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Guarding Genny

The author says:

Will the plane crash that killed her husband two years earlier also claim Genny Stevens as a victim? When the insurance company demands their money back she hires Taylor Coleman to prove her husband’s innocence and protect her and her two small children. Someone else has a different plan for Genny, one that doesn’t involve her staying alive. She wonders if help from an unexpected source can possibly manage to arrive in time.

Guarding Genny weaves suspense, intrigue and fantasy into a modern day romance while straddling the worlds of the mystical and reality. This is a draft for the first of four books in the Moonlight Magic Series. It can be considered a Clean and Wholesome romantic story but with enough suspense, intrigue and mysticism to appeal to the YA through the senior citizen set. At this time we are leaning towards the Romantic Suspense category but are still researching which option is best. The book is finished, we just need the cover to publish. Thank you for any input that will better the cover.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00065]

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00065]

Nathan says:

I have to tell you, if I saw this cover on Amazon I’d seriously consider putting it up on LousyBookCovers.Com.  Why?  Here’s what I see:

A bear’s butt.  In a moon.  With a smiling woman. But mostly a bear’s butt.

Does this tell me what the genre is?  Who the intended reader is?  What kind of story I’ll find behind the cover?  No, none of that.

And your description takes it further afield. You’re describing a suspense thriller, but suspense thrillers aren’t marketed with smiling people and gentle color schemes and bears’ butts.  Suspense thrillers are marketed with bold fonts and ominous shadows, and the people definitely aren’t smiling. Heck, you even mention a plane crash in your synopsis!  Plane crashes are exciting and dramatic! So why am I staring at a bear’s butt instead?  (And if your answer is, “It makes sense once you read the book,” you’re doing it wrong.  Nobody reads the book so that the cover will make sense to them.  The cover needs to appeal to readers before they know anything else about your book.)

The thing is that suspense thriller covers, especially “woman in jeopardy” covers, are really quite simple.  Go to Amazon and look at Tess Gerritsen’s covers, or Tami Hoag’s covers, or Lisa Jackson’s covers.  These are the readers you’re going after, so you need to catch the readers’ eyes by marketing to them in the same way.

Other comments?




  1. Not too much I can add to Nathan’s comments. The biggest problem is that anyone looking at the book would have no idea what sort of book it is or what it might be about. I know you have a well-written blurb…but it will be for naught if no one is attracted to the book enough to read it.

    I think what we may have happening here is a trap that a great many authors fall into when trying to create their own covers: they are so close to the story that they cannot see the cover objectively. Things that seem immensely important to them are simply baffling to the uninitiated potential reader.

    I could outline some of the problems with the art, but it would really be pointless since I think the best thing to do would be to start over from scratch.

  2. I admit I have a hard time giving advice about this cover because your description classifies it as everything. Suspense, intrigue, fantasy, clean and wholesome romance, YA, romantic suspense, senior citizen literature…? It feels like you’re trying to make this book appeal to everyone, but it just ends up being confusing. I’m not trying to pick on your description, but I can’t advise what kind of cover you should have unless I know what audience you’re going for. For instance: If you’re going for a YA audience, putting a middle-aged woman in mom jeans on the cover won’t do it.

    On a technical level, there are a lot of mistakes that jump out at me:
    -The bear has a shadow, as if it’s actually an enormous bear hovering in front of the moon. But the woman is transparent, as if she’s an image projected on the moon.
    -The woman seems to be a quadruple amputee.
    -The moon has visible, uneven, fuzzy trim lines. The bear also has noticeable trim lines, but they’re sharp.
    -The moon looks like it’s been put through a watercolor filter or similar. The filter hasn’t been applied to any of the other elements.
    -The primary color is bland hospital-room teal.

    I mention all this because when you rethink what sort of imagery to use, you also need to present the imagery in a more clean and compelling way.

  3. I get a worse sequel to “The Wilderness Family” from this cover. Not a hint of mystery unless there’s treasure hidden in a bear’s butt. Seriously though, this is not a good cover and should be discarded and redone from scratch. Again, it’s critical that you go on Amazon and look at the covers of successful books in the genre to get an idea of what types of images and fonts sell.

    I am going to make a leap at the risk of offending you, but that is by no means my intention. I am sensing a certain absence of artistic skill based on this cover since it is more collage than art. If I’m wrong prove it on your next attempt. If you feel that in truth you are weak in the art area, this is not somewhere to scrimp. It’s far better to INVEST in the cost of a professional artist (Nathan has a list of some here on his site) and get a cover that will have readers reaching for your book among the stacks of others.

    The cover is you hook and unfortunately what you have right now is a noodle.

  4. Hoo, boy! To make a mild understatement, this series is off to a very inauspicious start. About all I can say in the author’s favor is: you’ve saved yourself a severe humiliation by bringing this cover to us before one of us got it posted on Lousy Book Covers, because that’s quite certainly what we would have done. I almost never start off recommending a cover be scrapped, but this time I see no alternative; you’re going to have to start over from scratch.

