"A great cover image makes a promise to the reader.
A poor cover image chases potential readers away." ~ Derek Murphy
Readership has been low for this book, so I took a step back for a moment of quiet review. Is something wrong with the cover? Yes, it's blocky, dark, static, and there's nothing eye-catching.
RHOH, version 1
For some help on where to go from here, I watched a video by Derek Murphy called 7 Must Have Qualities For a Book Cover That Sells. I have a graphic design and illustration background, so things like contrasting colors, negative space, and balance aren't *necessarily* where I have problems, it's the marketing side I find très difficult. After watching the video, I made some notes:
1.) Did I choose the correct font? Does it speak to the genre I'm writing, which is teen romance? [No.]
2.) Is there enough interesting elements here to catch the readers eye? Derek Murphy says orange and teals make a rocking combination. Is the shirt color against the brass zipper enough? [Probably not.]
3.) Is there a humanizing element? [No face, but there is a hint of someone behind the clothes...right?]
4.) If I were to strip away the words, does the image convey what the story is about? [leather jacket means bikers, gangsters, something sinister perhaps. White-ish tee means clean, good... so together it could show a conflicted person, which is half the story...but it certainly doesn't say "teen love."]
5.) Does it mesh with the other teen romances in the same genre? [No, there isn't a girl on the cover and the font choice is off.]
I'm an indie author in exploratory mode, learning as I go, and since I enjoy creating my own covers for the time being, I'm gonna stick with it. I'm not ready to give up on my image just yet, so I aimed at quicker fixes like color and font.
RHOH, New and Improved
Here's what I did to help seed the cover and story into the Young Adult (YA) genre:
1.) I over-layed the dark part of the cover--the black leather and the asphalt road--with an autumn brown. Instead of feeling cold, it took on a warm tone. The brass zipper stands out a bit more, which helps identify it more as clothing.
2.) I changed the font to match Dealing with Blue since Will Sullivan is in both books. A sidekick in the first and now the main character in Riding with the Hides of Hell*. Plus the font looks young and fun.
3.) I tilted the title to create a feeling of action and speed. It's an adventure romance; the kids are going places on their motorcycles. They're feeling a bit off-kilter with the danger surrounding them and with their growing love.
4.) I swapped the gritty, squat-looking heart with one that is clean, but not perfectly shaped. It's sort of stretched like it's about to turn into action lines, riding into the distance. It also matches the new font, young, energetic, and fun.
What do you think? I'm open to hearing how I can improve. Does the font work? Should I look for a different cover image? Does it say, "teen romance and road trip adventure" to you? Let me know in the comments! Thank you.
* Riding with the Hides of Hell has a new title: Burnout!