Should I change my book covers? (Images inside)

Let me begin by saying I love my current covers for the Kat Voyzey series. They’re pretty, creative, and really fun. When I had them made, my cover designer asked me for “comp covers” so she could see what I was looking for. And I told her that I didn’t have a clue! The Kat Voyzey mysteries are amateur sleuth mysteries but they aren’t cozy. There’s cussing, and moments of danger, and descriptions of crime scenes that go a little bit beyond what you’d expect in a cozy mystery. But they aren’t thrillers either. These aren’t breakneck-paced books, nor do they contain serial killers or gore.

I wasn’t sure how to position my books, visually, so I told the cover designer “make something cool” and she did exactly that.

But as I’ve been reading more about the business side of publishing I’m coming to see that my covers are a bit vague. They don’t scream MYSTERY. And apparently when it comes to marketing, you do want to scream a little. Those thumbnails fly right by. Also, a professionally designed book cover can cost $400 easy. And dropping that kind of money left and right can be tough when you’re not a big seller. And I’m not, yet. So I’ve been working on my Photoshop skills and playing around with ideas for refreshing the Kat Voyzey series.

Here are the current covers:

Cover of the book Involuntary Turnover    Cover of Orientation to Murder   Cover of Death by Team Building

And here are my new mystery-focused cover concepts:

Cover of Involuntary Turnover: A woman in a red jacket walks down a dark hospital corridoor   Book Cover: Orientation to Murder. A woman in a red coat walks down a dark row of cubicles.   Book Cover: Death by Team Building. A woman in a red coat approaches a lodge covered in snow. The lights inside are bright and the night is dark.  Book Cover: Death on Wheels. A woman in a red coat watches roller derby skaters.

By the way, if you’re wondering where in the heck the fourth book came from – that cover is a mockup –  and the story is in my queue to write later  this year. Yay!

Stare at those new covers for  a sec, if you don’t mind, and form a first impression. How do they strike you?

What I’m Seeing

When I look at the new covers a few things stand out to me. First, I think they look more like amateur sleuth mysteries. Second, I think they’re a tad monotonous, but from what I understand that isn’t the worst thing. A politer word might be to say they’re consistent. Many thriller-style mysteries have a woman on the cover, but the women are usually silhouettes in the dark. I flipped things around by using a dark background with a brighter-looking heroine in an attempt to give it a grown-up Nancy Drew feel. And I used a casual font for the subtitle to throw in a hint that these stories don’t take themselves too seriously. The background images relate to the primary setting for each mystery. We’ve got a hospital hallway, office, mountain retreat, and roller derby rink.

They feel a tad too dark, to be honest, but when I made them brighter it was like being stabbed in the eyes with a fork.

Anyway, I’m going to sit with these images for a bit and think it over. And in the end I’ll make up my own mind, as usual. But if you have opinions about the new cover concepts, I’d love to hear. Especially if you’re a mystery fan.




Update: I’ve decided not to change my covers for the series. Thanks for all the input!