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Discussion Starter #1
I'm writing an over-the-top farce about the Navy SEALs that--hopefully--is fun. (Think the old TV show "McHale's Navy" or the movie "Stripes.") The first two covers (they're in my signature) reflect actual incidents (although certainly not the main gist of either story) in the books. Coming up with the third cover I've struggled with having something that's funny but also reflects the book at least somewhat.

For instance, this cover is reflective of the story. (Many scenes take place in an abandoned mine shaft in the Arizona mountains.There's a brutally hot sun that almost kills my characters and all kinds of funky, mystical--think ghosts--stuff happens in the mine shaft while they're there.) But the cover's not funny. Perhaps the title and tag lines convey some humor, but that's it.



It would be a stretch to say the next cover applies to the storyline. Yes, somebody pointing a gun at somebody happens several times, but the bomb is nowhere in the book. But the cover is at least a little funny.



And here's the third, which is my favorite, and I think anyway, the funniest of the three. And yet there is no bomb again and no duel.



I sent the last two books to my newsletter and they liked the dueling one best. Only one person asked 'What's up with the bomb?" Of course, the bomb doesn't even make any sense on the cover, except it is funny in that they're pacing off concerned about each other while they're unconcerned about the bomb which will blow both of them up.

I'm not sure about this and that's why I'm asking you guys, but my hunch is that my readers won't much care that the covers do not accurately reflect the story. (There is the western theme with "Yipee Ki Yay" and the "Westward Ho!" in the tagline.) My concern is that readers will see the first cover (or something like it) and yawn. I'm after funny. So considering all the concerns I've brought up in the message, does one of those last two covers work? Or perhaps the first cover (combined with the title and tag line) is light-hearted enough to be considered humorous? Or do I go back to square one and come up with something funny that reflects the storyline more accurately?

Thanks.
 

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You don’t need to convey a scene from the book, just convey the type of book it is, so its readers will know it’s the kind of book they’re looking for.
 
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That's not the purpose of the cover. Don't take my word for it (an as-yet-unpublished noob); listen to H.M. Ward who at the time of this little vid clip had sold over 10 million books as an indie author and is over 13 million now I believe.
The vid is just 4 mins and if you were really in a hurry you could skip to 2m15s to get the bit on what a cover is supposed to signal. I'd listen to the whole thing, though, so you can get her own lesson lived on the subject and the huge difference it made in sales.
Bottomline though: The cover serves as a STOP sign to signal to a reader the genre. You want a cover that tells the reader at a glance your book is in the genre they are looking for so they move to the next step and take a look at your blurb.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZPtKxODB-Q
 

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I try to find/build a cover that generally relates to a scene from the story.  None of them match detail-for-detail, though, and I've read lots of books where the cover does not refer to any event in the book at all and it didn't bother me unless the cover led me to expect one thing and I got another instead.  I'd say as long as your cover and your content match up as far as the typical reader's expectations go, you should be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
ShayneRutherford said:
You don't need to convey a scene from the book, just convey the type of book it is, so its readers will know it's the kind of book they're looking for.
Thanks Shayne. That makes sense. (Sorry, the Mediafire links went bad and so I lost the images.)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Luke Everhart said:
That's not the purpose of the cover. Don't take my word for it (an as-yet-unpublished noob); listen to H.M. Ward who at the time of this little vid clip had sold over 10 million books as an indie author and is over 13 million now I believe.
The vid is just 4 mins and if you were really in a hurry you could skip to 2m15s to get the bit on what a cover is supposed to signal. I'd listen to the whole thing, though, so you can get her own lesson lived on the subject and the huge difference it made in sales.
Bottomline though: The cover serves as a STOP sign to signal to a reader the genre. You want a cover that tells the reader at a glance your book is in the genre they are looking for so they move to the next step and take a look at your blurb.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZPtKxODB-Q
Thanks Luke. I just watched it. It was very good. And the Stop sign metaphor is wonderfully simple.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Blocked Writer said:
If it worries you, just add a "bomb" scene. Maybe they trip over a dud or something.
Thanks Blocked. I thought of that. lol I don't know if I could fit in that kind of bomb though.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
swcleveland said:
I try to find/build a cover that generally relates to a scene from the story. None of them match detail-for-detail, though, and I've read lots of books where the cover does not refer to any event in the book at all and it didn't bother me unless the cover led me to expect one thing and I got another instead. I'd say as long as your cover and your content match up as far as the typical reader's expectations go, you should be fine.
Thanks Scott. Yeah, I do think I may be overworrying this one. Appreciate the feedback.
 

