduceus?

message 18: by Laura (new)

Laura Engelhardt | 73 comments All good ideas! I am thinking perhaps gloved hands with some non-threatening instruments that kind of fades out might be good. People may misunderstand as if the ocean were operating, but ... I don't know.

I am worried, honestly, that I won't be able to upload a new eBook without going back to the firm that set the print in the first place. Which is SUPER-upsetting. I do not want to pay $60 to them just to swap covers on the ebook files. I will fool around with kindle previewer and see if I can do it myself.

message 19: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 719 comments Mod
As for swapping covers:
If you're self-published on Amazon, then swapping an e-book cover should be relatively easy (I'm saying should because I only know some theory so far - I am yet to finish my debut and experience this first-hand) - look if there's a way to just upload a new image wherever in the KDP tools you set up metadata and such things. Though it's possible this would only update the cover on the kindle store and not the file that's embedded in the actual e-book (and displayed by the e-reader device) - that would require modifying the file - and if you outsourced formatting, you might need to do so again (I guess that's where the $60 would come from).

As for print, that could be more challenging. It might be easier on Amazon if you're self-published there (again, basing this on what I've read so far) - all you might need would be to upload a new file (PDF, I believe) with an updated cover.

It might be a bit tougher if you're self-published via a platform for wide distribution and you'd probably have to look at whatever interface they have for making changes to your book(s).

No idea how hard could it be if you went through a publisher.

message 20: by Haru (new)

Haru Ichiban | 255 comments I don't know what kind of work did they do for you, but as you upload your ebook to Amazon, you upload your manuscript and your cover separately. If you're in Smashwords like I am now too, you do the same. It's not hard in the least, really.
As for:
Laura wrote: "I'll go back to the cover artist & see how much he would charge to make that modification. I had a print layout company set my type & they inserted the cover into the ebook files. Does anyone know if I can make a swap myself? I only have the .epub and .mobi files & I do not want to pay them to reopen the book for such a minor switch."
I found a styling guide in Smashwords who teaches you to do that. I can't give you the link here, but you'll see it in the very first page. It's named "Smashwords Style Guide" and it's free. It's been super helpful to teach me how to style mine.
As a general rule, I wouldn't put the manuscript and the cover in the same file.

message 21: by Laura (new)

Laura Engelhardt | 73 comments All good points Haru ... except the print layout firm did insert my cover into the file. I have emailed KDP with the question of whether I can override or make that an inner page if I insert a different/new ebook cover. I'm going to make a new post in a more relevant forum to ask if anyone knows of a program I can use to edit .epub and .mobi files.


message 22: by Mark (new)

Mark Abel | 40 comments Hi Laura - When you make the EPUB and/or MOBI files for upload to Amazon, the software askes for the interior file and the cover file separately. The software then combines them. I would think the print layout firm should provide you with both files, which would allow you to replace the cover prior to making the combined file. I am not aware of being able to edit EPUB and/or MIBI files but that might be possible. I made new ones each time I made adjustments to the book and/or cover. Good Luck !

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