On Covers and Adjusting When It’s Just Not Working

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You might not know this, but I agonize over my book covers. When you have one shot to entice someone to grab your book off the virtual shelf, first impressions are everything. I am the first one to admit that I’ve gotten it wrong. Like, a lot. If your book isn’t immediately screaming your genre and what to expect to your potential readers, it’s the first thing you HAVE to change. If you are getting it wrong, you’re missing the boat.

Do not wait. Do not pass go. Change it as soon as you are able.

Because I know that lots of people love the old cover/new cover comparisons. I thought I’d go back over the last two years of my self-publishing journey and share a few of mine with you. As evidenced below, you’ll see that I’ve never backed away from changing a cover if it just wasn’t working (at least eventually).

I’d also like to preface this by saying that I’ve enjoyed working with every cover designer I’ve ever had and changing the cover in no way reflects on their work.

Believe me- it’s all me. 🙂

Edge of Shadows

Have you been hanging around with me since the beginning? If so, you might remember the original cover to my very first book, Edge of Shadows. To me, it had an old-timey wallpaper kind of feel to it that represented something you could see in the old, haunted Bradford mansion. Although I did have early success with it, once I changed it over to the current cover when I released the second book in the series, Shadows Deep, I noticed an immediate uptick in sales. It definitely says “ghost story” now with that creepy face over the stairs, don’t you think?

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The Soul Ripper (aka The Soul Garden)

Struggle, struggle, struggle. Toil and trouble. I have had nothing but heartburn branding the Twisted Souls series since the beginning. It is such an unusual story. Yes, it has zombies in it, but that’s not what it’s all about. It’s about good triumphing over evil and about finding out that when destiny calls, you have to answer whether you want to or not. The end was especially bittersweet for that reason.

But it all began at the base of the Fountain of Souls inside The Soul Garden. I thought the original cover was so cool and symbolic, but ultimately it really didn’t convey “sci-fi dystopian”. I liked the second cover with the bony hand and the grave, but it was a pre-made that was supposed to be nothing more than a placeholder for a few months. I just changed it again two months ago when I changed the title- and I can say with almost certainty that this will not be the last cover. Now that the series is complete, I think I can wrap my head around branding it in its forever covers.

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(Original)

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(2nd cover)

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(Current cover)

 

 

 

Heiress of Lies

It’s funny how the books that you expect to be the easiest to design end up being so difficult. I mean, YA paranormal is pretty set in what readers expect to see on the front cover. The pretty girl in the pretty dress with some kind of spooky background is something you can’t get away from. I started out in that vein, so it seems counterintuitive that Heiress of Lies has had the most covers changes of any of my books- and yet is has.

Well, fourth times the charm. I felt so good  and certain that I had finally hit on this series “forever covers” that I even moved forward with converting this series into paperback.

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(Original cover)

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(2nd cover)

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(3rd cover)

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FINAL!!

So what do you think about all of my cover swaps? How much does the cover affect your decision to pick up a book? Sound off in the comments below!

(Header Photo credit Zach Klein)

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The Twisted Souls Journey is Complete!

As a series writer, there is always a bit of sadness that comes along with finishing the whole story. I had no idea of the adventures that Samuel, Cameron, and Marius would take me on when I met them two years ago in The Soul Ripper (previously known at The Soul Garden). It has been a wild ride for all of them, and the end is bittersweet in more ways than one.

For those of you wondering, I’ve always known how this one was going to end, but their journey to that conclusion was the part that was the mystery to me. I hope the end resonates with you as it did me.

Now that the series is complete, all of the covers got a much-needed facelift that hopefully conveys the story arc a bit better. I’ve also released the box set- readers can get a 25% discount by buying all four books together (deal!).

If you are a Twisted Souls fan, please be sure to drop me a line and let me know what you thought of the ending. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Reading!

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It’s Alive!! The Twisted Souls Series Continues…

There is nothing quite like hitting the “Publish” button on a new book. I got to experience that for the fifth time in my writing career last night when I uploaded Twisted Souls (Twisted Souls #2) to Amazon last night.

This second installment of the Twisted Souls series catches up with Cameron, Samuel, Malcom, Bishop, and yes, even Marius and Chim, nine months after the events in The Soul Garden. You may remember that Marius and Chim were wreaking havoc in the Office of Souls compound creating a horde of soulless ones (aka zombies!).  Well, at the point where this story picks up again, there are a whole lot more soulless ones out there. That’s not good for our heroes.

My goal with this series was always to write a zombie tale with completely new mythology on the origin of how zombies are created. There are some vague sci-fi elements here (a dystopian society, it’s set in the future, etc.) but I really wanted to create some complex characters who are forced to deal with some pretty scary stuff while fighting for what they ultimately believe in and are willing to die for. I don’t go for blood and guts (although there are some) because I like to play with the things that you DON’T see that can still get you. 🙂

I’m thrilled to share this next part of the story with you, and I can’t wait to hear what you think, so leave me a comment, shoot me an email (cege@cegesmith), or stop by my Facebook page.

Happy Reading!

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