The Cover (R)evolution of a Scottish Romance Novel (continued)


A few months ago I created a blog post that detailed the trials and tribulations of creating a book cover. The TLDR: version is that it was a LOT more work than I thought, and I found the process extremely difficult, but at the end I landed on something that worked.

Or so I thought.

For book 2, I used the same style, concepts and layout, and simply adjusted it for the new assets imagery and title text, and then I put it up on a great Facebook group for people’s comments (Indie Cover Project).

And, it was quickly identified as being off-genre.

And having an off-genre cover is Not a Good Thing™.

You see, above everything else, you want your cover to be on-genre. This means it’s immediately identifiable what genre the book belongs in, just by looking at the cover. Every genre has cover tropes and expectations, and if you don’t meet these, people will glance at your cover and disregard the book, thinking it’s in a different genre to what it actually is. Which is really, really bad.

I despaired, because:

  1. I’d spent a lot of time on it.
  2. It also means that the book 1 cover is also off-genre (as well as the novella).

Basically, it meant that I’d wasted my time, and needed to re-design all my existing covers, and create a new template for covers moving forward.

But every setback is a learning experience, and some fantastic people over at Indie Cover Project helped for me to understand just why it was off-genre, and how to strengthen it in terms of design. This help was absolutely invaluable, and it led me to the following design for book 2:



Now, you might notice that the design is very different from the book 1 template… and looks much like a lot of other Scottish romance covers… and that leads me to the second part of this post.

My Opinions vs the Market


I mentioned in my original blog post that I’m not necessarily a fan of the half naked man in a kilt. Not for any reason other than personal preference, and it’s not even a strong preference at that.

But the market doesn’t share this preference, and even though this cover doesn’t have a half-naked man, there’s a very good chance my revised book 1 cover will. Revising the cover theme was the first time I’d made a business decision that went directly against my personal preference. Until now, I’d never had an opinion that was in direct contradiction of market demands, so we both got along just fine.

Now, though, I’ve had to park my own preference, and it feels a little bit weird. It feels a little like giving in, which I know is ridiculous, and also probably speaks to my immaturity as a professional writer — I’m sure the dark corners of Amazon is filled with the remains of those authors who insisted they could do things their way.

I was also worried that if my cover looks like every other Scottish romance cover, then how do I stand out?

And then somebody at Indie Cover Project gave me some fantastic advice — let the story you tell be the defining point of difference. The cover is just a tool to sell the book — to get it into the hands of fans of the genre. Make it easy for them by giving them what they want, and make the barrier for entry to your story as low as possible. That really resonated with me, and certainly helped to swallow my pride.

So now… I’m off to revise the cover for A Promise to Be Kept, and The Steward of Her Heart.

Happy days!


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