The Animal Cover Dilemma

The Animal Cover Dilemma

Ever since the conception of Animal, I’ve had a vision of the cover. Nothing but the hero’s face, half of it in animal form. The title. My name. Nothing else.

Even though I haven’t finished the book, I find sometimes having a cover helps me get to “the end.”

          After outlining my idea for my cover artist, he sent me a cover with exactly what I asked for. Except I thought the guy he’d used was all wrong. Too young, too slight, too metrosexual looking. The book’s hero is a lumberjack type. Solid and strong. I need the cover to reflect that.

          I see a couple more cover ideas with different models that still don’t work. I’ve found a cover model I think will work, but he isn’t used.

          We move to a different idea because mine isn’t working. First there’s a tiger stalking a man in a forest. Great cover but the book is set in North Carolina. Next up the tiger becomes a black panther and a different figure. Nope. Try it with a couple (because it is a romance). But the couple is just standing there. I go on the stock photo sites and find the perfect couple about to kiss backlit by a campfire. A few more tweaks, taking the top of one cover and the bottom of another. A definite…maybe.

I take the possibilities to my writers group where only two other female writers are present. Their opinions? They like the original cover the best. When I ask on Facebook and Twitter? That is the preferred cover. Except…I don’t like it.

Cover artist consents to trying the look with the guy I really like who is more solid-looking. Now I’m torn. His face doesn’t seem to work as well as I hoped it would once half of him is an animal.

Enter my 30-something daughter with her opinion. She does not like “my” guy. He’s too ethnic-looking for one thing. She likes the first cover because, “He’s hot.” If she were scanning books in Amazon, she would stop at that cover and at least read the blurb. Considering she is not in my reader demographic, which seems to consist of mostly females over age 50, I have to lend weight to her opinion. She insists that cover could broaden the appeal of my books to younger readers.

In order to compare apples to apples, I ask the cover artist to arrange the two “my guy” covers along with the original using the same color and placement of title and my name, so I can decide.

You see how the proportions change and how the model looks more substantial in the second cover, right?

He says he’ll have to rebuild the original cover because I had such an aversion to it, he deleted it. Now I feel bad.

But when he sends me the covers as requested, including the reworked original, the proportions have changed. He’s moved the figure closer so he fills more of the available cover space. This makes him look more substantial and less “fragile” than he did before. It’s a small change, but now? It works.

I dread the email to my cover artist to tell him I’m going with this cover after I made him do 12 possible covers. Maybe he’s used to it by now. Because this wasn’t the first time.

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