Can You Judge An eBook By Its Cover?

Original Cover

I’ll confess of the more than sixty books I’ve written, I’ve had good covers and not-so-good covers.  I’ve had a few great ones, too.  Not surprisingly, those books sold the best.  Have I made my point succinctly?  Covers make a difference.  A very big difference.  And sometimes it’s hard to get them right.

Original Cover

When I decided to publish my two out-of-print Avon releases from the mid 1990s as eBooks, I had an ace in the hole.  My lovely and talented daughter-in-law who just happens to be a graphic designer.  Tina was excited about the chance to create new covers, and I was even more excited about letting her do them.

You might ask why I didn’t just use the originals, which, while a bit outdated are still quite lovely?  While I own the “words” and received the rights back to them once the novel went out of print, I never owned the art.  So it was up to us to create our own.

I learned immediately that “concepts” aren’t as easy to show as they are to verbalize.  The two novels have a “fantasy” twist of sorts.  I’ve always wondered what it would be like to wake up in another person’s life.  Haven’t you wished you could walk through someone else’s days, just to see what the world looks like from a different perspective?  In Once More With Feeling and Twice Upon A Time, I imagined just that.  So when it came to covers, I thought of shadows and blurred images.  Something to show the “fantasy” premise of the stories. 

Two problems cropped up immediately.  First, my idea was nearly impossible to show in a way that would make sense to a reader looking for a book to buy.  Second, although the premise is unusual, and let’s face it, impossible in real life, the stories are classic women’s fiction.  The premise is the only fantasy element.  The stories are about women discovering who they are and what they love.

Art from iStock Photo

The covers, then, needed to show the stories for what they really were.  Tina and I searched for photographs that would convey the feel of the novels.  Twice Upon A Time was the easiest by far.  In the novel, Mary Kate McKenzie, who wakes up after a near-death experience to discover a completely unfamiliar life, also discovers that she’s in charge of a community garden run by a group of nuns, a vocation she once aspired to.  The problem, of course, is that Mary Kate despises dirt and, apparently, loves men, since she finds she is mysteriously pregnant  with no father  in sight.  Mary Kate’s transformation is, I hope, poignant, romantic and humorous.  Since much of it takes place in the garden among a patch of sunflowers, the moment we stumbled on this photo at, we knew we had our background.  The photo said everything about Mary Kate’s new life.

From that point on, Tina worked her magic.  Mary Kate is a redhead with curly hair.  Tina touched up the photo so the woman’s longer blonde hair doesn’t show under the hat, and created more sky for the title.  Next the font for my name.  We settled on one similar to the one used by Mira Books, to provide some continuity.  She chose an italic for the title and tag line that was similar to title fonts of my other books, but not identical.  The idea was for readers to recognize this as an Emilie Richards cover, without mimicking. 

eBook Cover

 The result was exactly what I’d hoped for.

Once More With Feeling, the first book of the two connected stories, was much harder.  For the most part, Once More is an urban novel taking place on Long Island and Manhattan.  I wanted contrast between the two books, but the same basic feel.   Easier said than done.

Next Friday I’ll show you our journey and the magic Tina worked to make those ideas spring to life.  Can you tell this has been a learning experience?  I have a new respect  for the cover art department at my publisher.  Now I know just how hard they work.  One thing’s for certain, though, I couldn’t have been luckier.  Working with my daughter-in-law was a dream come true.  I’m looking forward to more collaborative ventures in our future.


  1. Heidi on March 5, 2011 at 9:50 am

    I so love the cover with the sunflowers! It is much more inviting than the pink one with the hummingbirds on it. I have not read these two books yet, but plan to put them on my list. I am first beginning “The Things That Keep Us Here” by Carla Buckley that you recommended in a previous blog.

    • Emilie Richards on March 5, 2011 at 10:10 am

      I love hearing how the covers strike people. Thanks for your feedback. I hope you’re enjoying Carla’s book. It’s a lot to think about.

  2. Sherry on March 5, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Great books! The cover is a great one for the story.

  3. pat sloan on March 5, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    that is just so COOL!!! I love seeing how art evolves… and now I want to read both stories!

  4. Diane Chamberlain on March 5, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Wow, Emilie HUGE improvement. All I could think about with those birds is that I didn’t want to be under them.

    • Emilie Richards on March 5, 2011 at 3:58 pm

      You rascal, you. I’ll never look at them the same way again.

  5. Kay Myhrman-Toso on March 5, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    I love the new cover! For me, it is much more enticing than the hummingbirds. May just have to finally break down and get an e-reader… Reading Diane’s comment made me laugh, thinking of hearing my aunt quip, “Isn’t it a good thing that cows don’t fly?!” Sorry, could resist!

  6. Linda P. on March 5, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I think the new cover is much more enticing to read. I enjoyed reading how the process takes flight to a new place in time for readers. I would like to read both, and looking forward to seeing how the next cover evolves.

  7. Lavanya on March 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I absolutely love the new cover!!! It is so refreshing and inviting, not to mention cheerful. It’d be a delight to read for sure. I’ve recieved the autographed copy of “Rising Tides”. It too has an inviting cover and I cannot wait to dig in. Thank you!

    • Emilie Richards on March 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm

      I’m glad you like all the covers. Hope you enjoy Rising Tides.

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