Yes, I've read of the agony of the struggling writer-- how each book is wrung from them with blood and sweat. I confess. I have love and have fun writing. I enjoy creating covers. What I hate is accepting they won't be liked-- yes, it's a conundrum to do something you love and know others won't love it also.
When my books aren't selling, it's enough to sometimes make me want to cry. I stop and remind myself this is creative work. It is the reward just to be able to do it. Don't ask for it to be appreciated by others, but in reality we all want our work to be liked. It's unrealistic not to admit that.
Creating covers is a lovely break from thinking about the harder aspects of marketing. They are also, however, part of marketing. So with recently purchased new images, I took a hard look at my existing covers. Could any be made better?
Better means more adequately tell, in one image, the story within the book. That is the object of covers. They are meant to attract as flowers do bees. They must though depict what is within, or they are cheating the potential reader. Putting up a cover that looks wonderful, the type that has sold many books, when it has nothing to do with the book, is unfair and as a writer-- unsatisfying.
From Here to There was one of the books to which I looked. That poor book. It has had so many covers-- the most of any of mine-- a few of its rejected covers.
I love its story, plot, characters. It is about human relationships, several kinds, and the world of cattle raising. But one cover after another didn't get that across. Well, there is no use crying over spilt milk--onward and upward is my motto-- both likely cliches. (One I took from a friend who used it often).
So when I re-edited that book, I decided to once again look at its cover. What could I use instead of what I have tried? The most recent one represented the western cowboy-- a major theme of the book. I liked it but can't say it was helping sell the book.
Part of the problem possibly was-- what does this cover say in regards the romance? The guy on the cover looks like the hero in the book. That was a plus. He also illustrates the underlying theme of ranch life. But was that really enough?
Looking at the book itself and its deeper themes, what did that cover do for illustrating them? It's about the modern west, cowboys, ranch living, illusions and how sometimes what we think is not real turns out it is. It's about families, relationships, love, sexuality, animals, and how we can do what we must-- with enough motivation. Obviously I can't get all that onto a cover.
I went looking through my images, found one I had bought just because I loved it with no idea how I could use it. Next I looked for images that could represent the hero and heroine. I found one that had the right look and only took a little adjusting to look like them.
The next step was playing around to see how I could put the two images together in a way that depicted the energy and love of the West.
Will it help attract readers? I have no idea, but it definitely does the book more justice in terms of beauty and vitality. For readers who hate the very idea of romances, it will ward them off. For someone who would enjoy a romance that offers two stories of how love can come together, one told through an old journal, well that part I could not get onto the cover or it'd be cluttered. You just cannot get it all one one cover... I don't think anyway.
That wasn't the end of rethinking covers. At this point, I was taking an art break before my next editing job (three books I have not decided to ePublish) before getting back to finishing writing fourth in that series (Oregon historicals).