Books And Their Covers

September 7, 2014 Opinion 24

The Fall 2014 Pantone colors are used to denote genres of bookIf I ran publishing there would be no cover art. Every year authors would receive a Pantone Grid with this year’s cover colors clearly marked off. Readers would know if a book was new by it’s Pantone year. (Love Angsty Mistoricals? Radiant Orchid is your 2014 friend.) Reissues would use the color of their original publication year, eliminating confusion. Shelves would be color coded by genre and year effortlessly, allowing readers to evaluate collections at a glance. No more three armed ladies. No more oddly broken necks or disembodied torsos. Sadly, I don’t run publishing. (I know! Epic bummer!!)

As much as Romland talks contents, we talk covers. What message is this cover sending? Do I like it? Is it weird? Does it match the contents? Why does the UK get the pretty version? Where have all our Pino’s gone? How does Fabio have so many fans? (Apparently Fabio is a really nice guy who saves puppies from drowning in vats of margarine.) We all know what a bad cover looks like. A good cover? Not so much. Courtney Milan has gone on at length about how she carries a brand message across her covers. (I think she should have saved Trial By Barbed Wire for her inevitable fetish series, me.)

Back in the way back authors could turn to their publishing houses art department and hope for the best. With indie-publishing authors may be limited to stock photography. Marketing becomes a huge issue. (I hate the covers at Regency Reads. Those thumbnails look like I’m going to have to write a paper, take a pop quiz and defend my conclusions in front of the class. Anne Barbour’s books are a buck each. Anne-freaking-Barbour! I haven’t picked up any of them.) Yesterday, when Susie Felber asked what type of cover she should request for her mother’s reissues I could only say “I hate covers.” Because, well, all that stuff I already said. So I’m putting it to you guys, and tomorrow Smart Bitches, Trashy Books is doing the same. What stokes your Regency flames?  How do you know this is the Paranormal of your dreams? What makes a Beach Book follow you home?

Disclaimer: We have a firm policy against author promotion and blog tours. This doesn’t break that. Ok, yes, this totally breaks that. I’m invoking the Edith Layton Clause. Susie Felber is Edith Layton’s daughter and Edith Layton was a romance god. Her puppies wouldn’t even consider drowning in saturated fats because unlike let-me-just-oil-this-shaved-chest-Mr.-Fabio-dude Edith was on it. Tell me how to make you buy her books. Do it for the puppies.

Disclaimer the second: Some people like cats. I don’t know why. It’s apparently a thing. To those people I say yes, yes, fine. Cats are too smart to drown in fake butter. Point to you. What kind of covers do your cats like? Do we need mice? Other cats? Let’s talk about that and forget the whole dog thing ever happened.

Disclaimer the third: Bunnies? Ferrets? Sugargliders? Really? C’mon internet!! Lets just say Do It For The Furries, ok????

Disclaimer the fourth: Nobody Google that last bit, ok? Ok.

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Meoskop

Meoskop's first non-compulsory book review was in 1973. Although a hit with the 3rd grade, concerns raised by the administration necessitated an extended hiatus. Reviews resumed in 1985 but the concerns are ongoing.

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24 Responses to “Books And Their Covers”

  1. RJones

    So. I’ve got a day job in marketing, which has nothing to do with publishing, and yet… Reading your post, my first thought was “Oh merciful Zeus, she just asked for the 30 minute How To to replace two years of college courses.” I don’t necessarily know how to do it right myself, but I know the topic has huge depths. We discuss everything you covered above and more, every single day, for hours, on every part of websites, advertising, social media posts, copy, packaging, print materials, etc.

    The problem is, it’s a bunch of principles, not a certain tangible thing. You can’t just say “Put a kitten on it, books with kittens sell like crazy” because there’s really no hard rule on that. (Though it will be fascinating to hear what readers say they like to see on covers).

    So let me throw a couple principles at you…

    1. People make snap decisions on perceptions they don’t even fully register. A person will walk into a room and say “Wow this place is grungy” but if you ask them how they know, that requires a second of thought. And small things the person thinks they didn’t notice do add up. Ask a person if the baseboards in that grungy room were clean, and they probably don’t know for sure. But clean the baseboards, and a couple more little things like that, and people will stop saying the room is grungy.
    Some relevant reading: http://conversionxl.com/first-impressions-matter-the-importance-of-great-visual-design/#.

