The Martian Confederacy Blog

Toxic air. Bloodthirsty politicians. Drinking bears.

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Cover revisions, advice from experts and how to drive your collaborator crazy

Posted by paige on May 16, 2008

Something happened last week as I was finishing the last chapter of The Martian Confederacy. I suddenly was struck by the notion that the cover we’d so carefully crafted (featuring Lou walking over a Martian rockscape) didn’t really fit the feel of the book any longer.

This is always a challenge when creating a cover. Covers are the hardest part of the equation for me. Because in order to get the book listed in distribution catalogs the cover needs to be out there long before the actual book is off the press.

So last week in a fit of creativity I did a revised cover featuring the 3 heroes from the book: Spinner, Lou and Boone. I then sent it via email to Jason (without any warning)… I think I almost gave him a stroke. (Because I keep tweaking things.)

Jason was a good sport about it… and hopefully, Tony was around to offer CPR if he needed it.

Well, at the same time I’d sent the new cover I also sent it to two comic retailer friends of mine. I was curious to know how big a problem it would be to change the cover AFTER the Previews solicitation… and after a few weeks of online promotion.

Joe Ferrara, owner of Atlantis Fantasyworld in Santa Cruz cast his vote for the revised cover. “It is not too late to change. I definitely like the second cover with the characters. It is more interesting than a babe with a missing arm (no offense). It adds a dimension that says there is more to the book than you think.”

Kathy Bottarini, owner of the Comic Book Box in my ‘hood, said, “I’d go with the 3 character cover, it does better to introduce the 3 main characters of the book. It also looks like your previous cover designs for Jane’s World, so for your fan base, it might also feel more familiar on a subconscious level, which help to hook some of your niche market into trying a non-lesbian themed book.”

“I can understand Jason’s cardiac situation, but the reality is that most of us retailers will probably not remember what the cover looked like in Previews. I think it is a better drawing to help introduce the “team” dynamic, rather than focusing on one character that doesn’t say it’s a fun book.”

This was GREAT feedback. (Thank you!… I’m so glad I asked and I hope you don’t mind the shout out!) I’ve learned as a self-publisher that you can second guess every decision you make or you can go to the experts. Joe and Kathy are two of the best. I’ve found that comic retailers are always open to questions and I think it’s good for creators to get outside their head (and their studio) and learn from retailers about what the real world retail situation is like. And how much stress have I suffered through about the cover thumbnail for Previews… only to find out that retailers may or may not even remember that cover (understandable, give the heft of the catalog)… but think of all the stress I could have saved myself!

What really counts as Kathy further pointed out in our email exchange is the off the shelf sales. You absolutely have to get noticed on the shelf and the competition is fierce. So here’s to getting this new cover noticed!

And it is a fun book… I can hardly contain my excitement about how this collaboration with Jason (my brilliantly funny, creative-life-partner) has turned out. The book contains a cast of strong, individual characters who manage to rise above their own short-comings to do something valiant for their fellow Martians.

So what do you guys think? Do you like the revised cover?

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3 Responses to “Cover revisions, advice from experts and how to drive your collaborator crazy”

  1. The three character cover is much more exciting and dynamic (and I speak as a book designer).

  2. I’m young, I’ll bounce back.

  3. Jenn from NM said

    I like the new cover…Kathy was right-total “Jane” feel and I recognized it
    instantly and thought YAY new Paige stuff!!! 😀

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