Before we dive anything further into the waters of this post, let me clarify we’re talking about books and book covers here. Sorry to disappoint anyone hoping to see butts and boobies.
Okay, for the one precent of you who are still reading, let’s jump in because it’s time for a cover reveal!!! And perhaps a little cover survey because I’m perpetually indecisive.
Last time I told you all about naming my work-in-progress, The Cassie Black Trilogy. If you missed that wild ride, just head to “The Trilogy Has Titles!“.
And now that Cassie’s books have been named, I can’t keep letting them run around naked. Which means it’s time for creating some book covers.
Which, I’m just going to say, has been a looonggggg process of brainstorming, comparing, creating, ditching, returning to the drawing board, redesigning, and doing all over and over again.
Don’t worry, I won’t go over every little bit of that process, let’s just say Mr Husband has threatened divorce if I show him one more cover, and now runs like a gazelle when I turn the computer to him and say, “What do you think of this one?”
Okay, onto the evolution of a cover….
Elementary, My Dear Watson!
The elements of the books I wanted to work into the covers were the magic, the humor, something to do with death or mystery, and possibly the setting. I also needed a style that could be easily adjusted for each of the three books in the trilogy to keep everything “on brand”.
And I really wanted a cat. Why? Well, there is a cat in book one, but he has a small role. I think I just figured a cat tied in well with magic. Plus, I like cats.
My first cover…well, it had a cat and it kind of had a hint of magic.
But humor? I guess the font is light-hearted. The death and/or mystery? Not so much. Also, while I could swap out the cat for a raven for book two (The Uncanny Raven Winston) I had no idea what I’d do with the third book (The Untangled Cassie Black).
Trying for Comp Authors, Part One
It was time to get inspiration from others. Besides the undead, there’s witches and an underlying mystery in the books. So, I searched for witch mysteries and found a bunch of cover examples. Hoorah!!
I hit the design board and came up with this (I still hadn’t fully worked out the title).
I really loved this cover! It had a little mystery, a little magic, a hint of death, and a cat. The background color could be changed with each book, making it easily adaptable.
Then I actually read a few of those books I was comparing mine to. Unfortunately, they were NOTHING like what I’d written. They were all overly cutesy cosy mysteries without much substance, plot, or story to them (many I could barely get through the first 20 pages).
I felt like anyone picking up my book hoping it was like these other witch mysteries would be sorely disappointed.
Trying for Comp Authors, Part Two
So what were my books like? Plenty of dark and snarky humor, someone fumbling to fit into a world they didn’t know existed, and characters taking a winking nod at death.
The humor had me thinking of Christopher Moore, especially his Bloodsucking Fiends series. And when I played around looking at his books, Terry Pratchett’s books kept coming up.
These were getting closer and I liked the cover style with the bold titles and the image centered, so I tried my hand at one.
I really liked this cover, but Mr. Husband pointed out there’s nothing in the book to do with a graveyard or a tombstone. And, while I like it, it does look a little bit “kiddie”.
Third Time’s a Charm?
Okay, now that I knew the tone, I needed to delve a bit further.
The books that truly inspired my trilogy are the Peter Grant books by Ben Aaronovitch. I’ll go into that influence soon, but let’s just say that if you like that series, you’ll probably like The Cassie Black Trilogy.
When playing around looking at Aaronovitch’s covers, I came across the Inspector Hobbes series and a few other similar books. I knew I’d finally found the style I wanted. I especially liked the shapes, colors, and strong graphics of these comp titles.
Re-thinking What I Really Needed
I worked with these and re-evaluated what I really wanted from the covers.
- I think my titles themselves convey a little hint of humor, so I didn’t need the covers to be silly.
- A watch plays a very significant role throughout the books, so I wanted to hint at that with gears.
- I wanted to play with something that showed the locations, and I wanted the title to (mostly) take center stage.
This is what I came up with — after a lot of playing around with moving those gears fractions of a centimeter over and over to get them just right. Seriously, I can’t believe how much time I spent moving those damn things.
Book One takes place entirely in Portland, Oregon, hence the Portland skyline. Book Two takes mostly in London, and you’ve got your London skyline on that one. But Book Three was tricky. I didn’t want the same skyline that was on the first two, but wasn’t sure what to do.
But wait, that book takes place in both London and Portland…why not combine the skylines?!! If you looks closely, you’ll see it’s a merged image of the skylines from one and two. Clever, eh?
(Note: I haven’t paid for these covers yet, so there’s still watermarks all over them).
But What About the Cat?
I know! I really wanted a cat. And I do have a variation of the first cover with a cat…I just love this guy’s snarky expression. But he just didn’t seem to fit. There’s something about this that feels off and unbalanced to me.
But what do you think? Do you like this better than the first cover above? (Note: The cat somehow got slightly off center, but that can be easily fixed.) Do you like the covers I’ve settled on? Any suggestions for things you might change?
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If you want to get your hands on that sample, be sure to sign up today. You’ll also get my short story Mrs. Morris Meets Death as a sign-up gift..