Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Cover Conundrum

Ever since my first less than glowing review, I'd planned a rewrite and a new cover for this book. The rewrite has been tentatively made - I'll probably do it again, but the cover is my biggest problem.

The society of my book is something rather medieval in structure in that there are kings who rule kingdoms and princes who inherit the throne, even princesses who play their part too.

The story is about a prince who knew nothing about being a prince. He was raised by a father who couldn't bring himself to face the outside world and a mother who would scarcely leave her room. Early on, it is hinted that perhaps the king was more helpless in his seclusion, perhaps more a prisoner than what might be first assumed, because he was able to get his son sent away, replacing him with a hostage, or perhaps merely a physical replacement in case someone counted heads. Later, he is able to warn this secondary character to make his own escape as well.

Being a prince in name only, the main character spends a good deal of time learning how to manage a kingdom, but he also needs to know who was behind what happened to his home. Why would someone go to all the trouble of isolating the towns from each other? His investigation led to much deeper mysteries, and so the story progresses until finally he is able to round up a very unusual army and go home to put it all together. And yes he even gets the girl in the end.

So this might sound like your average knight in shining armor kind of story, but there's one HUGE issue that makes this cover about as wrong a cover as it can possibly be.

Some years ago, when this was the only book I had out there, my boss offered to have it available for sale at the lodge where I worked. It was a benefit for her as well as for me. For her, she could brag a little about having a real author on staff. For me, I sold a few books every summer from that point on, and even signed a few - It was really quite fun.

I knew the cover wasn't right though. More than one person told me that they wouldn't have picked up the book because of the cover, but after having read it, they loved it. But this was brought home best of all by a comment made by one lady at the lodge. She took one look at the cover, then at me, and said, "But you're American." in the most delightful English accent.

At first, those words hurt a little. It was as if she didn't think any American could possibly understand medieval society, it being so very English in origin and setting. My feelings weren't hurt for very long though, because they made a far more important point. My story was American too. The society might have many similarities, but my story takes place thousands of years in the future. All traces of ancient England are on the other side of an ocean, and on the other end of an ice age. No one here, in this story, remembers any trace if it.

This is something my cover somehow needs to show, or at the very least, it CANNOT lead the reader to expect ancient England in any way, shape, or form. Even the sight of a shield or sword might make that connection. So what to do? I have no idea.

My goal is to republish this book as soon as I run out of copies of the first edition. So if any of you would like to read the book so you can help me with ideas for the cover, I'll be happy to mail you a copy or email you a pdf - your choice.

I look forward to your ideas - thanks in advance.


1 comment:

William Kendall said...

That is a conundrum.

At the moment I'm heavily booked in terms of reading... but just off hand, I'm not sure if the sword and shield concept would nessecarily have to evoke England, if you mixed in some other item that made it squarely in this America of the future... perhaps some item of geography?