A Game, Give Your Opinion….

I need your opinions, folks.

It has been my experience that the New York publishers allow authors little or no opinions or suggestions on cover designs. Nor do they allow authors to have the cover art once a book has gone out of print. They own the cover art, you see.

Consequently, if an author self-publishes an out-of-print book in this brave new world of publishing, he/she has to come up with new cover art. So here’s the game. Below are the books I’ve self-published. I’m showing the original covers done by the art department of one of the Big 6 in New York, alongside the new covers I’ve designed or had designed by a cover artist. And I’m asking what you think.

This is an important question. The cover is one of the most important marketing tools for books. The object is for it to be so appealing, a reader will feel compelled to grab it off a book store’s shelf and look it over. Here goes…..

The first one is SWEET WATER. The cover on the left was designed by my former publisher’s very fine art department. The one on the right was designed by this wonderful cover artist I found. The art is great in both of them, but the question is, which would be more apt to make you buy this book?

The second one is SALVATION, TEXAS. The one on the left was done by the publisher’s art department. The one on the right was actually done by me, if you can believe that, in Photoshop. Same question. Which one would make you most likely to buy the book?


And here’s the third one, THE LOVE OF A STRANGER.

And I’m saving the best for last. I have not yet uploaded THE LOVE OF A COWBOY to Amazon for Kindle and Barnes & Noble for Nook, but I have the new cover. And I’m unveiling it today, right here, right now, for the first time. I personally think it’s fabulous, fantastic and just downright beautiful. I’m so in love with it, I can hear orchestra music in the background when I look at it.   …..  Let me know what *you* think. Again, the one on the left was done by the publisher’s art department and the one of the right was done by the wonderful new graphic artist I found.

Don’t be bashful. I need your honest opinions. I have books to publish and books to write in the future and I need to know how to dress them up.

Thanks, folks.


Filed under Books and Publishing

19 responses to “A Game, Give Your Opinion….

  1. I’ll be honest (which, I realize is what you’re looking for). On the first three, the new covers on the right make me say, “Hubba hubba!!!” and I’d grab it. Books with pictures of cute young gals makes me think of the books my teenage daughters would buy, so I probably wouldn’t give it a second glance. The fourth cover is a toss-up. They’re pretty, and I like the stormy sky, but unless I was following the series, I’d glance but not buy. Another honesty point: now that I’ve gone e-reader, it’s the titles that grab my attention, and if I get hooked by the story of a certain author, I end up buying others she’s written. It’s how I started with the Dixie Cash series, and then fell in love with the characters.


    • Hi, Tracy…..Thanks for commenting. Isn’t it funny how pictures affect us. I thought the story sky and the mountain and the running horses was dramatic and majestic, which was what I thought I wanted for the cover of COWBOY. It’s sort of a *big* story, even though it’s a romance. But now I’m nervous that people will be turned off by it. Oh, well, if it doesn’t work, I can always have it re-designed.
      Anna J


  2. 1, 2, 1, either

    on 1…2 is just over the top

    on 2, you can’t do 1 on 2 as it looks like 1 on 1…besides, i like the guy’s face…cutie!

    on 3, 2 leaves not mystery while 1 with the lonely house and the truck sending up dust is …who’s in the house …who’s in the truck …why is the truck seeming to be in such a hurry!

    on 4, 1 at sunset with the cowboy riding on the horizon seems sort of romantic and i wonder is he going to or from…is she going to have to let him go? the stormy one…it feels like people are running away….from what, why…the storm?

    hope this helps!


  3. Deanna Stillings

    I like the new ones just as well!!!


  4. The last one is a toss up, but the first you did are much better. I’ve told you I think pretty girls on a cover don’t attract women readers. I do like the pickup driving toward the house, but also like the new one.


  5. On the first two, I have to disagree with Tracy. I like the women on the covers, because I want to identify with them and I want the book to be about them. The guys make me think the book is more about them than the women. Plus, the guy’s eyes on the Salvation cover are way too blue. At this stage of my life, I want the women to be the central characters and ditch the guys if they want to. I like the new Stranger cover. As for the Cowboy covers, I’m torn. The newer cover has vibrant colors but a menacing look, and it makes me think the main characters may have a stormy relationship. I don’t want to be stuck on the prairie with horses running away and a major tornado coming. The original cover is more peaceful and quiet, something I like about the country. It looks like a place I’d like to go to instead of running away from.

    Tracy is exactly right on what may be the most important point. Reading 10 pages of your first novel sold me on the book and you as an author. Once people have read your books, they’ll read whatever you’ve written.