    2. Marketing isn’t about making something look “really neat”. It’s about choosing a clear message, or a hook, and conveying that in every detail. One goal of the cover is to support that marketing message, so the first step is to figure out what it is for the book. “Sexy, slightly dangerous” or “Fun, slightly humorous” or “Beauty and glamor”. I’d also say genre is publishing’s strongest marketing tool and part of your marketing message–there’s a whole subliminal language for helping readers instantly know genre, and even when you think the conventions are stupid (like big belt buckles in UF), if you can’t clearly convey genre without them you need to use them.

    3. The cover’s other goals are to jump out on a crowded page of thumbnails, to clearly convey any important text (title, author, tagline), to help readers genre-identify, and to just be generally well done and clean. I’d equate bad photoshopping to running a restaurant with a big stain on the carpet front of the front door. In theory, that doesn’t affect the patron experience, but in practice people will judge the business poorly.

    3. Everything Courtney Milan said about cover design. It was a great post. And she touches on color theory I think, which is huge, and worth finding more to read on.

    4. Visually, people love people. Done right, they find them inviting, positive, inclusive. But people are designed to make snap decisions about other people based on looks, body language and facial expression. And the wrong body language (hunched and defensive on a flirty contemporary, for example) can lead people to the wrong first impression of a book.

    On marketing materials with a huge budget done by pros, you can expect hours of discussion about body language and facial expression when working with models and reviewing materials. But trying to translate that to the stock photo world mostly ends up with slightly too thin women with strain around their eyes laughing at salads. For book covers, mostly this means a lot of looking at stock photography and asking yourself what the person’s expression conveys to you – is she running from the law? About to lick that man all over? And between those two, which does this book need?

    And a huge pet peeve for me, when trying to use two people on a cover, make sure they aren’t slightly turned away from each other, unaware of each other, and standing stiffly. That’s a total lack of connection between the two main characters on what should be a story all about how connected these two people are.

    ————

    So anyway, what should she REQUEST?
    First, you need to be able to trust your graphic designer is good. There’s just too much involved in design for the average author or author’s daughter to back seat drive a bad cover into being good.

    I highly recommend finding 3 or 4 covers similar to what you want and explaining what you like in them. It’s a nice way to communicate with designers without necessarily knowing the language.

    Provide the marketing message you’re going for. This is often more about the author’s tone than about the story. I’m sorry, I haven’t read the author’s work to help here. :/

    Throw in a couple paragraphs of description of people, events, and settings to give the graphic designer somewhere to draw ideas from.

    Include any things you know you need (such as room for a tagline or a series name or wanting one font for all books in series).

    ———

    Here’s my attempt at an example of a good cover request brief for a historical (though it’s too short). Man, I wish you weren’t looking for historical. That’s the genre I know the least about.

    Brand is high drama and high romantic tension historical. It should feel “bright” (not dark, not gritty, not flirty, not humorous), slightly serious, emotional. It’s a traditional-style historical from the 90s, so the cover should also be kind of traditional historical look – fancy font, woman in big dress.

    I’ve attached 3 covers that are very similar to what I’d like to see. I like #1 and #3 for the slightly sexy fall of the woman’s dress and the kind of swept away high drama look on her face. #2 I really like the contrast in color and I like that her face is clearly visible, a focal point of the cover. I like that none of the 3 are pink, which is really overdone. I do NOT like the fonts on #3, it’s really hard to read. I want the font to feel fancy but let’s not go overboard.

    I’m only looking for the heroine on the cover.

    The heroine is a beauty, likely to be wearing fancy clothes and have her hair up or curled and sweeping. She can be arrogant, haughty, intense or also seductive, seduced, sophisticated. Her hair is dark brown.

    The setting is 18XX London, traditional historical setting. Scenes from the book include fancy drawing rooms, balls, a couple garden lanes, one conversation in a courtyard with a horse.

    The author’s name should be VERY visible, as she’s well known and has solid brand recognition. Also, there are four books in series and we want a very uniform series look, so please choose fonts to be the same on all covers.

    ———

    And just to contrast, here’s an example of a bad cover request brief. The graphic designer might have a hard time working with it, or even if they managed everything you asked for, it still might not fit your marketing message at all.

    The cover should look really good, really pretty. We really want to do the books justice because they’re great and have a lot of fans.

    It should have the heroine on the cover in a green dress, in this exact Edwardian style because she wears that in the third scene. She has brown hair, blue eyes, her nose is kind of upturned at the end and she has a beauty mark above her left eyebrow.

