The Art of Experimenting with Cover Design

One of the many fun things about Indie publishing is the ability to experiment with book covers when you realize your initial packaging may not have been the best. When I started out to write the Carrigans of The Circle C, initially there were only  going to be 4 stories. I had a rough idea of the stories I would write and the characters, so, together with Jane Porter of Tule Publishing we decided on a certain “look” for the series and had covers designed accordingly.

Then I wrote the books. And four books became five. And I got to know the characters and their world, on a very intimate basis. And suddenly we had a problem with the “look.” It needed to change.

Fortunately Jane is open to experimenting with her authors’ books. In fact, it was Jane who first identified the problem with the packaging of this series. So we went to none other than Lee Hyat and asked her what she could do.

Here is what she came up with for Book 2, Good Together (old is on the left, new is on the right):

A very different look, right? Interestingly, I found an even split between the readers who preferred the old and those who appreciated the new.

Next we asked Lee to come up with a new cover for Book 5, which was Callan Carrigan’s story. Callan is the youngest of the Carrigan sisters, and in many ways her story is the most important, as it reveals old family secrets and deals with the future of the Circle C Ranch.

The first cover we had for this book, just didn’t feel right to me anymore. First, the setting was wrong. Since the ranch is so pivotal to the story, we needed to be there on the cover. Also, Callan looked too urban and, well, frivolous.

That wasn’t our only problem. The timing was working out so that this book would end at Christmas. It seemed to make sense that we reflect that in the title. So now we needed a new title AND a new cover. Here is what we decided on (again, old cover on the left, new on the right):

I’m hoping we got it right and came up with the perfect “packaging” for both these stories. Here is the way the covers look when they’re all together. I love my Carrigan girls!


(Originally published on Tote Bags ‘n’ Blogs in 2013)