Thursday, July 3, 2014

Jacket make-overs

Many of my books were published three years ago and the jacket designs are showing their age so it's definitely time for a re-vamp. Also, the books are gaining ever more readers so my own knowledge about how the books fit into the marketplace has grown, and that changes what I want the jackets to look like.

I know the designer won't mind me canvassing for comments and opinions on the new look so I'd appreciate any reactions to 'Faithful through Hard Times'. Fellow-writers might be interested in some of the choices I'm making and why, before you comment, but I know some of you just like the pictures, so here they are.

One practical point about the text on book jackets is that amazon will only let you use words in a title which actually appear on the jacket, and all the title words show up in amazon searches, giving you some freebie extra search words. That's why I added 'a WW2 true story' to the ebook cover. If you want to know more about the book itself and whether the new cover represents it effectively, in genre and appeal to likely readers, check it out here




It is widely agreed that writers will be more successful by sticking to one genre, building a readership and having 'a look' to all of their books. Publishers have always done this; self-published authors are well-advised to follow suit. But I'm not going to.

Call me mad or call me multi-faceted but I write in many genres and I think the 'genre look' of the jacket is more important than the 'Jean Gill' look. Quite honestly, I married the only person who's ever going to read all my books because they are just so diverse

Which fonts?

I plead guilty to underestimating the artistry of fonts - never again. Thanks to sites like the Book Designer and its recommended link Fontsquirrel I know what's trending and why it matters. The fonts suck on my 3 year old book jackets. But then they also suck on my books which were conventionally published over the last twenty years. Things change. But thanks to designer input, I'm looking at fonts, and the way they're mixed, as a way of keeping a 'Jean Gill' look, despite the range of genres. 

Which art-work?

As a photographer, as well as an author, I have strong opinions on this. There is, however, nothing to stop me giving the designer instructions and then looking at options on layout, background, textures,colours.. detail and fancy-work. I wasn't happy when I found exactly the same jacket as one of my books, just a different colour - the publisher (yes, a 'proper' publisher) had used one stock photo, straight. Stock photos of all qualities exist and my own don't always meet my requirements but I want enough of a twist to the design to keep it different from someone else's in more than author name and title.

I know that one of my many failings is that I love complexity and clutter - too clever by half, as my mother always said. Jackets need room for


Part of my lack of respect for fonts was due to the old-fashioned thinking that blurb is on the back of a book. In today's one-click or forget-it world, the front jacket wins or loses readers. Even though amazon now allows readers to view the back jacket, (for those publishers smart enough to figure out how), that is still one more click. I want commitment after the first kiss. 

I've always agonised over the right title but now I want pointers to go with it; an indication of genre (to double as search words on amazon), a killer quote. One advantage of becoming established as an author is that I have wonderful quotes to choose from. In fact, I'm starting to worry about offending someone by not using his/her great quote - the problems of success!


Oh, yes. Every time. I want a jacket that I love, passionately. Even if I want a better one after three years... We are talking about books here, right?

Over to you...

Any thoughts on my new jacket? On book covers in general? What decisions do you make? How often will you spend precious time on improving the books already written - instead of writing new ones?


  1. Great blog and it got me thinking. How I would LOVE to get my hands on my back catalogue and makeover the covers.This is where self-pub wins hands down.

    1. Thanks, franceskaywriter. I am amazed at how much has changed over the years I've been published! Lower case was the trendy way-to-go in the 90s by mainstream publishers... and now WE SHOUT!! :) Yes, I do love the design control of self-publishing but I did too much 3 years ago and then left it go. I can see the difference now I'm updating!