Nevertheless, I’m still glad I chose the cover I did for the first book in my trilogy.
A recent spate of potential new readers and reviewers of What if? brought back the issue of the first cover’s apparent suggestion the book is for younger readers. But the cover was part of a (too?) crafty plan I had for the entire series of covers.
To wit, the three books take place over a little more than a year in the life of Jeremy Shuttle. Though he but turns from 12 to 13 in the trilogy, the change in who he is and how he involves himself in the world is significant.
In the first book, he is a loner, spending more time with his imagination than with kids his own age. Jeremy is not sullen over his status, quite the opposite. Gifted at drawing, he immerses himself in his own ideas. How would a 12-year old with little social skills (nor people to practice them on) see the world? With perhaps a childlike wonder and a fanciful eye. So, too, is the cover for Book One.
By the second book, drama and danger has intruded into Jeremy’s life. He has had his first experiences with disobeying his Mom and his first exposure to…something that could be love. Though slow to mature, the changes are inevitable, thus the cover for Book Two begins to shift from outright fantasy to fantastic.
The finale brings Jeremy to the point of several decisions that few adults have had to face. Forced to deal with his emotions as they relate to others, he grows up. The final cover features starkly realistic images, symbolizing the move from imaginary worlds to the very real one he now interacts with.
Sure, the covers are fantastic…the books are fantasy, after all. But the theme was always about Jeremy’s growth from boy to young man.
I understand that “if you have to explain it…” means the covers didn’t convey the message well or were too subtle (which amounts to the same thing). I seriously doubt, though, that my sales would have been dramatically higher with an “older” cover for Book One. I think it more likely to place that burden on lackluster marketing skills.
As I embark on a new book, totally unrelated to the trilogy and more adult in nature, I can still look at the three covers and feel satisfaction and pleasure at their concept and execution.