New Covers: Are We Having Fun Yet?

new coversTwo weeks ago I told you about the new/old series I will be re-releasing soon.

My Homecoming series, Runaway, The Way Back Home, and Fugitive, was first published in 1990. Even if I had the rights to the cover art (I don’t) I wouldn’t use it. They need fresh, contemporary and new covers that better express the stories inside.

Well, saying that was so easy. I just wish that coming up with covers was half as simple.

I work with a talented artist, but while she does the hard part, I have to explain the basics of what I’d like to see in order for her to start. The problem? I don’t know.

Take the first book, for instance, because from that book we’ll develop the entire series “look.” Runaway is the story of a woman searching for her runaway teenage sister. The book opens in a sleazy bar in New Orleans, and big sis is dressed as if she plans to sell her favors on the local street corner. She’s not planning to do so, but she wants to fit in so that other runaways will talk to her and maybe, just maybe, she’ll find her sister.

So here are the problems:

  • If we use a picture of a teenager running away—I found a great one of a teen boarding a Greyhound—the cover seems to say “young adult novel.” I”m not writing YA, so that’s the wrong message.
  • If we use a lady of the night (does that sound familiar?) this appears to be a book about prostitution. It’s not. So that’s the wrong message.
  • If we show a New Orleans landscape and nothing else, then the book appears to be what? General fiction? A travel guide? I have no idea.  But both are the wrong message.

Cover designers have lots of commercial photography to choose from. All the sites, Shutterstock, Deposit Photos, iStock Photo, etc. have great search engines. So we can scour the sites for evocative photos using elements that might work. I must have looked at a thousand photos so far. Of course changes will be made to whatever we use. But this is the first step. Sadly, so far, it hasn’t led anywhere we want to go.

You can see why we’re stuck. Too many possibilities and none of them quite right. I have no doubt Karri will come up with a wonderful cover, but I wish I could be more help. Do you have any ideas? If you were going to design this cover, what would you like to see on it? What would best portray the story inside? What would make you open the book?

Here’s an article that lists all the elements we have to watch for. Think you’re up to the task?

Let me know. I’ll pass along your ideas.


In the meantime… drum roll…

Congratulations to Darla, who commented on last week’s post. Darla will receive an autographed copy of A Family of Strangers, and everybody else receives my fondest thanks for playing along with the giveaway.


  1. Donalene Poduska on August 7, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    As I read your problems, a thought came to mind. How about a collage, one picture slightly on another. You could do the teenage — then the lady of the night — then New Orleans. The artist would start at one corner and gradually move down. Just a thought –Don

    • Emilie Richards on August 26, 2020 at 10:53 am

      No cover problems on that one. I love the covers, and the use of the black and white photos, torn, to show the relationships were basically torn asunder. I love that you’re imagining covers. It’s fun, isn’t it?

  2. […] in September. While I was working on putting them back into print I told you a little about the covers and the stories, and now I’m delighted to share they’re finally ready to go. Before I […]

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