Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hank Mossberg promo this weekend, and New Covers!

I'm working on book six of the Hank Mossberg series right now, and getting book five ready for publication. As part of this process, I've decided to update a few covers in the series. When I suggested this idea to my wife, she said, "Nah, leave 'em. They're fine."

She was right to an extent, but something had been bothering me about those covers. It wasn't until just recently that I figured out what it was. When I devised the HM series, I was having a lot of fun playing with the idea of a private eye living in the fairy world. Yeah, it's a little gimmicky, but it's also a lot of fun, and I think that makes all the difference. A gimmick can be clever or it can be stupid, and while I always aim for the former, I desperately hope and pray to avoid the latter. In fact, I've dismissed quite a few story ideas because they were just too gimmicky.

At any rate, I felt like I had come up with a pretty good series, and when I published H1 I decided I wanted a cover that mimicked the pulp detective novels of the fifties. The cover would scream "pulp" and only hint at the fantastical aspects of the story. In that aspect, I hit the mark, but in the world of book promotion, I missed the mark by a mile.

The thing I didn't understand back then was that in order to sell a book, you have to entice a reader to pick it up. That's what the cover does. The old proverb that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover is completely fatuous. We all judge books by their covers. The covers are what make us look at them in the first place. And putting a pulp cover on an Amazon page full of fantasy covers is a sure way to make sure nobody touches that book. Fantasy readers aren't looking for Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe. They're looking for Frodo Baggins or Jon Snow.

That's not to say the HM series has done poorly. The reviews and word of mouth have been enough to give me quite a few sales in that series, but I just don't think it has reached its full potential. And the only way to get those books in to the hands of the right readers, is to attract the right readers with the right cover. 

So here's what I've done:

 The old H1 cover was simple and pulpy. Not bad, but nothing here to really attract a fantasy reader.

The new cover is clearly fantasy. Hank is gone but now we have a hint of what the Mother tree might look like, and there's no doubt that the story behind this cover will contain elves, fairies, and so forth... The spilled wineglass echoes the word murder in the title, but these elements are subtext now rather than forefront. Special thanks to my son Jack for his help with the title layout, fonts, and photo editing. The kid knows what he's doing!

H2's cover wasn't terrible either, but definitely not great. It had some issues with lighting, layout, and aesthetic appeal in general. I decided to simplify...

As you can see, most of the original elements remain: the gloom fairy is still here, the sword in the stone, even the city (a different one) in the background. But the changes I've made are obvious, and I think the effect is rather striking. When I showed my wife, she immediately said "What are you waiting for? Hit the upload button!"  We'll see what the fans think...
I think H4 was one of my better first efforts. The character is front and center, displaying lots of attitude and no doubt about his personality or supernatural nature. That being said, it was a bit rushed. The lighting wasn't great and the colors were a little off, lending the cover a very two-dimensional appearance. And the way the image is cut off on the bottom just looks weird. I didn't think it would be that obvious, but it is.

More simple changes, but with pronounced effect. Sam looks considerably more three-dimensional now, thanks to the changes in lighting. Still a little cartoonish I guess, but he is a goblin...

Speaking of Sam, I'm running a promo this weekend. You can pick up book four in the series for nothin'! That's right, absolutely free, this weekend only. So grab a copy and tell your friends. The next two books will be out soon, and if you haven't read this one, you're missing out. You can download it at Amazon by clicking this link.