    The estate looks like this castle (photo attached).

  2. Courtney Milan

    The answer to the question Susie Felber asked is, “it’s the wrong question.” It’s not “what kind of covers should I request?” It’s “what designer should I have do my covers?” At this stage of the game, if you’re talking indie publishing, the general look of the historical romance cover will be driven 95% by the cover designer and 5% by the requests made.

    I wouldn’t use covers like those at Regency Reads (namely, historical paintings) unless the books are sweet historicals sans sex scenes–because that’s what the market generally uses them for.

  3. Meoskop

    RJones – yes to alla that. I’ve found the cover conversation fascinating for decades now. Readers generally say they hate everything they actually buy. Which is why my only Fabio explanation is greasy puppies.

    Courtney – bad author, no cookie. The correct response is “Wow, yea! No wonder you deserted Anne Barbour! That’s not even a little bit irrational!”

  4. Courtney Milan

    Heh. For what it’s worth, I don’t actually like the covers at Regency Reads, and it’s not because they’re using historical paintings. It’s because the typography looks really amateurish to my eye. The whole picture-within-a-box-on-a-cover thing? No. The covers violate rules #1 & #7 on my list of “how to suck at typography.” (Here, look at me, being an even worse author and plugging my own blog! Take away all my cookies! But read my blog post! http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/2014/07/30/how-to-suck-at-typography/)

    That being said, amateurish typography appears to bother 95% of shoppers not at all.

  5. marjorie

    Why hello, meoskop from Susie’s twitter! I read your blog and had no idea that it was your blog. Brava! Excellent blog!

    So: I am the last person who should weigh in (AND YET HERE I GO). I’m pretty new to romance and I hate everything. I hate the overwrought-ness in almost every cover. Everything is so ungapatchka, with the giant dresses and ahistorical hair and makeup and the shirtless and the nipples and the crazy intense faces (at each other or at the camera). Also all the fabrics of those dresses look like they come from a discount store on Orchard Street.

    I came to romance from reading YA, and I’ve never liked photos of humans on YA covers at all. I think they’re tacky and look dated quickly, and so often they don’t match the description of the characters in the book. (It’s especially irksome in YA when the protagonist is fat and they put a skinny girl on the cover, and don’t get me started about non-white characters and whitewashed covers.) I realize there is a whole history of what romance covers are supposed to look like, and YA isn’t quite as burdened with that because it’s a newer marketing genre. But YA covers can be so funky and unusual and minimalist or double-take-inducing or type-heavy, and they often manage to convey humor or history or the general VIBE of a story much better than romance covers do. Do people feel that romance readers can’t stand for any deviation from the big dress/big hair/big pecs/saturated colors thing?

    Look at these beautiful covers that look so different from one another! Why can’t romance do this?

    http://www.pinterest.com/randomhouse/best-book-covers/

    One more thing: I only choose authors by word of mouth from smart people and by downloading a sample. I can’t tell a damn thing from a cover. They have zero impact on whether and what I buy.

  6. Ros

    I am glad you do not run publishing because I like cover art! Although I do also like to shelve my books by cover.

    I miss the old-fashioned hand-drawn cover art. I know it’s expensive to produce but I do love it. It can capture the feel of a book so much better than a stock photo. For Regency covers, I’d love to see ANYTHING that isn’t a modern wedding dress. And bonus points if it isn’t falling off the heroine. But for preference I like things with lovely embroidered fabrics, or painted fans, or a flash of petticoat round a shapely ankle. Subtle and suggestive rather than in-your-face sexy.

  7. cleo

    I’ve read a few Edith Layton’s and want to read more. I think the new covers need to convey that her bI really like the old Signet Regency covers – they very clearly said

  8. cleo

    @cleo – blast. Submitted too soon.

    I think the new covers need to convey that her books are trad regencies – they’re not wallpaper historicals, the heat level is pretty low, the writing style is a little more leisurely than current historicals.

    I really like the old Signet Regency covers – they very clearly conveyed that they were trad regencies. I also like the Georgette Heyer covers – they use historical paintings but they work for me.

  9. Ros

    marjorie: I love (a lot of) those beautiful book covers. But here’s why you don’t see them on romance novels: they don’t look like romance novels. If I want to buy a romance novel, I’m not going to pick up or click through on any one of those covers. And if I’m a romance publisher the main purpose of my cover is to make people who want to read a romance novel pick up my book or click through to the product page.

