Recently, a friend messaged me about a bookstore in a nearby town that she thought would be willing to stock my book(s), so last Tuesday I went to visit New & Olde Pages Book Shoppe in Englewood, OH.
I explained why I was there and the proprietress said, “Let’s see what you’ve got.”
I pulled a copy of The Demon Always Wins from the small box of books I’d brought with me and held it out to her.
“That’s a problem,” she said.
I frowned “What’s a problem?”
“People don’t like to pick up snakes.” She didn’t sound mean, just matter-of-fact. Then she looked at the second book.
“Although you do have a nice concept going there. It could work.”
So here’s the thing. If you’ve been reading Justine’s recent posts ( here and here) on covers, you may know I’m of two minds about mine. Personally, I love them. I don’t know that I would pick up a snake (at least, not without having a herpetologist assure me it was harmless) but I wouldn’t think twice about picking up a book with a picture of a snake on it.
On the other hand, my target demographic isn’t snake-lovers. It’s romance lovers. So I’ve been wondering about redoing the covers to be more romance-y.
When I run Facebook ads, I get a lot more clicks than I do sales, more than can be accounted for by window shopping, I think. That suggests that there’s a disconnect between what brings people to look at my books and what the cover and blurb say the book will provide.
On the other hand, the covers give a pretty good hint about what’s inside–stories of trial and temptation, stories that are a little edgy and unexpected.
Also, I already have far more invested in these books than I’m ever likely to see in sales and new covers would be one more expense that may or may not change my sell-thru.
What do you think? Would the snake on the cover prevent you from buying one of these books?
The snake wouldn’t stop me from buying a book, but I’d never think a snake wrapped around an apple would be a romance. Or even a mystery, my two genres of choice. I’d think it would be nonfiction, maybe self-help. So I’d be unlikely to pick it up for those reasons. And I do know people who’d never for any reason pick up a book with a snake on the cover.
I know what you mean about investing in new covers and not making back your money. That’s why I tried out those $25 Fivrr covers! And the click rate on advertising will always be much higher than sales. But in the case of these covers, much as I hate to say it, I think you’d have better sales results in the long term if the covers looked more like conventional romance covers—like, say, with a couple facing each other, and the guy is holding out an apple, and he’s got cute little horns sticking out from his curly hair. Or something like that, which still gets the temptation idea, but also puts the couple front and center.
It’s less that I object to spending a few buck for a new cover than it is that my entire brand revolves around that snake. It’s the centerpiece of my website header.
Thanks for your thoughts!
I am one of those people who would not pick up a book with a snake on it. (And I must admit, I’m occasionally startled when I open my Kindle app and see your snake cover in my library.) But I am totally phobic, and although ophidiphobia is the second most common one, I dont know how much it would limit your audience.
I think Kay’s take on it is more pertinent – do people who respond to your covers want romance, and do romance readers respond to your cover? The best advice I I heard on covers recently is to look at the bestsellers in your genre/sub genre, and follow the pack. Not what we creatives like to hear, but probably sound advice.
Yesterday, a friend I did a review for sent me a link to a site called bookdiscovery.com. You key in your title and they bring back comps. So now at least I have covers to compare with!
When Indiana Jones said, “I hate snakes,” I fell completely and madly in love with the guy. I have been known to step on a rubber hose and nearly jump out of my skin.
But on these books, the snake issue is somewhat removed. It *is* a beautiful snake, and the graphic is eye-catching and memorable. People will say, “Oh, I read this great series . . . you know, the one with the snake on the cover . . . .” and there’s a good possibility that people will know exactly what you mean.
But I came to your books by word of mouth (-: (your mouth to my ear, basically). If I were browsing in a bookstore . . . well, snakes on a book are not my cup of tea. It signals a lot of darkness. Having read the book(s), I love the cover, but otherwise?
You might think of a dust jacket, if you want to try out something new on the cover to see what works.
Snake phobia, as Nancy says, is one of the most common phobias. I don’t know if that works against you or for you, because there’s no denying that it is a thrilling image. And I don’t think you deceive the reader with the cover.
You are in it for the long game, and you’ll have more and more books to your credit. I would stick to the plan for book three. When you get ready to launch your next series, give the back catalog a face lift then. Something that harmonizes with your new book/series. That’s what I’d say.
Good point–even the bookseller backed off a little when she saw the second cover and picked up on the theme. And the cover for the third book is the coolest yet.
I’m probably not your target demographic, since I’m primarily fantasy, plus occasional paranormal romance. I loved the covers, perhaps because I’m a nature lover and you combined that “snake” of Eden with the apple first, then the scroll. Apple made scene for doctor Strong, and contract made sense for artist Keeffe. Between hearing you talk of the books, reading the blurb, and first page, I was sold on both. Thus, I’d vote to keep current covers. FWIW, my bookloving co-worker, like me, hops genres as well, and she loved the covers and followed you on Amazon to know when book 2 would be out, and that future book 3.
Thank you! I’m probably not going to jump to do anything. But if I can’t figure out how to market with the current branding, I may have to do something.
I’m definitely more of a traditionalist when it comes to covers and branding (just look at my stuff…new cover reveal coming Sunday, BTW, and I LOVE it!), but I would never peg your books as romance. Fantasy maybe. But just going by the cover, there are zero clues that it’s about a couple. My $0.02, FWIW, and I still think you can use the snake in branding…for a series logo, perhaps, or even having it on your website, but if you’re going off first impressions/ad clicks to perfect strangers who aren’t reading any of the ad copy (I never do unless the image captures my attention), you might miss the mark.
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