Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Re-designing a book cover - Untying the Knot by Linda Gillard - Giveaway

The new cover design for Untying the Knot

Linda Gillard is one of my favourite writers. She has recently self-published her novel, Untying the Knot, in paperback form (it was available solely as an ebook initially) and she chose to have a new cover designed for the paperback publication - this is the cover shown above, and it is now the cover for both the paperback and the ebook. Both covers were professionally designed, and I think this certainly shows - they are gorgeous.

Here's a link to the book cover designer Nicola Coffield's website, where she writes about the design process for this cover, and you can see the stages and read about the thought behind the design.

I thought it would be very interesting to hear about the thinking behind this, and for readers to be able to compare the original cover, the new one, and another one that was considered as a possibility, too (see the link, above, to the designer's site). 

Here's the original cover, which was used for the ebook for Untying the Knot.

The original ebook cover for Untying the Knot

Here's Linda talking about the re-design...


Author Linda Gillard
by Linda Gillard


I'd had a lot of requests for a paperback of UNTYING THE KNOT so as I prepared the text, I reassessed the original ebook cover which hadn't been popular with readers, particularly those who'd read the bookIt was a Marmite cover - people loved it or hated it. The book had had some brilliant reviews, but it didn't sell as well as some of my others which made me wonder if the cover was wrong. 

UNTYING THE KNOT is my most romantic novel but it's also emotionally challenging. Readers told me they didn't think the runaway bride represented the tone or content of the novel. And that was the problem - trying to find an image that conveyed a very mixed message, because if ever there was a genre-buster, it's UNTYING THE KNOT! It looks at the destructive effects of post-traumatic stress disorder on a military marriage, but there are strong elements of rom-com mixed in with the drama. It's also a 3-generation family story (but not a saga). 

It was difficult to come up with an image to suggest all that. Working with my designer, Nicola Coffield I'd originally chosen a surreal image of a bride fleeing with a suitcase across a rural landscape, but readers had thought it suggested chick lit. Was she late for her own wedding?... Or was she running away?... The image was ambiguous and confused readers. I realised you have to make sure the cover of a mixed-genre book doesn't give out a mixed message. It doesn't work in the crucial thumbnail that sells your book online.

So we did a lot of re-thinking and came up with a very different cover. Nicky did a brilliant job of putting two separate images together. She dropped in the ruins of Kilchurn Castle behind an image of a woman walking through the countryside. The colours suggest Scotland and the image is rather bleak, but also beautiful. The flock of birds above the ruins were my idea! I also requested a very dramatic sky to suggest the emotional turmoil of the book.

So now UTK has a cover which goes with its synopsis:

Marrying a war hero was a big mistake. So was divorcing him.


A wife is meant to stand by her man, especially an army wife. But Fay didn't. She walked away - from Magnus, a traumatised war veteran and from the home that he was restoring: Tullibardine Tower, a ruined 16th-century castle on a Perthshire hillside. 


Now their daughter Emily is getting married. But she's marrying someone she shouldn't. And so is Magnus...


