You know that term, starter home? It's the cute little house built for two that you buy when you're young, maybe have a child or two and feel totally squished in when you get the family pet? By then a few years have gone by and (supposedly) you have some equity with which you can buy a bigger house? One you can live in for the next many years and raise all your children?
Yeah, it didn't work that way for me either. But, that's a long winded segue into my topic of Starter Covers.
A starter cover is the first cover a book receives before getting a makeover cover.
My book Clockwise had a starter cover.
Interestingly, Clockwise was chosen for a cover challenge last week and the voting results surprised me, 12 to 11 for the original!
I still think I did the right thing by changing the look of book one before putting the rest of the series out, but chances are if I'd stuck with the first theme, it would've done as well.
The main point here for me is, as an Indie it was my choice. I wanted to change it and I did. =)
I'm not alone in this starter cover syndrome. Several of my writerly friends have changed their covers recently, some for the same reasons as me and some because they thought it was time to try something new. Traditionally published books get new covers all the time, when the paperback comes out, for instance, or to update a book or series that's been out for more than a year.
Sometimes they update too soon, and make readers angry, but I'll get to that in a minute.
Megg said: I just wanted to mix it up a bit. The old covers sold well but they've been around awhile.
Stacey said: It didn't stand out as YA. Readers couldn't tell what genre the books were just by looking at them. When they did read the books, I got complaints that the more mature upper YA subject matter didn't jibe with the illustrated covers - which made people think they were MG. Now readers love them and are picking them up because they love the covers. They are recognized as the Zellie brand now and the next trilogy will have similar covers.
Cheri said: I'm an indie author, and I love to try new ideas. I had a theory about covers with vivid images on a black background and wanted to test it out. I also knew that in the tiny thumbnail image, the beautiful swirling font of my book title is difficult to read. I wondered if that was a deterrent to potential readers, so I wanted to test that out as well.
Magan: When I first went through the whole cover design process I was looking for someting in the realm of HP Mallory with the cartooney covers. Both our books are comedic with romance, so I thought a cutesy cover would do the trick. Then the reviews started to come in and I realized alot of people weren't picking up the book because the cartoon cover was giving off a middle grade vibe and that wasn't what I wanted.
Though it's great to change covers, authors have to be careful not to annoy their fans by changing covers they might love, especially mid series. There's some talk on the 'sphere about series books getting a make over midstream. For people who bought the first book, or the first two books in the series, it's annoying when the next book no longer matches. See this post by Narratively Speaking. She's particularily upset by the recent change made to Beth Revis's covers. I for one have Ruby Red sitting on my shelf and have long waited for book two to hit shelves. I'm a little annoyed that the covers have since changed and now my series collection won't match. Plus,the collection loses value when this happens. I'll still buy it though, since I loved book 1.
Megg and Stacey both changed covers for their whole series once the series was out. I, on the other hand made the choice to change the cover theme after the first book was out, believing it would be better in the long run and hoping I wouldn't put off any of my readers who bought the first one. I didn't have a lot of readers yet at that point, and no one has complained so far. (Magan has done the same.)
What do you think about the cover updates? Does it bother you if series covers change before the series is complete?
Elle Strauss writes time travel and merfolk chic-lit, light SF and historical YA fiction. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, hanging out with friends and family, and sometimes traveling. To ward off writer's butt she does a bit of hiking, biking and yoga. Elle is married with four children and divides her time between British Columbia, Canada, and Germany. Find out more about her and her books at www.ellestraussbooks.com