    • Hi, Mary…. I suppose New York’s idea was to show the books as “women’s fiction.” Since my books have been about a little more than just a romance, maybe their intention was to get away from the “clench” cover. And I have to say, I’ve had better luck with that than a lot of the authors. One thing I would never do, though, is criticize the art itself. Even if I wasn’t happy with the cover interpretation, I never thought the art was bad.
      Anna J


  6. Di Native Texan

    Anna, I would buy your book or ebook if I saw your name but, Tracy is right – ebooks (the new wave) sell by titles many times although we still see the covers. Covers definitely make a huge diff. Your covers are QUALITY even compared to big money publishers.
    All your new covers are great but, to be specific Sweetwater is excellent as hunks seem to catch the eye. Personally I like the ‘real cowboy look’ with a tip of a stetson or backside of a cowboy with his boot on the corral or fence. I know most ppl who read western romance would not know what’s real anyway but, I do.
    Salvation Texas – your cover is again excellent – I’m not wild about the hat (call me picky) you did ask though to be honest.
    The Love of a Stranger – Your cover is very good but, as I stated once before in your blog – I prefer the original as it is so ‘country’.
    The Love of a Cowboy – your cover is excellent – I can see why you love it. Small comment – Horses sell on book covers and some authors put them on covers when it’s hardly even a western. Love your horses but, not sure why they are running thru a rowed field.
    It’s all harder than it looks and you did superior work – give you lots of gold stars on all. You go girl!


    • Hi, Di….Thanks for stopping by. It’s interesting, isn’t it how the pictures affect different people. Everything in New York publishing is done by committee, so they have cover art meetings where the editors and the marketing people and the artists all get together and try to come up with an interpretation that will sell the book. More often than not, the cover doesn’t even resemble the story, but they think it will sell the book. I’ve tried to make the covers I’m responsible sort of reflect the story inside the cover


  7. Peggy

    First I have to shamefully admit that haven’t read any of these.
    SweetWater…I like the highway..well, the open shirt isn’t too shabby either;
    Salvation..I like the brown dusty background and his gaze, I think they invite suspense;
    Love of a Stranger….the pickup
    Love of a cowboy….hum? Maybe your longhorn picture you have on one of your blogs.
    Since I don’t actually know the stories, I feel I am no help on this matter. But I do wish you the best of luck with your sells.


  8. Kerstin

    Call me tame, but I am not so hot about the chiseled naked male chest/torso covers that are in vogue today, too much information. …And if they have tatoos, forget it. It is like too much sugar in your coffee, bold but overpowering.
    Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing sexier than a cowboy. I love western romance. But when it comes to romance novel covers in general I never liked the fact that with way too many you wouldn’t want your children and young teenagers to see them. In fact, while raising our boys, I just passed those up completely. There are plenty other options to choose from in the romance section. As a parent you have the responsibility to discern what is age appropriate. The cover art of a mass paperback lying on the coffee table includes that. Unfortunately our culture is exceedingly unconcerned to these nuances. I am sure marketing of the publishers and their target audience/demographics plays a role as well. I’ve had conversations about this very topic with other mothers before, and for the most part they echoed my concerns. The advent of ereaders is such a blessing in that regard. The cover art is no longer an issue!
    Put it all together, when years ago I first chose among the myriad of options in the romance aisle one of your paperbacks Anne, the G-Rated cover had a lot to do with it.


    • Hi, Kerstin…Okay, I’m calling you *tame.* LOL ….. Half-naked men, and in some cases, maybe all-naked men, are the hottest thing in cover design right now. And they seem to get more and more daring. But if so many covers have half-naked men on them, do they soon become invisible or a contest between which naked man looks better than another? I mean how many physiques can you examine to determine if a book is one you want to read? I’m just saying….
      Anna J


      • Kerstin

        Hi Anna,
        Good point…and I have the perfect deus ex machina: I have a kindle 🙂
        I think your strongest new cover is “Love of a Stranger.” It is intriguing on many levels. But they are all good. There are many ways of looking at at cover art. The worst mistake is a sloppy or unprofessional job. The difficulty for any self-publishing author is to discern where you want to go with your covers now that you have full control. I imagine it is very rewarding but also fraught with pitfalls. I think you are very smart, Anna. First, you follow the current trends closely, second, you make the effort to make them as attractive and sophisticated as you can. From my vantage point you’re on the right track.
        Just my “tame” two cents worth 🙂


      • Thanks for the good words, Kerstin. I do try hard. The covers have always been important to me. ….. But just like the books themselves, there are trendsin covers that ebb and flow. For example, right now, we’re starting to see more colorful covers that have quaint little cottages on them, surrounded by flowers and trees. I don’t know when or where this trend began, but it will be interesting to see how long it lasts. … There is also a trend for stories to be softer and sweeter. I’m not sure, but all of this might have originated with Debbie Macomber’s books. No industry is more adept at copy-catting than the publishing industry. That’s why every other book these days is a paranormal aimed at young adults.
        Anna J


  9. Thank you, everyone, who stopped by an read the blog. I had a record number of visits this past week. And I want to thank those who commented. The comments were smart and revealing and I appreciate every one of them. They were also diverse, which goes to show the challenge in choosing just the right picture that will appeal to an individual’s taste and trigger button. Interesting, huh? …. Next, we’ll discuss titles.


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