The Trials and Tribulations of Book Covers

Book covers are often a painful business for authors.  Especially for authors who are traditionally published, when the design and final cover of their novel is completely out of their hands.  Publishers can make some seemingly insane decisions about covers and all the author can do is say “thank you”.

Barry Eisler, the thriller writer, was so unimpressed by the French edition of one of his covers (see right), that it was the last straw: He turned to self-publishing his books after that. Looking at the cover, I don’t blame him. It’s awful, isn’t it?

I’ve also been bitten by cover disasters:  Under one of my other pen names, I published a mystery with a traditional publisher, and the cover gave away who did the deed!  I was horrified and tried to talk to the publisher about it, and was told “our marketing department likes this cover, thanks.”   I was saved, sort of, when the day the book was released, Canada Post went on strike, so every copy of the book remained in cartons in my publisher’s basement.  As far as I know, they’re still there.

But even indie authors have issues with covers–although they have far more control over the final results.  Still, the limitations of stock photos, which are what the majority of covers are built upon, and the limits of their designer’s skills, dictate how the final cover comes out.  Also, the judgement and taste and experience of the author will also determine if the cover is effective, or not.

I very often find that what doesn’t thrill me as an author is exactly the cover I need to use, because it shows exactly what the genre and type of story will be, and is intriguing enough for you, the reader, to check the blurb out and maybe crack the book open and read the sample.

We authors would all love to commission original art that exactly dramatizes a scene from the book, with precise portrayals of the characters.  Alas, none of us can afford that luxury!

But with The Captain Who Broke the Rules, I lucked out big time.  My first look at the sample cover my designer sent me stole my breath away, because it captures exactly the two main characters of the story.  The scene even fits neatly into the story as I’d written it.  It was one of those perfect covers that match the story in my head so closely that not a single thing was changed on it.

The Captain Who Broke the Rules is released today on all booksellers, including my own (which actually released the book a week ago!).

Ptolemy Jovan Lane meets his next adventure.

Lane’s personal cargo is jettisoned while traveling back to Georgina’s Town after the death of a friend.  Lane confronts Captain Sandor and learns the ship is being pursued by slavers.  Captain Sandor’s response to the disaster is anything but typical. Nor is she above roping in Lane to help…

“The Captain Who Broke The Rules” is the second Ptolemy Lane space opera science fiction story by award-winning SF author Cameron Cooper.

The Ptolemy Lane Tales:
1.0: The Body in the Zero Gee Brothel
2.0: The Captain Who Broke the Rules
3.0: The Maker of Widowmakers’ Arm
…and more to come!
Space Opera Science Fiction Novelette