I suppose admitting that your books have a theme that can actually teach something about human life might be a turnoff to some readers. I mean they get plenty of lectures other places and want their romance reading to be purely for fun. The thing is you can have an enjoyable read while still looking at some life lessons through the characters-- the whole thing at a distance from your own life and yet applicable if you so choose.
These two books have been out for quite awhile. The first has had pretty good sales off and on. The second never did. I think the first had an okay cover, one I had liked, but I have recently been interested in changing things around. The second has never had good sales and that's likely due to its painful subject matter. A cover won't change that.
Desert Inferno carries forth the O'Brian stories into contemporary times. The heroine's family ranch was established in the 1880s. By modern times it was having its own problems with economics, wise use of land, and its isolation. The ranch though was not at the core of this story.
It is a love story involving a woman who is an artist and has grown up with beauty. She has known nothing but love. The man she falls in love with isn't pretty, not as he sees himself and he's walked the hard and often ugly side of life. He has known nothing of love nor does he want to.
The goal of the cover is to depict someone having to let go of their protective layers, to open up their basic essence to another person. How does a cover show that?
Turned out I had the perfect image and had used it in the book's trailer and on back of the paperback. Creating this cover was easy-- just add titles.
I like writing books about people who have to let go of their protective shields-- half the time it's been her and half the time him. That emotional theme appeals to me because I see putting up protective barriers as a problem in life. We use busyness. We choose safe relationships where we won't be challenged, or we avoid them totally. We do it to protect ourselves from thinking, from being someone who will demand we peel back those layers and let them in. I think sometimes we are afraid to let ourselves see what is under them. Through my characters I try to show how this stands in the way of full living. We can let go of those masks-- and especially need to do this for our own benefit.
The next book had a similar theme. The cover wasn't actually bad in terms of revealing the problem. I knew that a new cover wasn't likely to improve its sales. It has difficult subject matter. But its existing cover began to depress me. It was a man and woman, but he was looking down with a disturbed look. She was studying him trying to figure out what was wrong. The colors were stark.
While Moon Dust is the story of a marriage on the brink of divorce and covers several big issues that our society faces, I think it has an uplifting story. There was hope, not hopelessness.
A secret is at the heart of what has gone wrong with the marriage. The soon to be ex-wife has the hope of finding and then convincing her husband he can deal with it. This couple are very much in love even while the marriage is disintegrating. There is pain but also an answer. He must (and that part isn't easy) open himself to her.
There is hope and that is the whole point of romance books. There is a happy ending, despite the travails that it may take to get there-- and this couple go through plenty, not all brought on by themselves. In the end it will work out.
That's what i like about romances. I get other kinds of endings from the newspaper and way too often.