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I haven't yet looked at the video, but I agree with the notion that the cover should reflect genre more than the actual plot.

With most novels -- even 'simpler' ones -- the plot probably has enough complexities that unless you have a key scene like an alien spaceship, or nuclear devastation, or some similar and relatively easy to portray item, you're not going to really be telling the potential reader all that much about what's really inside the book from the cover alone.

But you can indicate the genre, and catch the eye -- and let the blurb, LookInside, advertising, etc. do the rest.

ETA: looked at the linked vid, she says "the cover isn't for you, the cover is for the reader..." I.e. an indicator of genre. Makes sense.
 

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So long as the cover conveys the type of the book (genre, period), I don't care more about it. Like the other poster said, if it catches the eye, then its on to the blurb. I don't think I've ever cared whether the cover should depict any scene within the book. Most are too abstract anyway.
 

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Gregg Bell said:
Thanks Shayne. That makes sense. (Sorry, the Mediafire links went bad and so I lost the images.)
This ^^^
It's all about showing genre immediately, so readers know what kind of story they are getting.
 

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Luke Everhart said:
That's not the purpose of the cover. Don't take my word for it (an as-yet-unpublished noob); listen to H.M. Ward who at the time of this little vid clip had sold over 10 million books as an indie author and is over 13 million now I believe.
The vid is just 4 mins and if you were really in a hurry you could skip to 2m15s to get the bit on what a cover is supposed to signal. I'd listen to the whole thing, though, so you can get her own lesson lived on the subject and the huge difference it made in sales.
Bottomline though: The cover serves as a STOP sign to signal to a reader the genre. You want a cover that tells the reader at a glance your book is in the genre they are looking for so they move to the next step and take a look at your blurb.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZPtKxODB-Q
Wow, 10 million books!
 

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Your covers look professional, and I would say that's the most important quality. Next, I agree with everyone else that covers should depict genre and attract attention. Those are the main purposes of book covers. Once a reader has moved on to the blurb the cover has fulfilled its purpose.
 

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Your first two covers utilized all the blue space around the title with comic images, but none of the third covers do that - which makes them look less whimsical right off the bat. I do like the imagery of the first variation and if you filled in the blue around the title with some comedic figures, it could give it that push you are looking for. It would also enhance either of the bottom two images as well. It just seems like all three variations are missing that non-linear comic image placement that I loved in your first two covers.
 

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Signaling the genre is important, but giving people info about the contents of your book is helpful too. You could put a ghost with a pickaxe or something like that. That way people who like reading about stuff like haunted mines will be more likely to click on your thumbnail, and more likely to hit the read now or buy now buttons after they read the description.

On the last one, I think just putting clip art of a ghost instead of the bomb would make it a much better cover.

I think the first cover image is way too small to easily tell what it is, and it also looks too serious. It doesn't fit with the look of your first two books as well as the ones that just use white images.



 

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Discussion Starter #17
jb1111 said:
I haven't yet looked at the video, but I agree with the notion that the cover should reflect genre more than the actual plot.

With most novels -- even 'simpler' ones -- the plot probably has enough complexities that unless you have a key scene like an alien spaceship, or nuclear devastation, or some similar and relatively easy to portray item, you're not going to really be telling the potential reader all that much about what's really inside the book from the cover alone.

But you can indicate the genre, and catch the eye -- and let the blurb, LookInside, advertising, etc. do the rest.

ETA: looked at the linked vid, she says "the cover isn't for you, the cover is for the reader..." I.e. an indicator of genre. Makes sense.
Thanks JB. I like that notion of "catch the eye." Very good. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
thejayman said:
So long as the cover conveys the type of the book (genre, period), I don't care more about it. Like the other poster said, if it catches the eye, then its on to the blurb. I don't think I've ever cared whether the cover should depict any scene within the book. Most are too abstract anyway.
Thanks a lot, Jay. That's good to know: Genre, period.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Betty Blast said:
Your covers look professional, and I would say that's the most important quality. Next, I agree with everyone else that covers should depict genre and attract attention. Those are the main purposes of book covers. Once a reader has moved on to the blurb the cover has fulfilled its purpose.
Thanks very much, Betty.
 
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