    I do think there is room for a lot more diversity in the way romance novel covers look, but then the second most important factor comes in, which is money. To achieve a cover which signals romance but breaks out of the current mould, you’re either going to have to get incredibly lucky (like, Fifty Shades lucky) or you’re going to have to pay a lot of money for a great cover designer to work on it for you. Whereas current covers with stock photos (or even exclusive ones), some photoshop and some typography can be knocked out cheaply and will reliably do the job.

  10. marjorie

    Ros, that makes sense.

    After I posted I belatedly realized (a phrase I’ve sadly used many times before, by the way) that there are covers that go OOH LOOK AT ME WITH MY HYPERREAL CUFFLINK I AM 50 SHADY and covers that say I am a big porny flower so I am erotica. And then there is the BIG SKY needed for every Western. So I was being super-reductive (and mostly thinking historicals) in kvetching about THE BIG DRESS. I’m not sure why I’m all caps-locky today, btw.

    I like the look of non-Regency historicals like Delynn Royer’s and Jenn Bennett’s. They feel DIFFERENT. And I think Susanna Kearstley’s watercolor-y blurry things look like they should be treated more seriously as books because the photography is pretty-pretty. I like the minimalism of the Outlander and Captive Prince covers, but I guess they’re Not Really Romance? I dunno. And I wish steampunky romance could do a pretty photograph or illustration of the cliches of steampunk that could make them look less cliched by the quality of the picture or the offbeatness of the composition. (Badly barrel-curled hair and a corset and a shirtless dude with some gears or goggles, veyizmir, genug.)

    Again, I buy by author recommendation, so I am not the consumer who is poking around going hm, which one of these should I click on? But is it totally not a possibility to make people go “ok, this doesn’t LOOK like a traditional romance cover but it’s by a romance publisher and it’s listed along with these other frouffy-dress-kilt-nipples-clinch-in-the-snow cliched-image books so it must be romance”? When I was on-staff at women’s mags there were RULES about covers: This many coverlines, these words sell, this color background, this kind of image, this pose, this hair. X doesn’t sell; Y does. And the book business does even less market research than the magazine business. Do we KNOW that more design-y covers don’t sell?

    Also forgot to say: I LOVE Edith Layton’s books. I love that her characters, for the most part, try to be mensches.

  11. Meoskop

    @marjorie: My Yiddish is shaking the rust off today. And there’s a lot of it. Thanks for the kind words, I am many blogged (it’s true) but this one is a group endeavor – let the praise be shared, etc.

    Like Ros said, after some genre immersion the subliminal messages are strong – Pino? Give it to me now because it’s old skool Regency. Vaguely floral house with hanging baskets? Oh, that’s Woman’s Fiction without tons of peril – (the Alice Hoffman school of Acceptable Romance Because They Break Up And The Sex Is Kind Of Average).

    You don’t even register it. I’ve picked up books that looked right and felt terribly betrayed by their blurbs. (Book! Your profile picture is lifted from Facebook! You are NOT a match!!) I’ve missed out on some authors until they changed publishers because their presentation bored me. (I am so sorry, Harlequin Presents authors. So very sorry.)

    Wait, I already said all kinds of things about marketing and complexity and purchasing cues, didn’t I? I better go read something.

  12. lawless

    @marjorie: So much so in so many ways. Despite the fact that I read a fair amount of romance these days (mostly m/f historical and contemp erotic romance with some m/m), I still don’t really consider myself a romance reader (or at least not a mainstream romance reader) because my preferences are decidedly different from those of the vast majority of romance readers. I dislike the work of some well-thought of, supposedly feminist contemp romance authors, and I am picky as all heck. I care less about the cover and more about the book. And I want diversity and something different from everyday sexism, damn it! Don’t get me started on how Dorothy Sayers’ Gaudy Night, which wasn’t written as a romance, and Mary Stewart’s novels of romantic suspense are more feminist and more romantic (to me, anyway) than most of the romances published today.

    I’ve seen so many books with covers that make me go “Huh?” I have seen so many covers with dresses that don’t match the era the books are set in. I am also so over the expected covers with people on them. I’m kind of glad 50 Shades started the trend of subtle covers for erotic romance because I like that better than the prior convention of using undressed models (not so much because of skin/morals as because it’s boring) except for the fact one cover can be hard to tell from another. (The Megan Hart books I own are examples of that.) But then that’s also true of the undressed models as well.

