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Learning How To Make Successful Covers

Okay, so last time, I mentioned that I'm getting ready to publish on Amazon as the next stage in my writing journey. First, I'm publishing my Breaking the 4th Wall episodes that have been extremely popular with readers, currently with 11K reads on Wattpad. I know the content of these episodes is a fun ride, but I'm also learning the basics of marketing. Covers are a big part of that.

I posted my initial cover design to an indie cover group on facebook. Can you say 'ouch'? They hated them. Everything from the fonts (too many), the design (too busy), and the images (not blended enough and too cut-paste collage looking). They didn't like my taglines. Pretty much there was nothing they liked about them, telling me to go look at genre expectations.

Now, to be fair, I had actually looked at genre cover expectations for erotic romance, paranormal urban romance, and fantasy romance. Yet these three have some distinct differences, making it a challenge to hit the right notes. My original idea was more romance, less paranormal, less fantasy.

So, after a few days of considering the feedback and doing more research, I realized I'd also fallen into the trap of trying to convey a scene from each episode in the cover. Yet, potential readers haven't read the story, so conveying the specifics of a scene isn't particularly effective. Instead, I need to convey a theme for Breaking the 4th Wall. As the title suggests, the series is meta-fiction. The characters interact with the reader and with their writer... okay, a fictionalized version of a their writer, not actually me. It's a fun premise, but how to portray that this story is erotic romance with elements of urban paranormal and fantasy?

Starting with the font, I reduced it from four fonts to three. My goal is to use the same font for my name, regardless of the book series, so it was important for me to find something that was not quite a Times New Roman, but had that similar feel as a simple serif font. Yet, I also wanted something for the series subtitle and episode number that would give that movie or television episodic vibe. That brings me to two fonts. My third needed to convey the specific genre of romance and fantasy that both typically use fonts that look like cursive writing, and I've used this for the focus word of the title. I reduced the tagline to its essence.

That leaves me left with images and colours. Erotic romances tend to go for purples, pinks, reds, and blacks, but I definitely want some contrast. There are also often passionate couples embracing or in some sensual position, male bare chests or upper bodies, or sexy females as images. Yet, I also want to convey that the meta-fiction aspect and paranormal/fantasy vibe, so I used a pink-purple nebula/space background to lay the bare male chest on, combined with imagery of a reader/writer character to covey those themes. This time, I blurred the edges and used translucence to layer my images.

What do you think? Does this convey the right genre and immediate expectations?

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