On the sidebar you can see the cover of my novel Raincloud. A grim scene with footsteps in the snow leading into a forest, the air so cold that the reader can almost feel it nip at their nose.
Nice picture. But what does it mean? And what does it have to do with the story?
It’s a no-brainer that any novel needs to have an eye-catching cover, something that screams “Pick me up!” from amongst the myriad of books on the retail shelf (even though I think more books are displayed spine-out than front-face, but that’s beside the point).
My novel’s cover has received mostly positive reviews. Almost everyone loves the photograph. But one discerning “first five pages” critic found it bleak and uninspiring. The tie-in to the story wasn’t immediate obvious to them and was certainly well beyond the fifth page.
When it comes to covers I like the more subtle approach. Had I chosen to include more generalized story elements, the cover would have been a mix of images including a crow, an ancient First Nations Chief, a dead body in the snow, a detective and a policewoman, and…well, you get the point.
It would have had all the full-colour glory of a Harlequin romance novel, with a half-naked man holding a scantily clad woman, behind them a pirate ship and a setting sun. In other words, cheese!
So for The Orphans of the Creek, my next release, I’m going to go from using an actual photograph to self-designed artwork. The design will be simple but subtly chilling, the focal point underscored with a little bit of blood.
I mean, it’s a psychological thriller. It has to have at least some blood, doesn’t it?
If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you!
Richard Todd is an author, blogger, and Social Media guy. Plus a few other things that get lost in the clutter. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.