    Yep, I know other types of covers don’t scream “romance.” I don’t particularly care, and as a genre outlier my opinion might not matter. But that’s just another reason for me not to identify as a romance reader.

    Another example of covers that I do like? Jeannie Lin’s covers, especially the ones for her most recent books. But that’s partly because she writes about an unusual setting and era.

  13. Roslyn Holcomb

    I’m pretty indifferent to book covers, and actually prefer a plain cover with no figural representation at all. To me, there’s something, I dunno, almost juvenile about it. Having said that though, in my genre, a non-figural cover is literally the kiss of death. And I get that. The issue of representation is after all what created the genre in the first place. My readers want a clinch couple on the cover. For a very long time it was almost impossible to do because there was simply very little stock photography with black women, period, let alone black women in interracial clinches. Thanks to The Reed Files and a few other forward thinking stock providers that’s changing and I have a much easier time finding photos for my covers.

  14. Tina

    It is a bit of a conundrum. I know I am guilty of appreciating the shortcut information that a cover gives, like @RJONES said, you are processing a lot of information subconsciously and making decisions informed on years of conditioning. So yeah, when I see certain things I am comforted with knowing what to expect before even opening the book.

    However, simultaneously I feel a bit numbed with the sameness of the imagery and composition. Especially these days when confronted with so much choice and with no word of mouth or trusted review to curate a specific book for me, I am more likely than not to simply ignore it because of ennui. So when a new type of cover art invades I am more likely to pay attention to the book.

    I remember when Soulless by Gail Carriger first came out, I couldn’t NOT click on that book. The cover felt so new. Also, Mary Robinette Kowal’s ‘Without a Summer’ felt the same way. Just different and interesting. Gave character to the book.

  15. Anna Richland

    One thing to consider is the series issues. One particular cover might work, but can the motif be stretched over multiple books? Because Edith Layton, there are MANY! We are lucky. But if she chooses a particular motif, how is that going to work across 15 covers? Or is it going to be just 3 – 5 in a particular motif, and then switch? It’s a brand, as some of the posters have pointed out, not a book cover.

    So … photo of piece of jewelry, fan, glove – I think you run out of objects really quickly and are into obscure ones. If this is the direction, then maybe a list of 3 objects that could work with each book should be made ahead of any covers to see if there are enough unique cover items?

    Prints? Fabric prints, china prints, etc – perhaps making a “photo” of a person look less photographic b/c it was layered underneath the print? So the couple or person would still say romance, but the fabric/lace/gauze laid across would say “bedroom door is closed” and decrease the jarring feeling of photo covers that lots of historical readers feel?

    What about a split cover? architecture or setting (photo or drawing) on the bottom, people (again, photo or drawing) on the top, banner of Edith Layton’s name and title in the middle – because that’s the element that has to be front and center. Actually, horizontal bands have been done a lot – I have one coming out myself – so maybe vertical? That would get over how boring I often find the fashion plate covers, if the vertical element of the fashion plate was only a portion of the cover, and there was another vertical element like a section of architecture or a door or a landmark. Separating the horizontal elements is easily done with a banner of the author’s name, but how to separate vertical elements … hmm.

    But regardless – it’s a quantity issue – what’s going to link people to Edith Layton for book 7 or 10 as much as books 1 and 2, not feel stale, and have enough variety to be fresh?

    I have no earthly idea.

  16. marjorie

    Ooh, good ideas here. (And hello, Anna! I really liked First to Burn!) I do think the name is the big draw here; she’s known and loved. If the typography and (BIG) size of the name were the constant, there’s a lot of leeway with imagery. I love the notion of a printed fabric or lace plus an object (again, what with my bleah about humans on covers) — I wonder if there’s a THING in every book that would work — I don’t know which books are being reissued, but to pick at random from her oeuvre: A pair of scissors for To Wed a Stranger, the wooden leg brace for The Conquest, an urchin’s cap for The Choice…

    Or just put a cat escaping from a vat of butter on each cover. A different cat. I’d totally buy that.

  17. Evangeline Holland

    I miss the Pino covers because of the clinch+scenes from book. I don’t even want to buy reprints or e-book versions of 80s and 90s historicals because I love the original covers so much.

    In general, I wish covers were branded to the author over the genre. And why can Harlequin invest in proper cover art, but the Big 5 publishers–owned by multi-billion dollar corporations–recycle their stock art/poses/models?

