(First published on my original website in May 2014)
(Leeds Castle, England)
For want of the nail the shoe was lost.
For want of the shoe the horse was lost.
For want of the horse the rider was lost.
For want of the rider the message was lost.
For want of the message the battle was lost.
For want of the battle the kingdom was lost.
All for the want of a horseshoe nail.
Gee willkers! And all I want is a cover for this novel!
Apparently, no one writes much historical fiction set in the 18th century any longer. And there are NO novels about Quakers or members of the Society of Friends. How do I know?
I know because I have just spent countless hours the past week pouring over stock images. All of the colonial woman, and that is perhaps about three at the most, have dresses that are too fancy, or their faces are not my Mary Langdon McKechnie, or they are blonds with and without their hair down. Don’t even get me started on how difficult it is to find colonial men.
Covers are important. Let me repeat – COVERS ARE IMPORTANT! How many times have you picked up a novel based solely on the cover?
The cover for Keeping Secrets needs to speak of intrigue but not deception. It needs to speak of long lost secrets (you’ll have to read the book to find out what they are) that can change lives. it needs to scream “colonial America.” And on top of that tall order, it needs to be something I can tweak slightly, with the same theme for the second and third books – Breaking Promises and Binding Fire.
And most of all, it can’t be smutty. Don’t get me wrong. Smut sells. Plenty of people ike to write it and read it. But this isn’t such a novel, and it would discredit my characters to put pictures of them in such poses on the front cover. Besides, there aren’t any smutty graphics of colonial men and women either.
“Well, if you’re having such trouble, hire someone.” Surprsingly, most of the designers are using the same stock photography that I have access to. They may have better graphic tools, but I still have to pick out my own pictures. That brings me back to the original problem.
I finally, after days and hours and bleary eyes, designed a cover yesterday that I really like. It doesn’t scream “colonial America,” but it does have a hint of the historical. The back cover copy, with a scene from the book, lets the reader know this is a work of historical fiction and the characters are members of the Society of Friends.
I may have to go with it. After all, I don’t want to lose the whole kingdom for want of a nail.
Or, in this instance, the whole book for want of a cover.