A Post about Book Covers

Last Friday my next book, Deadly Alliance, went to the printer. It has front-cover artwork, a back-cover blurb, and it’s been through an editor, a copyeditor, and several proofreaders. I hope that means it’s ready to go. When the book hits bookstores in April, it can begin a long career of keeping readers up past their bedtimes, offering them a new look at Yugoslavia during WWII, and introducing them to some unforgettable characters. Here’s the cover with the blurb:

When Peter Eddy and his commando team inadvertently upset the Soviets during their most recent mission, they never imagined the diplomatic nightmares that would ensue. They have one chance to redeem themselves: tasked with destroying a bridge in Nazi-occupied Bosnia, Peter and his war-weary team reluctantly agree to drop behind enemy lines. The assignment should be a simple one—were it not for the fact that they are being deployed on a suicide mission.  Genevieve Olivier is devastated by the news of Peter’s disappearance. After all they’ve endured in this war, the determined OSS worker is unwilling to simply let go of the man she hopes to spend her life with. Desperate for information, her work as a courier soon escalates into a counterintelligence duel with a Fascist assassin—and Genevieve is his newest target . . .

When Peter Eddy and his commando team inadvertently upset the Soviets during their most recent mission, they never imagined the diplomatic nightmares that would ensue. They have one chance to redeem themselves: tasked with destroying a bridge in Nazi-occupied Bosnia, Peter and his war-weary team reluctantly agree to drop behind enemy lines. The assignment should be a simple one—were it not for the fact that they are being deployed on a suicide mission.
Genevieve Olivier is devastated by the news of Peter’s disappearance. After all they’ve endured in this war, the determined OSS worker is unwilling to simply let go of the man she hopes to spend her life with. Desperate for information, her work as a courier soon escalates into a counterintelligence duel with a Fascist assassin—and Genevieve is his newest target . . .

Letting a book go is exciting, and a little scary. On one hand, I’m eager for readers to have it. On the other hand, what if I missed something? I read the final proof twice in a week looking for things that might need to be fixed. The first time I read it, I had thoughts like “this is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever written” and “where are the Kleenex?” Yes, sometimes I write things that make me cry, even though I know exactly what’s going to happen. Weird, huh? Then I read the proof a second time and my thoughts were more along the lines of “nothing feels very fresh or exciting anymore.” So while I strongly recommend reading my book once or twice when it comes out (seriously, if you only read one of my books, this is the one to read), I don’t recommend reading it six or seven times in a row over a four-month period.

Before I saw the cover, I’d been told by my publisher that they were trying to design something that would appeal more to women. In general, women buy more books, so I agreed that this was a good plan. I think my books can be enjoyed by readers who might initially pass over a cover with a creepy spy (like Espionage) or a soldier toting a Browning automatic rifle (like Sworn Enemy). I actually had a reader at a book signing decide against buying my book, because she liked strong female characters and my book cover didn’t back me up when I told her how awesome Genevieve was. So I liked the idea of a woman-friendly cover, but I was also nervous. What if it looked like a romance novel? My husband even played on that, suggesting the publisher put a picture of a muscular soldier with his shirt half ripped off and a brunette holding on to his arm. (I guess I don’t read a lot of romance, so the only romance books my husband sees are the steamy national market ones at the grocery store.) I sent my husband’s cover suggestion to my editor and we both got a laugh out of it.

Fortunately, the publisher did a good job showing that yes, Deadly Alliance is a war novel, but there is a woman involved. (Actually, there are three: Genevieve, Iuliana, and Marija.) My first reaction when I saw the cover was “who is that girl supposed to be?” but the cover has quickly grown on me. I’m glad it’s not sissy. I like the lonely soldier image, the B-24s, the big field guns, and the overall feel of the cover. It’s a good match for the text inside.

Sworn Enemy webAnd speaking of book covers, New LDS Fiction has an annual contest for best cover art. Sworn Enemy was voted best historical cover for 2013. Here’s the post. Cool, huh? New LDS Fiction even has a pretty award graphic to post with it: GenreWinner

Of course, winning a book cover contest has nothing to do with my writing ability, so I was pleased to see Sworn Enemy mentioned on Jennie Hansen’s blog. Jennie reviews books for Meridian Magazine, so she reads lots of fiction each year.  I was honored to be included in her list of 2013 favorites.

So what do you like and dislike about book covers? Have you ever judged a book by its cover and been surprised by what was inside? Was it better than you thought it would be, worse, or just different?