  18. Meoskop

    @marjorie: Now I love you. “Omg, did you read the one with the Persian and the Parkay? It was so exotic, yet familiar! I really connected!!

    On a completely different note – did Pino ever do a cover for a book not featuring white protagonists? I think The Fireflower was a Robert Maguire cover? (Susie has the original art I think – that was my favorite book by far, controversy and all.)

    I had to go check. Here’s Edith talking about her covers. You guys, I miss her so, so much. But back to business.

  19. Susie

    Dear LITM,

    First off yes The Fireflower was R.A. Maguire and Fabio as a redhead (!) and yes, lucky me, I own it. https://twitter.com/susiefelber/status/434117412997574658 My brother Adam says he wants it but has yet to pick it up. I’m only afraid to hang it near our wood burning stove imagining a great fire of Weehawken. I also own The Duke’s Wager Alan Kass original painting and a few Avon ones. I’ve honestly thought of auctioning off Duke’s Wager for charity. If a fan got it, well I’d be happy.

    Anyway, I am overwhelmed by your generous and brilliant advice, understanding, and real-life examples. Really more than I’d hoped or dreamed of…and the only problem I have is that you don’t all agree. OK not true — no one is clamoring to see heavage — wait no — Evangeline likes ‘em and that’s good because heck Pino was talented.

    Also unexpected is the support for my mother’s books, and I’ll admit that reading your comments I got teary-eyed a few times. OK more than a few times.

    I’m posting similar on SB because they too came through in the biggest, baddest way.

    I know all the votes aren’t in so I’ll be refreshing this page only about 1000X/day.

    I will add that I too wish I could go for original illustration — I’ve a close friend who knew my mother well and still does them for Kensington, among others, and would do it on the cheap for me, but it’s still beyond my/our budget right now.

    But I’m on the hunt and you’ve given me the direction I sorely needed. And I’m still re-reading comments. Yes the Q of what Regency fans want/vs. other readers is a toughie. So too the ability to craft a beautiful cover on an ebook budget.

    As mom would say — We shall see!

    Thanks so so so much. xo
    Susie

  20. Anna Richland

    This thread made my day! First Marjorie gives my book a shout-out (making me feel as real as a Velveteen Rabbit) and THEN I followed Susie’s link to the painting. Click on it! YOU MUST CLICK.

    Seriously, that is probably the first thing in the whole world that has made me wish I signed up for twitter b/c I can’t figure out how to make twitter go onto facebook without having a twitter account (b/c I’m a dork), and I want to share that image so badly. I want to show that to Mr. Richland and explain that in the good old days authors had paintings, not jpgs.

    Thank you Susie! And by the way, everyone talks about 50 Shades and the single image on the cover – but I think that was pioneered by Amanda Quick back in the day … for Regencies, so that’s something to look at for your covers too.

  21. Merrian

    @Anna Richland: go to the tweet and click on the image – you will see a menu and be able to copy the URL and then paste that into your Facebook status

  22. Merrian

    I think the author’s name is the ‘brand’ in this situation and needs to dominate the covers. You could colour code the regencies versus other historicals with choices of background colours and I like the idea of a scattering of objects and accessories relevant to women of the day and the heroines to differentiate the books e.g. Georgian fans versus Regency fans, a Regency fan and one of those long rectangular shawls of the day, and so on.

    I don’t think the modern stock photography clinch does justice to the books or their old covers with which they will be compared by at least one of the books’ audiences. The stories are more dense (in a way I like) too so I think it’s a trap to make them too like the Regency/Historicals written at the moment which use POV and words differently. You are offering the reader an experience of Layton’s books not just a generic historical romance.

    I imagine there are two audiences:
    (1) readers who fondly remember Edith Layton books and want ebook versions and/or access to out of print stories. For this group the name is the key thing.
    (2) new readers who are likely to come to the books via word of mouth from other readers or be browsing the thumbnails on Kobo and Amazon, etc.. A simple cover that is alike to the other Layton books will help them find more of the same I think.

    I was looking at the older Layton covers showing couples and enjoying the lightness of spirit many of them display. They successfully convey an emotion that modern photography based covers are not able to do it seems to me. Such a pity that they are too costly and out of fashion.

  23. Susie

    It’s Susie, Edith Layton’s daughter again, saying thank you for the amazing comments. I am re-reading all and am amazed at how brill you all are. Thanks for being a volunteer focus group and sharing the wisdom and opinions. You gave me so much good advice. xo from Layton HQ…