I'd be very interested to hear from your readers which cover they prefer and which one they'd be more likely to buy. Did we get it right?


~~~~~

Thanks to Linda for sharing the thinking behind this key process - a cover certainly can influence our reading choices, despite the old adage not to judge by it. My opinion? I think both covers are striking and appealing - I actually did like the original cover a lot - but overall I think the new one is my favourite; I love the castle with the birds circling, the shadowy figure, the beautiful purplish colour to the ground, and the lovely colours of the moody sky. 

You can read my review of Untying the Knot here. It's probably my favourite of her books that I've read so far, though I've enjoyed them all. 




Giveaway!

Linda has very kindly offered to giveaway an ebook copy or a paperback copy of Untying the Knot to a reader of this blog. If the winner is based in the UK, the paperback will be signed by the author too. If the winner is overseas it will be unsigned and sent via amazon.  

To enter, please leave a comment below; Linda would love to know your thoughts on the cover designs - which do you prefer and which would you be more likely to buy...?

*****THIS GIVEAWAY HAS NOW ENDED. THANKS FOR ALL YOUR ENTRIES. WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED SHORTLY.*****



Links to amazon UK for the paperback and the ebook:



Link to amazon US for the paperback and the ebook.

38 comments:

  1. I did like the original cover for the e-book. I'm just glad that the other cover on Nicola's link wasn't used as it's too much like the cover of A Lifetime Burning to me. I must admit I do prefer the tree book cover to the e-book cover of this one though. It looked good without the building in the background too. I think more people will probably be drawn to the tree book cover though.

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    1. Thanks very much for commenting, Bernie. I like both covers too, but I am with you in preferring the new one overall. It's interesting to see the different options that were considered isn't it.

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  2. I forgot to say I've already got the e-book but will be purchasing a tree book version as I want all Linda's books as paperbacks to add to my collection.

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    1. I was thinking of doing the same Bernie, I read this one as an ebook but I'd love a paperback copy to re-read and keep on the shelf. :)

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  3. I wouldn't have bought the first one for the cover.....too chick lit. But I must say I am not enamoured of the second one either. I want to know why the woman is shown as a "shadow". All this said, I do think I am not really in a position to say much as I do think that every cover illustration should be done by someone who has read the book in question and I have not. Some really good stories pass me by because the cover is wrong. Let's hope that this has happened with the bride and the suitcase, and that the new cover means lots more readers!

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    1. Thanks very much for commenting, Susan. I do personally think more readers will be inclined to pick up the book with the new cover. I think that's a good point about knowing the content of the book when thinking about the cover too, or at least knowing what sort of things the writer has focussed on in the story. I'm sure I've missed out on books too in the past because the cover has put me off sometimes.

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    2. I too think the first cover like Susan says looks a bit chick litty but knowing Linda's style of writing and books, I knew that it wasn't the case at all in this instance.

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  4. If the two were presented as real books next to each other on a shelf, I'd pick up the e-book cover to read more but not the new one.

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    1. Thanks very much for commenting, Mary. That's interesting to hear. I personally like both covers, too. Though the new one is my favourite as I love the tones to the colours and the atmosphere it conveys.

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  5. Hi everyone & thanks for your comments which are very interesting. Can I just clarify one thing? The ebook & pb both have the same cover now. The running bride is history!

    Susan, the woman is a silhouette because that's what she was in the stock photo we used for the cover. I had slight misgivings about that but we thought it read well in the thumbnail (and basically you design a cover from the thumbnail upwards.)

    You might all be interested to know that book designers, especially with the major publishers, rarely read a book before they design the cover. They work from a brief given to them by the editor. If that brief isn't very detailed you can end up with crashing errors which authors and readers find annoying, even upsetting - heroes with the wrong colour hair, heroines with the wrong colour skin. (There was a big scandal about a YA book with a black heroine who was depicted on the cover as white. The publishers gave the excuse that white sells better. The ensuing outcry from readers & authors got the cover changed.)

    Frustrations with cover design are one of reasons so many mid-list authors like me were happy to go indie. I made a point in my traditionally published novel STAR GAZING of explaining why my blind heroine only ever wears black or white clothes. The cover I got shows her wearing blue. (She's also clearly wearing nail polish - quite a feat for someone who's blind.)

    I might get my covers wrong now & again, but they are at least the covers I want, that I think represent my work. That's the joy of being indie.

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    1. Apologies if I didn't make that very clear Linda, I've changed my intro to add a line clarifying that both versions now have the new cover.

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    2. I don't think you were unclear, Lindsay, I think it's just that readers don't understand just how quick & easy it is to change ebook & pb covers when you're self-publishing. It's a reasonable assumption that an ebook might have one cover and then the pb might have another, just like hardbacks & pbs.

      This was an issue I had to get to grips with once I started producing my own pbs. What worked well as an ebook thumbnail wouldn't necessarily make a good pb cover especially as I opted for larger format pbs.

      Oh, there's so much to think about once you become a publisher! Writing the books is the easy bit. ;-)