    One of the biggest problems I’m seeing with this cover is that none of the decidedly random imagery on it has any discernible relevance to the plot given in your synopsis. Without your synopsis, I would have assumed from the prominence of the bear and the moon that this was yet another cheap paranormal romance or erotica competing (to use a remarkably fitting description someone coined on here) for Stephenie Meyer’s table scraps, with the mild distinction of featuring a bear instead of a wolf as its sexy lycanthrope. For that matter, though you don’t specifically mention any lycanthropy in your synopsis, it wouldn’t really come as a surprise to any of us if that’s what the “mystical” part of this story is supposed to be; if so, you needn’t be shy about stating as much.

    Whatever the paranormal or supernatural elements of your story may be, the other glaring flaw of this cover is that your story is also intended to be a thriller, yet there’s absolutely nothing in the imagery to indicate this. Stories involving lycanthropy are obviously likely to have some violence–why have a character endowed with animals’ teeth and claws and brute strength if he’s not going to use them? Even so, everything on the cover points to a very cheerful and gentle kind of romance, not to a widow being desperately in need of a bodyguard (for which position a sexy ursine lycanthrope would incidentally be an exceedingly good fit) to help her evade someone’s attempts to assassinate her.

    In addition to recommending starting over, therefore, I’m also going to say: put some action on your new cover. Don’t show a woman looking happy and relaxed, show her looking desperate and on the run. Don’t show us a bear calmly waving his hairy posterior in our faces against the soft glow of a full moon, show us the gal’s bodyguard on the ground running in his human or animal form and charging headlong into the fourth wall ahead of the beleaguered widow with his weapons (natural or man-made) at the ready. (If this really is a story about a were-bear, you could even show her riding on his back as he charges at us in full bear form.) If you really do need to show the moon at all for some reason, stash it away in a corner somewhere farther back in the background; the moon is not inherently an active body, and you need to keep the focus on all the action going on in the foreground.

    In short, show us the characters in connection with each other and doing something. Even a cheesy shot of them kissing would be more active than all the nothing you’ve got them doing right now. You’ve presumably spent a lot of time writing and developing your characters, so now put them to work and make them earn their keep.

  5. Is this a bear-shifter romance? If so, there’s some good covers you can look up to get ideas for layout and cover planning, if you don’t like the names Nathan supplied you with.
    Another thought, even if he is a bear shifter/dependent on the phases of the moon, adding the moon on the cover really isn’t as effective as you’d think. That’s a big use of space for what is essentially a big circle. Removing that, and starting again without that as your base concept, might help a little.

  6. It might not have to be completely scrapped if you do a few things. Remove the woman’s face. Turn the bear around, make him larger showing only his head and arms and move him to the bottom of the cover, still in front of the moon but obviously on the ground and not floating in space. Either find a photo of a back-lit bear, or try to change the lighting yourself (but only if you can do a really competent job of this). Find a bear photo that’s slightly menacing with teeth and claws. And change the background to a night sky with stars.

    This would be not great, but better.

  7. Hmm. I do get a Clean and Wholesome romantic vibe from this (looks like I’m the only one), but the execution is really lacking, both in the images chosen and the way they’re handled. Lydia’s suggestion looks like an interesting fix, it would be worth giving a try.

    1. Oh, I’m getting a Clean & Wholesome® romance vibe from this too; the trouble is that’s all I’m getting, and mainly because this is how a number of Clean & Wholesome® covers on Lousy Book Covers have looked. Making romances clean and wholesome isn’t all that difficult: you just dial back the steaminess of the cover and make sure the romance is nothing too sexually deviant. Actually, even an erotica can be entirely clean and wholesome, as long as it’s about ordinary marital activities between a married couple (and using clean language; no f-bombs in the bedroom, please).

      By the way, from having a look at the author’s page at Amazon, I’m starting to think this tale might not involve any bear lycanthropy. The covers and summaries of some of the books he’s already published suggest that he’s more into writing romances with a heavy emphasis on the milieu; as in, sure, the couple are having all kinds of fun adventures with each other, but the story’s as much a travelogue of the places where they’re having all this fun as it is a development of their relationship. Maybe the bear is just supposed to be a symbol of the place where this romance occurs.

      That said, a bear is symbolic of a great many different things, and as such not very useful for helping the readers pin down the milieu. Is this book set in Russia? Alaska? Maybe the couple time travels back to the short-lived and ill-fated California Republic (which had a bear on its flag)? Whatever the case may be, this cover’s not telling us anything useful about either the setting or what kind of adventures the couple will be having there.

      Unless he’s planning a radical departure from his previous genre and style, I’d recommend the author look back at some of the covers on his other books and do something like he did with those: show a landscape from the place where the story’s set, with the bear, woman, and/or moon inserted into it only as necessary. For a milieu romance, he could certainly do worse than to have a cover showing a forested Alaskan mountainside at night with a full moon glowing over it, a bear peeking out from the woods, and maybe the woman warming herself by a campfire in the foreground.

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