Book Covers and Blurbs

Creating and choosing my own book covers is often more frustrating for me than the actual writing of the story. Never mind writing pithy blurbs that are also informative and representative of the story.

When creating my book covers, I’m always trying to bring a little of the feel or an element of the story into the design. But in trying to do this I’m beginning to think that I’ve been blinded by being to too close to everything–both story and artwork; much like a the old Hollywood adage of why a screenwriter should never direct their own work.

So save for two covers which I love, No Distance To Run and How Not To Meet the Man of Your Dreams Revised, I’m not in love with my other book covers. This weekend was spent in redesigning covers for Here Be Monsters and Situation No Win.


a sci-fi novellette
Old literature or not, what do you think?

Here Be Monsters is my sci-fi book set mostly on Mars, in a mining community. In designing the original cover, I was a little hasty (being rather short of time and really tired) and so I just took a close-up of gravel and overlay an orange tint on it. I don’t know why I chose white font. I don’t think it looked any better with a black font. Maybe I should have gone with an orange font, darker than the background. Anyway, my cousin’s opinion was that it looks ‘like an old literature book’, probably like one she had to read at school.

Here Be Monsters has a retro feel as sci-fi goes, so in redesigning them_Here Be Monsters 2015 cover b cover, I decided to go all minimalist retro. I’m in two minds about it. But here’s the new cover. What do you think? I’d love to know before I decide to go with it.

Here’s the original concept for Situation No Win.

a thrilling adventure romance
A thrilling adventure romance?

Yes, I was quite stuck on the red-sanded desert imagery. This story has much to do with the Mu Desert region in China. It’s a tale of a mysterious ancient artefact with remarkable powers found in the desert, leading to the murder of Tom’s friend. The story follows Tom as he tries to avoid the same fate.
Of all the longer stories I’ve written, this is my favourite so far, so I’m more emotionally stubborn about changes to it. I’m not good at drawing, especially ancient artefacts. I can’t afford to buy pics of ancient stuff with royalties and permissions attached, so I thought the best thing would be to show the desert, which also conveys Tom’s emotional state in way. I thought it was very clever. But this cover too, I was told, is too boring.

I’m beginning to think that maybe orange hues are the not the best for my covers… But I’ve decided to give it one last chance and went all fantasy themed with this redesign.

More of a fantasy feel, yes?
More of a fantasy feel, yes?

 What do you think? Which do you prefer?

As for blurbs and short synopses, I’m beginning to realise that distance from the story (ie time) allows me to distill the elements of the story much more easily.

This was the original blurb for No Distance To Run:

A shadow fell across me. “Henry…,” I began, crumpling the piece of paper into my hand whilst turning to look up. It wasn’t Henry. It was my attacker from the previous night.
On retreat in Magaliesberg, Sammi becomes the only witness to a cold-blooded murder. Running from both the murderer, Henry, and a devastatingly handsome, ambivalent Interpol detective – Terry Grierson. With both pursuers seeming to know Sammi’s every move, she turns to her friend, Jay.

This is the one I go with now:

Witness to a murder; denied police protection, Sammi has no option but to run. Though the longer she runs, the shorter the distance she seems to be from her pursuers…

This was the original blurb for Here Be Monsters:

She’d never been off-planet. Now she’s on the Red Planet, something seems to be off-colour. And it’s not the air, or lack of it, is it?
Angie’s looking forward to spending some quality time with her husband, Kieron, while accompanying him on one of his projects to Mars. Her writer’s instincts tell her there’s a story hiding there. Life on Mars might be more than she’s bargained for.

I’ve stuck with it, mostly because I don’t know what else to do with it.

This was the original blurb for Situation No Win:

The Mu Desert lies serenely below the crystal-clear blue sky streaked with high cirrus. Beneath the sands lie a wealth of riches we have only just begun to explore: oil, gas, coal – and ancient artifacts. Tom lies drowsily, almost peacefully, on the sand; his hand holding his tummy over the two bullet wounds his cousin Struan has just given him. Now, Tom is content to give up. There is nothing left to fight for… Betrayed by the woman he loves; hunted by Struan and Gibson’s men; chased across Xi’an, to Erdos and Yulin; beaten up, fighting all the time to keep the relic out of the wrong hands, Tom has failed…

Then I tried:

A week ago Tom and Liu discovered something no-one’s seen for at least a thousand years. Now Liu is dead, his murderers have Tom in their sights, and Tom can’t see further than Melissa. For Tom, it’s all Situation No Win, right?
‘The Holder of this_________________wields the power of __________________. It must be used wisely, or the wielder will be_______________. Whomsoever becomes the wielder must_____________________or all will be lost.’
Here lies Tom Mackenzie’s dilemma and burden. He’s seen the power wielded. He knows his best friend, Liu, was murdered for the ancient device, and now those murderers are after him. Tom has a good idea who’s behind it all, but he has no evidence. Nor dare he let them get their hands on the device. He’ll die first. Except there’s Melissa. He’s only just met her, sure, but boy, does he love her! Now there’s a reason to live. Except, he’s not so sure he can trust her…or trust himself to keep her safe should the worst happen and they use Melissa as leverage against him. Tom’s a capable guy. He’s got a good idea how to manage things – neutralise the device, then woo his girl. He can do it, no prob. Thing is, his cousin Struan has been hired to track him down. And Struan is as devious as Tom…Still, no prob, right? Aye, right.

This is the one I go with now.

In the Mu Desert, Tom and Liu had discovered an ancient relic not seen for a thousand years. Now Lui’s been murdered and Tom’s life is in danger. But his passion for his new love distracts him from dodging the dangers ahead.

So, which ones pique your interest the most? Which covers do you prefer: the new or the old?

Do you prefer longer or shorter blurbs? How much is too much of the story in a synopsis? Let me know by taking the polls below. Comments welcomed 😀





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