You all know how much I love my Results Not Typical cover, and if you don’t it’s a lot. Green is associated with health and dieting, and that exact green is the color that Slimmit (the fictional company in the book) use in their branding – in my imagination, at least. The title font captures the spirit of the book perfectly and is big enough to survive in an e-book cover, and we managed to get across the subject matter of the book without resorting to putting any photographs of skinny women on there. It’s a cover that can be easily changed enough to go on the next book in the series while still maintaining a cohesive brand.
It’s a cover that stands out, especially since we avoided the whole pastel pink, cartoon, swirly writing chick-lit cover extravaganza that always makes me think of too-sweet candy floss and Pepto-Bismol.
That sentence right there encapsulates why I began to let my personal feelings cloud my judgement and override the facts, which ultimately led to me making a decision about my cover that involved just one person (me) when it should’ve involved millions of people, i.e. the women who might like to read Results Not Typical.
I had a thing against pinky-pink chick-lit covers. In my defense, this was because whenever my eye fell on a stack of them in a bookshop, they all seemed utterly indiscernible from one another. Most of them could’ve swapped covers and still been okay. Many of them could also have swapped titles. Neither the cover design nor the title seemed in any way specific to any book, and it turned me right off the thought of ever reading any of them.
I also resented the fact that as a woman, I was expected to be attracted to pink. But my resentment was as ironic as that Alanis Morrisette song was not (which, perhaps, is the irony…? *brain ache*), because I love, love, LOVE pink. I really do. Half the clothes in my wardrobe are somewhere near it, my first iPod was a gorgeous shade of dusty pink and my bedroom is decorated in shades of pink and purple. I even have a pink leather laptop bag.
And have you seen my blog?
So why was I getting my (pink?) knickers in a twist over pink book covers? (And I should say here that I’m of course not just talking about chick-lit covers that are literally pink, but all those that have swirly-writing, a cartoon woman and a color that suggests something girly and fun.) I really don’t know. But I started to change my mind about it a few months back when I started coming across some book covers that ticked all the chick-lit boxes, but yet really appealed to me. Beautiful covers like these:
What information about the book inside do you get from these covers? I see hints that the novels inside are going to be entertaining, possibly funny, a good few hours of escapism, about hopes, dreams and love, and fun. Fun, fun, fun. FUN! And the reason they have elements in common is because if you read and liked From Notting Hill With Love Actually (which I did; I reviewed it here), then chances are The Night Before Christmas will float your boat too, or at least be in with a chance of doing so. These covers aren’t saying anything about women – they’re only saying things about what’s in the book. And by their visual similarity, however small, they help each other out by letting readers know if you liked x, you’ll probably like this.
Plus they’d all look gorgeous on my purple book shelf in my pink room.
(Yes, my book shelves are purple. Jealous?)
The number one message about Results Not Typical that I want to get across to potential readers of it was: this book is fun. The number two message I want to get across is: this book is for women, and the third is this book is about something most of us can relate to: dieting. But yet instead of choosing a type of cover that would instantly convey these three vital points, I chose something that I liked, that I felt conveyed what the book was about. But you know what? I know what the book is about – I wrote it! So am I really the best judge of whether or not the cover conveys what’s inside? Possibly not. Probably not. Therefore instead of indulging myself, I should have been guided by the same principles that guided the designers of the covers of the books – the bestselling books – above. I should’ve put a girly-girl, swirly-writing cartoon cover on it, because I am a girly-girl, and I like swirly writing and cartoons. And I wrote the book I wanted to read, so surely the other women out there who would like this book like those things too?
This wasn’t all hypothetical: the sales of Results reflected that I’d made a mistake. They do reflect this. I promised, back when I started chronicling my self-publishing adventures on this blog, that I’d share both the successes and failures, and so I’ll be blogging about this in detail in the New Year. But in the meantime, I’ve decided to change the cover of Results‘ e-book edition. Something isn’t working, and I think it’s the green cover. My Amazon product listing is as good as it can be—clear and enticing blurb, three glowing and qualified endorsements, links to my other books—and the price is sofa change, i.e. 99c.
When I first thought of changing the cover, I toyed with the idea of an original illustration. I found out the name of the illustrator who did one of the traditionally-published covers above, and daydreamed about commissioning from her a new, girly-girl, fun – FUN! – Results Not Typical cover. But at the time I’d just put two books to bed and owed hundreds in editing and cover design fees. Who knows how much an original illustration from such an in-demand, talented artist would cost, but I was guessing it would be more than I had, and more than I, at that point, wanted to sink into a book that I wasn’t even making bus fare off of. And what, if after all that, the problem wasn’t the cover? What if the book just didn’t appeal? What if I had no chance of ever getting that money back?
I decided to conduct a little experiment. Test the waters, so to speak. I would try changing the cover into something more affordable—something girly, fun and cartoony (i.e. not photos), but affordable—and see if it made any difference. I e-mailed my cover designer extraordinaire, Andrew Brown of Design for Writers, and explained the situation. I sent him some of the covers above and a bit of a brief, and here’s what he came up with:
Isn’t it pretty? Isn’t it just adorable? Look at that font! Do you see the little sparkles?
And do you see how well it goes with my blog? You know how I love me some color co-ordination.
I love it. Love it, love it, LOVE it.
What do you think?
I’ve uploaded it to Amazon and have a couple of other tricks up my sleeve for Results, which again, I’ll be blogging about in the New Year. But I’m calling this Operation Booster Rocket, and my mission is to get Results selling at a level near or at least closer to that of my other books.
Wish me luck!
(I’ve just uploaded it, so if you go to Amazon the old cover might still be there, and the paperback will still have the green one, for now anyway.)