CJ Carmichael

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How do you decide on cover design and why do they sometimes change over time?

I’ve had input on my bookcovers with all my publishers, but it’s a much more hands-on approach with Tule Publishing. 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 the editorial and creative team at 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 Tule is open to experimenting with authors’ books. Here is the new look we 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 the designer 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)

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