Cover Design Poll Thoughts

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I can’t recall if I mentioned on this blog that I am working with a company called 99 Designs to create the book cover for this Florida crime fiction comedy caper series, The Naked Eye Series. The first book in the series, Naked Alliances, isn’t as much a caper as it is an adventure, but it does have situational comedy, sparring, and some really funny scenes like you see in true capers. It’s a finite niche genre for certain.

For 99 Designs, you start a contest, designers submit cover images and you ask for changes or eliminate those that don’t work. Working with designers until you have a final concept.

Crime and humor is a challenging blend, but a lot of fun to write.

Good comedy caper series develop over time as the ancillary characters become more central to the stories. I’ve seen it happen with characters like Serge and Coleman, Skink, Ike, and Bert the Shirt. Memorable characters in the series that weren’t in the foreground of initial books, but became iconic characters for the author. Sometimes accidentally.

The best authors never put their characters images on their covers, but leave it to readers to develop a mental image of them.

Tough and serious crimes are portrayed by humorous images, often from something pulled out of the story. It could be something as simple as a sign, a bleeding orange, or a car tag…but it has to scream Florida.

With 99 Designs, I asked for a cover for Florida Crime fiction with humorous undertones. I was swamped with hard core crime covers…and many just couldn’t let go of the gritty, hard core photographic images…no matter how much I pleaded for more comedic and less photographic images. I gave tons of suggestions. And finally, picked the six most hopeful designers to go into the final round with a submission, again, asking them to punch up the humor, giving them links to author pages in the genre niche, and told them the books would be competing for clicks with these authors. It had to be colorful, and eye-catching. I’m sure blending crime and humor was as challenging for them as designers as for me as a writer.

My husband–and this is his favorite genre–helped me pick the designs that might work, and we eliminated those that definitely would not work.

I have two weeks to choose a designer. My husband has picked his favorite. I love his pick, and I like the unique ideas the designer is contemplating for the series.

Do we go with his design, or poll to see what potential buyers might like?

I don’t want to poll just those who have read the story. I want to see what people may click on who are browsing for Florida crime caper. Or see what catches the eye of people scrolling on a page for reads. Or might draw the eyes of someone when it pops up in the “customers also bought” row.

Would you go with your gut (or you husband’s gut) and just select the one that most works for you, or would you poll?

I think if one cover took a landslide win from the cover we like, we might have to consider it.

I’d also like to award a runner up.

To poll, or not to poll, that is the question.

I’ve also had so much participation from you guys, I would hate to cut you out of the cover selection process. That’s half the fun of writing a book…picking out a cover. I want you included on the fun.

21 thoughts on “Cover Design Poll Thoughts

  1. I think that’s a tough call, and a very personal one. I’ve seen the polls before, and voted when the author went to all that trouble. I’ve never done it, and am interested in what you decide.

  2. I like the genre you suggest. As matter of fact just about to finish Carl Hiaasen’s STAR ISLAND and finished SKINNY DIP. I have followed his columns in the Miami Herald forever. Having lived in Miami 60 years I can picture all the places and things. Besides the story and humor his characters are so absolutely absurd they would appear unbelievable. But if you have experienced Miami you know the most bizarre human creatures in the world live here.

    • I’ve read all his books, Lauarance Shames, Tim Dorsey’s, Bill H. Meyers, C.I Dennis, just love them all. This book is a bit different, but focuses on Central Florida, which is filled with tourists, old world and new world Florida folk. It you send me your email address, I’d love for you, being an illustrator, to take a look at what they have. We’re looking for pop appeal. Will it pull your finger to the page to click for more. my email is sknicholls1@gmail.com.

  3. If I had a cover that really resonated with me, I would go with my own gut instinct, no poll involved. But if I was torn between several, I would probably do a poll. I’ve done that with titles before and will probably do it with an upcoming title, but never with a title. I do a bit of graphic design on my day job so I generally know what I want when it comes to a cover, but sometimes it helps getting the opinions of others. In the end though, YOU have to be happy with the results. Can’t wait to see what you come up with! 🙂

    • I’m feeling that. I’d like to have at least a few opinions from people who read in this genre and it’s a niche genre. So their often hard to tackle…maybe twitter I dunno. I’ve thought about following the people who follow my beloved authors. Poll it out to them and see what happens (Depends on how many follow me back.) I may set up account called something that might attract them Like…Neon Paradise Press…..something that speaks to Orlando.

  4. I went with my gut with Eating Bull’s cover design when I used 99 Designs. The one I picked just stood out, and although the others were great too, I went with my initial gut reaction. I have no regrets. So I guess if you have a gut feeling, maybe that’s the one? But if you’re still up in the air, then what could a poll hurt? It might just confirm your gut reaction.

    “The best authors never put their characters images on their covers”—Oops. My first publisher put a woman on the cover of my first book, who I assume represents my character. Hope I get a pass since they designed it. 😉

    • But her face was covered. You’re still the best :). And you have an awesome cover. Have I bought it yet? I dunno. I plan to if I haven’t. My time has been in a sink hole. Great feedback. My husband feels we shouldn’t do a poll. He says it will only add more stress to what was/is already a stressful decision making process….but fun.

  5. If you and the hubby are comfortable with the choice, go with it. If there’s any question, do the poll, but understand that there could be as many opinions as there are people. I can’t wait to see what you select.

    • I finally got them to focus on funny. It wasn’t easy. Take a look and tell me how you think they fared. Don’t think of how you recall the story. They’ll get that in the blurb. Just think genre and click appeal.

  6. I just picked the one I liked best. You should go with your gut, but as many have already said, it doesn’t hurt to see how other people respond. Keeping in mind, we all have our particular preferences. Personally, I don’t like designs that are cartoonish, just because they make me think of kids books. Yet, I’ll pick up a book with an open-mouthed alligator on it, regardless of the genre. Just have fun, Susan, and then go with the one YOU would enjoy seeing lining the shelves in bookstores 🙂

    • Honestly…I wasn’t satisfied with any of the covers. I’m thinking I might need an illustrator to get what I’m after. Still editing with plenty of time to decide. We might end up chalking the price of the contest up to tuition and going with something entirely different.

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