Descriptions for heat levels in book list

------holding hands, perhaps a gentle kiss
♥♥ ---- more kisses but no tongue-- no foreplay
♥♥♥ ---kissing, tongue, caressing, foreplay & pillow talk
♥♥♥♥ --all of above, full sexual experience including climax
♥♥♥♥♥ -all of above including coarser language and sex more frequent

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Changes to Sky Daughter and about covers

I tried this image in my blog, 'Romances with an Edge' for the buy links. It never made it to an actual cover... although....

It might seem, what with marketing a new historical novella, the Oregon historicals needing a final edit before coming out March 21 (tentative date), and a future novel to work out preliminary details and do research, that a book, which never sold well would not be on my to-do list.  

Sky Daughter, which I wrote in 2002, was a book whose characters I especially liked (hero, heroine, villain, and some wonderful elders) as well as its plot. Ironically I held it back to be one of the last contemporaries I ePublished because I thought it was one of my best. It combined many elements into what I considered as a strong story. It did have one reviewer who felt the same way: 
"SKY DAUGHTER is Rain Trueax's best, most thrilling romance novel. I feared for Maggie and the man who entered her life from the first to the end. The characters were trapped in a situation that is close to reality which makes the story more interesting and profound. One of the most basic quotes from the book is Maggie's words. "Fear makes people do bad things." This book will be most appreciated by women who like female characters who learn to use their own power to fight for their rights and male heroes who are more than just beautiful on the outside."

This is now 2½ years later and before giving it a shot at success in Select and KU, I decided it needed a new cover. The fact that it never sold a lot of books may have nothing to do with the cover. Covers are supposed to fit the book, give a clue to what a reader will find. In a book with a lot of elements, which one do you use on the cover? Romance? Paranormal? Family? Nature? Hero? Heroine? Both?

The heroine of Sky Daughter has come to her grandfather's Idaho mountain as a way to heal from disappointments and tragedies. She loves nature and was taught that by her grandmother who died years before. The thing is she didn't really know that grandmother -- at least not as well as she thought. Besides healing and growing into her own power, she finds mystery, danger, and love.  

When I wrote the book, I debated whether to make the spiritual power real or what some assume is real by tricking their minds or even using their own energy. I did research regarding experiences others had with monsters and unexplainable, frightening spirit beings. I then opted for the real deal. It was my first paranormal/fantasy with Diablo Canyon (made up of three novellas: When Fates Conspire, The Dark of the Moon, and Storm in the Canyon) following 12 years later. All of these stories are set into what feels like a real world but it's what you don't see at first look that are at their heart.

Below are Sky Daughter's many covers and the approximate order in which I tried them, with the reasons why each was eventually replaced.

In 2012, when it came out, my first attempts were painted by me. I like painting people, and this was at the point I was still naive enough to believe readers would like that. They saw it as amateur-city. It was about then that I realized, if I wanted to do my own covers, I would have to buy model images, using my photos as backgrounds. 

I could have turned those first model images painterly, but actually once I had the people, I kind of liked them. The first choices didn't do any better for attracting readers.

If showing the couple wasn't going to work, I decided to use the woman alone (and by the way, those aren't the original titles for these two. Most of the first covers were deleted awhile back with keeping only their basic images. I put the titles on them to protect them from being used by someone else. Yeah, that does happen). I was kind of going back to my first concept but with real models. The heroine went through a lot of stages as the book progressed; so I opted to try different phases.

Nice covers but didn't do any better. 

Because the book has sensuality in it... yeah, it's spicy, I thought maybe a spicier cover will work.

By this time, it is obvious I had no idea what would work, but I was into playing with images... I admit, that there's been a little of that all along. Anyway, I found creative images I liked at CanStock and bought them-- going for a little artier look.

Much as I liked the last one, it was too cluttered for a cover. I am keeping the one above it for the paperback but decided when the book went into Select and KU for the Kindle, I would give it a different emphasis and create a cover I liked-- as clearly, I had no idea what would appeal to a potential reader. 

The final cover is made from an image I bought from CanStock last year, with no idea how I'd use it. Below is a spider web. I think the two show the love my heroine has for nature, the land she has claimed now for her own, but also the trap that lingers waiting for her. I do think it's the last cover the Kindles will see. In the end, every cover has to satisfy me first... well and my publisher. This one does that (he did the titles).

Some might think that this long string of failures must be depressing-- all these attempts and none worked. But I am also a visual artist. For me, creating covers is play. Yes, I could have bought someone else's covers, but I want them to be my concepts, my art, my philosophy behind my books (with one exception, the cover for Diablo Canyon). When I am writing, it's fun to get a break. Doing covers or trailers is recreation.

What kind of cover do you prefer? Will a cover lead you to read a sample of the book or turn you off totally?