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Should Authors Redesign their Book Covers After Launch?



So, Girl Desecrated, my first book in The Fergus She series, has been out for six months. At first, sales were quite good. After the first month or so, sales dropped and I started advertising to increase visibility. Book reviews started to increase, and they were coming in strong (4-5 stars). Based on reviews, I knew readers were enjoying the book.

Kim Duquette rated it It was amazing
From time to time you discover a book that you just can't put down.
Girl Desecrated is that book.
A modern woman with an ancient burden.
Let the world fall down around me...I'll be reading!

But still, many click thrus to the book were not resulting in sales. So, what was wrong?

I did some research on back cover copy. Now that my novel was out, I could pinpoint my target reader a little better using data. Knowing who was reading, helped me understand how to sell - which words to choose, rhythms to use, etc.

Rhythm was really important. I did a search of books that were similar to mine and read the back copy. What I found is that length of sentences in back copy varies between genres.

For example: The romance novels have longer, more emotionally impactful sentences in their back copy.
"But when she leaves her southern home in Georgia and travels west to marry a man she had been writing to, she soon finds out that love and romance are not what she had hoped they would be." (Mail Order Bride).

The Paranormal back copy generally has mid-length sentences with a hard-hitting beat.


"Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar..." (Magic Binds).


The Crime Thriller back copy generally includes fast little jabs of details, with lots of tension-building rhythm.


"The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror. " (The Missing Ones).


Notice I keep saying "generally". These are generalizations based on my limited research and are in no way a science. However, I saw enough to change this....


It’s Rachel’s 18th birthday, and she should be happy, but she’s got big problems, big hair (hey, it’s the 80s), and big college dreams that aren’t coming true. 


to this...


If you like your decade to rock, your demons to bite, and your girls to kick it, Girl Desecrated is going to turn your crank!


So, plod on indie author - keep promoting. I did. But I didn't see the book rolling over those clicks into sales. Something was still wrong.



Then I got the first 3 star review...

"Very well written story. Would have enjoyed a little more bloodshed (Scarlett), which I'm sure is coming in the next books. I would absolutely read book 2. Overall rating for me is 3.5. "

The reader enjoyed the book, but felt it needed more blood. That was my eureka moment. Aha! If I attract readers from the wrong genre, they will be unsatisfied with my novel, no matter how well written it is. This I knew from those hundreds of podcasts I've been listening to.

I immediately decided I had cover issues. My cover was saying "Horror", but my novel content is more ... well let my reviewer tell you...

"If you’re a fan of dark fantasies and psychological thrillers with horror undertones, this novel should be added to your reading list. "

Straight up horror readers, looking for horror won't be satisfied with my novel. However, if horror readers are looking for a little spooky, psychological thriller with gothic elements, they will be satisfied. I needed to make sure I was selling what I had written.

I cranked open #Canva and started to redesign. I chose the blues and greens of paranormal, the ghostly font for half my title, and dropped in some symbols and motifs that represented the story elements of highlanders, religious fanatics, and the supernatural. I also threw a sexy dude on the back - because ... hey, the book is sexy -- the reviews say so ("if you like sexual tension...").

All done. I loved it. The cover popped. I showed it to my husband, and he said, "What are you doing? Your cover was great."

You know that sound a train makes when it throws on the brakes and the steel wheels grind sparks out of the rail?

What was I doing? 
Was I overreacting?
Was I going to redesign this cover every six months?
Was I jumping the gun?
Was I letting reviewers lead me around by the nose ring?

I thought it over for a week. Then, I made my decision. After all the branding I'd done for Girl Desecrated, and the fact that it's not true Paranormal Romance led me to the decision that the "popping" blue and green cover would never see the light of day. Other than here.


However, I would still change the cover because I realized I  did need more information in the visual form. I need those motifs and symbols to entice the "right" reader to my story.

So, back to the drawing board I go. I've currently got a number of possible proofs in the work. Which one? Which one? You're welcome to weigh in on Facebook. Just search #GirlDesecrated and let me know your choice. If you want to read the novel first, you can find it for #free at http://www.cherylcowtan.com.



I'll post again after I try out the new cover. I'm hoping it will get my book moving in the right direction (to the right reader's hands).

In the meantime, which cover do you think is more eye catching? Intriguing? Let me know in the comments.

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