Let me make something abundantly clear. I love these covers, and while they are actually the ‘third’ edition to me, they are the ‘first’ edition to almost everyone who’s read my books. The are the books, and for most of the readers, I think by the time they reach the last page, they agree that they’re perfectly suitable for our quirky and creative Emi.
At the time of the design of these two years ago (and I still can’t believe it was that long ago), I needed covers that said something about the books. I was going through a phase when I couldn’t get enough of Indie-artist-designed posters for Indie-bands. I loved the hand-drawn illustrations of the Decemberists posters, and I happened to know someone who could do those kind of drawings.
After we began the cover design process, I quickly realized that the cool quality of these quirky sketches probably wouldn’t be accepted mainstream, especially for a contemporary fiction book that bordered on romance. So I didn’t have the artist, Summer, go too off-beat with them. They were still illustrations, though, and not photos of couples in the heat of passion, so I knew they’d stand out in the genre. I wasn’t sure if they’d stand out in a good or bad way, but I was willing to take a chance on them.
In so doing, I have built a fan-base of very loyal readers who recognize the uniqueness of the series and appreciate the non-conformist book design. They associate Summer’s beautiful drawings with Emi Lost & Found, and most of them have grown quite attached to them. In my opinion, they have built a brand that I am still a little afraid to move away from.
When I told my inner circle that I was going to redesign, I got mixed responses. Some were very much in the “I love the covers” camp, and they were nervous about what I would come up with (and I don’t blame them). Others were honest, and said that they felt these covers hindered mainstream acceptance of my books. I’d read one too many wonderful reviews that hinged on the statement, “if you judge books by their covers, don’t do that with these.” These covers turned out to be quite divisive. People either loved them or hated them.
Two women in Florida – Christi and Katrina – approached me after my Book Bash experience last year. They hadn’t heard of me at the time, but one of them was drawn to my table by my covers. She loved them, and it touched me. They read my books, and they loved them. Both have a ton of creativity, and express it through photography, art and design. Their book blog takes photos inspired by the books they love, and they did a photo shoot for Emi Lost & Found. Katrina did a beautiful painting of Emi for me, and Christi sent me a gorgeous print of my quirky, illustrated books in a very Nate-centric setting. I love them both.
Together, we began brainstorming new covers using photography. I knew long ago that, deep down, these particular covers should feature actual people, photographed professionally. I am not a fan of stock photography because I see way too many Indie books using the same damn pictures, over and over again… and if I’ve learned anything from past hobbies, it’s that I am most certainly not a photographer.
Christi and Katrina could help me get covers using original photography and wonderful art direction. Katrina’s schedule got very hectic, so after the photos were taken, Christi spent hours pouring over the photos, drafting up designs for me to look at and dealing with my nit-picky self (but I swear, I’m not that bad). They both would meet up at Starbucks and brainstorm some more. What they’ve come up with is far beyond what I was expecting.
They found our Emi. They captured the feeling of each book, because they were fans of the books. So much heart and soul has been poured into them, and I really think that will show through in the end. They still don’t feature couples in the heat of passion. They all feature Emi and Emi alone, which a lot of people that I discussed the new covers with were unsure about. They felt couples would be better, but I didn’t. If you’ve read the books, you’d know that even pictures alone could completely spoil the series. In the beginning, middle, and end, these are Emi’s books… it’s her life and her story. Everyone needs to keep that in mind when reading, and I think this will be a good reminder.
So, that’s how we got here. This week, we will reveal the new cover for the bundled series e-book. In the coming days/weeks, we will reveal the new covers for Not Today, But Someday, Lost and Found, Time Stands Still and Never Look Back. A handful of people have seen them, and I am happy to report that they all selected different covers as their favorites, so I really think they will appeal to a much wider market of readers.
If I’m going to achieve my dream of writing full time, I have to do everything I can to support and feature my books in a positive way that appeals to more people. That’s the truth. I know the books themselves are good. The series rates at 4.67 stars on Goodreads and 4.8 on Amazon… I believe in the stories. So do my loyal readers. Now I just need to get more of those loyal readers, and I think having these new covers will help me reach my goals.
I will always cherish my illustrated covers, though. They are special to me in a way that many people don’t understand. The new covers are equally beautiful in their own way, though, and I hope they find a place in peoples’ hearts, too. They’ve already found a home in mine.