Talking Story

This week I’ve been in graphic design hell as I’ve been trying to create new covers for the first of three stories based on re-imagined western fairy tales with a Hawaiian twist. The books have been ready for quite awhile–it’s the eBook, paperback, and hardback covers that have been holding up publication.

The whole thing has been driving me crazy.

Once I have a solid concept, I turn the designs in progress to different focus groups. They’re told that the books are standalone serials that are only loosely linked through recurring characters and settings from other books I write and that they there are sci-fi or magical realism with romance elements. People looked at them and then submitted their feedback in writing. I took their feedback and refined the designs, eventually showing a new iteration to more focus groups until I thought I had the best cover possible given my limitations of time and money. The finer details got refined by a trusted handful of people.

Here’s where I started about a week ago.


I liked that flowers and borders framed the series as a set. The title fonts and center images gave clues about the genre for each story. The additional text explained that these were riffs on traditional fairy tales. Winner, winner, chicken dinner, right?

Nope.

 

Public Focus Group Feedback #1

“Too busy.”

“Too much text.”

“These don’t look like they go together. Use the same fonts.”

“Fonts need work.”

“You can’t sell romances set in the same world with different genres. Are you stupid?”

“Everything is wrong. You need to hire me to create proper covers. You’re going to fail at this.”

(I looked up this person’s portfolio. Once I stopped laughing, I took everything they said with an ocean of salt.)


ROUND 2

I dropped the floral border, change font colors and the bar/band textures, and other minor changes.

Public Focus Group Feedback #2

“Too much text.”

“Body parts are horrible on romance covers.”

“These look like different genres. One looks sci-fi, one looks chick-lit, and the other is just terrible.”

“Use the same font on all the titles.”

“The quality of the artwork with the flowers was better.”

“Unless you’re Stephen King, nobody cares what else you’ve written, and if you’re Stephen King, you don’t have to brag.”

“Rell is whiter than the others. Was this intentional?”

“Pua looks like she has mutton chops.”

“Unless Nani doesn’t have arms in the story, her truncated limbs are freaking me out.”

“You’re going to get sued for calling these Fractured Folktales. It’s too close to Fractured Fairytales.”

(Nope. No copyright issues. But thanks for the warning.)

“Fonts need work.”

“You’re hiding the beautiful artwork behind too much text. Let the art tell the story.”

“Hire me. These suck.”

(Also reviewed this person’s portfolio. Hard pass.)


ROUND 3

Changed Rell from an ‘okole shot to a whole person, realigned all the images, used the same font for the titles, dropped top bar, and other small changes.

 

Public Focus Group Feedback #3

“Meh.”

“I liked it with all the flowers better.”

“Boring.”

“Fonts need work.”

“So much better without all that text.”


ROUND 4

Changed Rell to a more active pose, changed title font styles and location, cropped images differently, other minor changes.

Small Focus Group Feedback 4

“It’s fine.”

“There’s something weird about Pua’s stomach.”

“Mom, I’m busy with finals.”

“Come to bed. It’s 4:30 am.”


ROUND 5

I think this where they will end up–or something very similar. The font snaps and can be read at thumbnail size for eBooks. I like that the women are strong and beautiful on the covers. We’ll test market them a little in eBook before committing to paperback and maybe hardback options. What do think?

And now to start on the backs and spines–and blurbs and meta data. Send chocolate. It’s going to be another long week.

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