Titles and Covers: Telling the Real Story

This week Proman (husband and project manager) and I began an arduous project..

Actually the project began almost a year ago. That’s when I took a hard look at three of my back list books that I published on online bookstores for my readers to enjoy. Two of those books just needed new covers, and they got them. You’ll see those in the near future. But one needed much more. It needed a new title, too.

A little history:

Back when I was writing romance novels for Silhouette Romance, my editor called to tell me about a new promotion the Intimate Moments line would be doing. I’d written for this line along with two others, and particularly enjoyed them. The books were supposed to have something “extra,” in each story. For instance? Suspense. Melodrama. Paranormal. Authors like Sandra Brown and Nora Roberts wrote for Intimate Moments. This was a good place to be. As long as my story had a strong romance, I could write almost anything I wanted.

This particular promotion, though, asked chosen authors to pick a career for our hero, and the book would be featured that way. I still remember my editor, the esteemed Leslie Wainger, saying: “You know, like rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor…”

I asked Leslie if I could write about a minister, since I know churches at least half as well as my minister husband does. She agreed.

Later we began to talk title. And cover. I wanted to use a quote from the Bible: Where Dragons Lay. Leslie hummed and hawed and suggested Dragonslayer. We both loved it.

Only readers? Not so much. The thing is, Dragonslayer sounds like a fantasy novel. Maybe a fantasy novel meant for young adults. And while fantasy is great, who wants to pick up a book expecting one thing and finding something different? Then the cover arrived, a guy in a suit, who looked like he really wanted to shake your hand in the doorway. Thomas, my inner city minister, did not wear suits. And, you know, the word “salvation” was on the cover. And while it worked with the story, it didn’t work if you hadn’t read the book.

The iffy title and cover choice didn’t ruin the kudos for the book. Dragonslayer received one of the very rare 5 star reviews in what was then Romantic Times magazine. It also won the RITA from Romance Writers of America. But did it sell well? Not so much.

The Next Chapter:

Fast forward to last year. I’m going to let you in on a secret. Tweaking when something is a problem is not a great idea. Just isn’t. When the rights for Dragonslayer returned to me, I asked my talented daughter-in-law to create a new cover. I suggested graffiti on a wall, since the minister hero works with gang members. She did a great job. But you know? The book was still called Dragonslayer. And the cover did not give readers any helpful clues.

The Final Chapter?

Fast forward to this year. This year we stopped tweaking. First we started with the title. Dragons had to go. Hold Back the Night became the new title, perfect in every way for the story. Of course we’re making sure readers know in the description that it was formerly called Dragonslayer. No one wants to be fooled.

Next step was a new cover.

With a new full time job, my daughter-in-law didn’t have the time nor software to continue creating covers, and one day I came across a cover artist I loved. Art by Karri has created six new covers for me, including this one.

Writing books is a lot of work. Getting title and cover right? That’s a lot of work, as well. But I know that both the new title and cover give a much more accurate version of what comes after both. And I’m delighted they do.

We’re still replacing titles and covers online, as well as adding a paperback edition on Amazon.com. So you might find the book under Dragonslayer still, but not for long. I’ll provide links as soon as the big changeover is finished and the paperback is a go.

I’d love to hear your comments. What do you think? Were we right to make these changes?


  1. Martha O'Quinn on January 30, 2019 at 9:13 am

    Good morning Emilie, I did read “Dragonslayer” and I think it was with the second cover shown. I enjoyed it and shared it with my book club some years ago. I really, really like the new (proposed?) cover, it brings the minister into current trendings; the new title makes perfect sense, based on my memory, which tends to take lots of naps lately. lol Best to you and Proman as you take on such an enormous project.

  2. Nancy Lepri on January 30, 2019 at 10:37 am

    I think the new changes are awesome; more in time with the 21st century! Great job!

  3. Terri Chlapek on January 30, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    Love the new one so much more! I know I’ve told you this before, but if I weren’t reviewing for you I never would have picked up the one with the brick wall and I would have missed out on a great story!

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