Monday, November 03, 2014


I recently retired the printed versions of both my novels because of my increasing unhappiness with the overall product. It hadn’t been a quick or easy decision to make. I was otherwise happy with the distributor. I’d also spent countless hours learning how to design full covers (front, back and spine) and how to set up the interiors using their online templates and instructions—tools that kept a not-so-fun process from becoming an insurmountable task. Their customer service had always been quick and courteous, and their shipping reliable. The distributor had it all … except for a decent product.

That I’m in the process of entering published contests, many of which require printed books, didn’t ease my worry about the untimeliness of switching to another distributor. The transfer process is a lengthy one, which means I may not have books available in time to meet those contest deadlines. But I think I’d rather not make a deadline than turn in books that have crooked covers, faded colors, and/or toner splotches mixed with the print.

Covers are a big deal to me. Not just mine, but all covers. Covers are the first impression our books make on potential readers, and those first impressions count, especially at a time when readers have more books than ever to choose from.

I love a good cover and can name several off the top of my head that I loved so much I bought the books before I even read the blurbs. Since I read so many genres, I’ll stick with my own YA genre to list a few of my favorites:

  • Perfect Chemistry, Rules of Attraction, Chain Reaction, all by Simone Elkles
  • Going Too Far, Love Story, Forget You, all by Jennifer Echols
  • Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Clockwork Princess, all by Cassandra Clare
  • Pushing the Limits, Dare You To, Crash Into You, all by Katie McGarry

I’m seeing a pattern here. Lots of pretty couples, or at least an interesting character. I love bright colors, but it’s obvious from this list that I’m often attracted to covers with a darker tone.

How important are covers to you? What are some of your favorites?

I’m also giving away a Kindle version of my book, INNOCENT, to one commenter who includes an email with their comment.

Callie James
Writer of edgy, upper YA romance and dark YA paranormal.
Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest and Google+


Louisa Cornell said...

I think writers should always take great care with their book covers. Even in this day of eBooks and self-publishing book covers can establish an author's brand in the mind of readers almost as quickly as the author's writing. A large portion of the population are "visual" people. They are attracted by what they see before the use of any other sense. Even if a book never appears in print, the cover says an author cares about every aspect of their creation.

I love good covers. I have a number of signed cover flats of historical romance covers (and some Denise Rosetti erotica covers - H A W T !!) framed and hanging on my walls as inspiration.

Anna Campbell's Claiming the Courtesan is the first cover I framed. Gorgeous color and antique gold leaf. The stepback in Elizabeth Hoyt's latest, Darling Beast, is breath-taking.

My ambition is to have a Jon Paul cover on one of my books. Check out his artwork !

Callie James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Callie James said...

Oooh, wow. Those are really beautiful covers. And I completely agree with you on those first impressions.

I love Rosie Hardy's work so much that I'm willing to write a book just to fit one of her pictures. She captures the mood I'm usually in when writing YA.

Maroon 5 discovered her pictures on Flickr (she was only 19, I believe) and she ended up doing their Hands All Over cover.

Thanks, Louisa!

Louisa Cornell said...

I checked out her site. What awesome images! I picked out a dozen or more I am certain could inspire you to write a YA just from the image. She is amazingly talented!

Ashfa said...

I'm a huge cover girl and book covers are the the first thing I consider when buying books. I love it when covers feature unique writing and images instead of generic images.

Callie James said...

Thanks, Ashfa! I'm the same. A great cover is the first thing that will make me check the back for a intriguing blurb. Otherwise, I'm not likely to pick it up.

Peggy Webb said...

A great cover can make a book jump off the shelf, Callie. Too, a cover should convey something about the book, either mood or story. Simon & Schuster gave me a great cover for my last book. That tiger on the front says it all...circus is going to play a part! I hire a professional to do covers for my reissued classic romances. She's fabulous and I know the end product will be great. I can share some info if email me privately.

Cari Hislop said...

I totally agree with you. I know all my book covers need to be redone. I know what I want, i just need to find the emotional and physical energy to get on with making them. At the moment I'm probably hostage to Perfectionism, but as you say, sometimes you just have to jump.

Covers these days are rather tricky. As a reader looking for stories online I've noticed that I want the cover to hint at the story, but too much going on overwhelms the eye (because the images tend to be small) and I usually skip over those books. I've ended up reading some stories because the covers were so naive...drawn by the author in pencil...because the books stood out. So a "bad" cover can be a plus in certain situations.

Speaking also as a reader, I find one of the most important aspect of covers is the title of the story.
For me the title is far more important than anything else on the cover. Combing through iTunes I'm always amazed at the endless books with titles that don't really title the story. Those books I usually avoid like the plague - I may be depriving myself of the most amazing stories imaginable, but a title that says nothing about the story is worse (to me) than the unprofessional cover design.

I love your cover! and your title! ;)

cari at thehislops dot co dot uk

Callie James said...

Thanks, Peggy! I do love your cover! And it's so important that the cover shows something about the story. I searched for weeks for both of my covers to get the right characters and mood. I hope someday I'll have the funds that will allow me to pay someone else to handle it and take that pressure off, but for now it's just me.

Callie James said...

Cari, I totally agree. Title is everything. I mean, titles like Divergent are perfectly good ... if you've read the story. Still, I read that book because of all the good buzz, but otherwise, the title is meaningless.

I'm happy with my title Innocent, and if you read the story you'll know why. It has meaning on various levels. My other title, Student Bodyguard for Hire, was supposed to be something else. When that wasn't possible, I didn't have a lot of choice. I guess it could be worse. Thanks on the cover/title and also stopping by!

Ashfa said...

I forgot to include my email address...:/
blackcapballistics AT gmail DOT com

Thank for the giveaway chance!!

Cari Hislop said...

Just a public thank you for sharing your gorgeous book! I LOVED it!

For those of you who haven't yet read Callie's book, Innocent, I highly recommend it. Even if you don't normally read YA. It's a beautifully written story about young love overcoming the effects of abuse with the help of good and kind people - that innocence is a state of mind not a state of being.

Callie James said...

Thank you, Cari! And thank you for the kind email and reviews! I so much appreciate it. :)