You Tell Me: What’s In A Cover?

You Tell Me: What’s In A Cover?

Posted by on Jul 30, 2012 in Protector Series, Publishing, Random, Rant And Ramble, Writing | 8 comments

In the middle of last month, my daily routine changed quite a bit. My wife went back to work after her maternity leave ended, and rather than pay for day care, I opted to go part-time at my job. This has been a massive adjustment for everyone, and in turn, my writing routine has gone out the window.

The adjustment came at an awkward time, since I was just starting the third book in the Protector series, and  as such, my timeline has been severely augmented. I’ve been off and on with writing, some weeks not even opening my manuscript, but over the last ten days I’ve managed to put together some semblance of a routine.  And the routine is paying off.
I wrote about 30k words in that time, and I’m about 70% done with the first draft of my manuscript. My goal is to be completely finished with it by Sunday, August, 5th. Achieving this goal will be some serious work. I need to produce 40k – 60k words over 6 days, but with how well the story has been flowing this draft, I’m fairly certain if I put on my special focusing hat, I can make it happen.
As this draft comes to an end, I’m putting my extra bits and pieces of creativity into cover art and title. I’ve been toying with a few ideas but haven’t taken anything too seriously because, well, I don’t generally set those sort of ideas on the burner until draft one is complete. As I was brainstorming to the cover, it was of brought to my attention that my book series covers don’t look like a set. I mean, side by side, the covers don’t exactly look like they belong together. At first, I was a little bit stressed out about it, but then I realized that is something that works for this series…I think. 
Each book has a different tone, and because of this, that is reflected in the cover. Now I love my covers, but part of me wished I’d gone in a different direction to make them similar, the other part of me however, is so happy I didn’t. 
I understand the purpose of matching cover art and having each installment look cohesive with the next, but I like the way my books look next to one another. I like how when you’re done reading them, the cover  represents something different than it did before you started. Each cover tells a story in itself, and it’s a completely separate style of art from the writing. That’s distinctive to my work, and I like that distinction. 
When you line a series of books up, generally you can see they’re all matching in some form. I like that mine are each a separate representation of the story within. I want the cover of a book to tell me something. Before I start reading it, I want my imagination to run away, imagining what sort of adventure might be lost inside those pages. When I’m done, I want that cover to mean something more to me. I want it to add to the depth of the journey I’ve just taken. Now covers, along with writing, and most things in life, are subjective, so I want you to tell me what you think.
What do you love in a cover?
What do you hate?
I know it drives people CRAZY when publishers change the series’ covers midway through the series, so you end up with mismatched covers, but what about when they don’t match at the beginning?
And lastly, to add to this slew of questions, what do you want in a cover? Do you want to see the characters faces, do you prefer when it’s left up to your imagination, do you want something symbolic, or something that tells a story all it’s own?
Share your thoughts! 


  1. I like the covers the way they are. Looking at Shift and Exiled side by side, I think you can tell they were done by the same person. Also, I think it's cool how they tell a story on their own. Most series covers just have one aspect of the story that it best represents. This is a nice difference and it's good to set yourself apart in some way.

    • Thanks Patricia, I really love them so I won't be switching them up, and I'm glad I'm not alone in that. 🙂

  2. I see quite a bit of connection between your two covers! The orange color and the burning fire, for one. 🙂 I think it's more important that a cover captivates imagination than that it matches anything else that's put next to it. And good luck on finishing your 3rd MS on time! That's quite a goal you've set!

    • Thanks Elise! I know, my eyes might be bigger than my stomach for this one, but I'll be busting my knuckles trying to make it happen. As long as the story is coming, forcing it in a rush never did anyone a lot of good.

  3. First off, let me just say that your covers are great, and I too agree that they do look like they belong together. When it comes to books in a series it doesn't bother me if all the covers are different. I personally like my covers to tell their own story and to get me excited to read the story. That's what a cover should do, get you pumped for the story and in the end mean something to you. I have read many books where I don't understand the cover choices. I think if it speaks to you, it will more than likely speak to your readers! I say go with your gut and keep doing what your doing!!!! Good Luck…I can't wait to read book 3.

    • Hey Danielle!

      Thank you for your thoughts. Naturally, I completely agree with you. I love those covers that draw you in, and for me personally, it doesn't really bother me if they all look different, as long as they jive with the story.

      I can't wait to share this story with you!

  4. Yeah so I like your covers for the very reasons you are talking about – they mean something to the story. And you're right, the meaning changes as you read the story. It makes your covers different and stand out among YA. So many YA books are pretty girls in dresses that have nothing to do with what's inside the pages. I always love covers that mean something more, yet grab your attention. Yours do that.

    I also agree that they do go together. It's like the elements connect them- which is the story. I, personally, had thought you did that on purpose and thought it was brilliant.

    More of the same please!


    • Oh don't get me wrong, I LOVE my covers. And the elements in each cover are represented in the story; that wasn't an accident.

      I guess my concern was if it mattered to everyone else, as readers. I was curious to see if readers preferred a less distinct cover, in favor for something that matched a little more.

      I am VERY happy to see that isn't the case, because I don't plan on changing these bad boys 🙂 Ideas for book 3's cover have started rolling in and I'm getting excited!!!

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