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  6. I thought that the original cover was striking but now I see the new version I can appreciate the concept and it does really suit the essence of the story.

    I love the colours of the new cover and the inclusion of the castle and the birds is a really nice touch.

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    1. Thanks very much for commenting Josie. I agree with everything you've said.

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  7. Comment from author Linda MacDonald, via twitter:

    The whole cover business is an interesting one. and I empathise with the problem when not genre specific.
    I opted for giving little away via covers. You have to read the books to discover significance. That way I hope to avoid people making assumptions about genre and not bothering to read. But there's no easy answer. Some have thought ML ('Meeting Lydia') cover has suggestive look about it - which is fine/relevant, but wasn't intentional!

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  8. I like both of them, but I think for my reading taste, I'd go for the re-design. The first design looks more of a romance, and I'm not necessarily a romance reader.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Julie. It's really good to hear this feedback and see what people think.

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  9. Knowing Linda's work, I would have purchased the book without paying a ton of attention to either cover. But when readers aren't aware of an author's work, this great post highlights how important a cover can be, and the need to employ a professional who has an eye for design. As I look at both covers now, I think the new one is far more reflective of Linda's work as a whole. I am now very keen on reading Untying the Knot!

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    1. Thanks for your comment, and for making a key point very well. I hope you do get chance to read UTK and that you love it too.

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  10. As a debut self-published novelist I've found this a very interesting post, Linda., and have learned a few things. I much prefer the new cover as the first one is very chick lit (nothing wrong in that, either). But your new cover would seem to fit the bill better as far as content goes. I attended one of your seminars at Greenwich a couple of summers ago. The point you made about using all of the five senses when describing scenes has stayed with me since then. I'd love to win a paperback version of your novel.

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    1. Thanks very much for commenting Lizzie, and for sharing the great tip you heard from Linda.

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  11. I prefer the new cover although the original one wouldn't have put me off from buying the book - Linda is a trusted author on my bookshelves and I would buy them whatever the cover picture. Karen (kaydee)

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    1. Thanks very much for your comment Karen. Once we love an author I don't think the cover matters very much to us, but for those who might be giving a book a chance for the first time evidently it is important.

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  12. Another big thumbs up for the new cover.

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  13. I have 2 of the paperbacks and the rest are ebooks, really need to get round to reading them!

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

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    1. Hope you enjoy them Lainy, thanks for commenting.

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  14. After all this discussion about book covers, I am going to go out and buy my first Linda Gillard novel. Whatever the exterior design, readers seem to like what is within.

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    1. Thanks for your comment! Definitely - it is all about the quality of what is between the covers once you've opened them, and I thought this was a very good read.

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  15. I must say, I much prefer the updated cover. I have only read one of Linda's books so far and when browsing the others to decide which to pick up next I have to admit I've been put off Untying The Knot slightly compared to the others, because of the runaway bride. Shallow, I know, but I have to be honest! The new one is much more fitting.

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    1. Hi Marie & thanks for your honest comment.

      I don't think it's shallow at all! You don't have very much information to go on when you buy an ebook (which is what that running bride cover was designed for) and in the case of UTK, you had a cover which was pretty much at odds with the "blurb" which mentioned marital breakdown, a ruined castle and a traumatised war veteran. Confusing to say the least!

      But I think the cover image shouts loudest. Even though my blurb on the product page made it clear the book isn't chick lit, the cover made it look as if it was. The cover also didn't look like my other books (which don't look like romance, let alone chick lit) so I totally understand why readers were confused or had some reservations.

      UTK has been quite an educational experience for me. ;-)

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    2. Thanks for commenting Marie, and for your thoughts. This is a really good read and I'm glad the new cover may well open it up to more readers, it deserves it.

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  16. The new one is amazing. I like it better! The ebook cover is cute too, but I don't think it would catch my eye in a bookstore

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  17. The first cover does look like chic lit the new cover has a more mysterious feel that draws me in

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  18. I love the new cover!
    It makes the book stand out (for me anyway), it looks interesting and makes me want to see what the story is all about!
    The other cover looks too wishy washy and too much like other books on the market.
    I hope that didn't sound rude. But the other one would not make me buy the book at all!

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  19. I love the first one, there is a sense of mystery there, the girl makes me want to at least read what the book is about, I already am eager to know so much more!!!
    But then again I too like the 2nd one, the cover makes me ask questions why is the bride running, who or what is she running away from.. :D

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Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and leave a comment. It's great reading your comments and I really appreciate them :)