This post was contributed by author Frankie Bow. Her cozy mystery, The Perfect Body, is currently on tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.
Book Cover Design and the Danger of Assuming
When I sent out The Perfect Body to my beta readers, I expected feedback and maybe even a little pushback. Professor Molly has just had a baby, and the story contains some graphic elements of postpartum life.
To my relief, no one was offended by descriptions of soggy breast pads or diaper explosions. But one reader had a strong opinion about the cover:
She hated the rat.
Uh-oh. Was this going to be a problem? Maybe the rat didn’t look enough like a lab rat because it was more brownish-gray than white. (A truly white rat would have disappeared against the white clipboard.)
I went to one of the Facebook groups I belong to, Save our Cozies, for advice. Save our Cozies is a community of passionate, outspoken cozy mystery enthusiasts.
Dear cozy-savers, I pleaded, I need your help! I got feedback from one beta reader that the creature on the cover was too vermin-y and gross. Does the redesign (with the standing rodent) fix it?
I expected to get some straightforward feedback from my fellow cozy-savers, and I was not disappointed.
The original rat was not popular. Readers thought it was “creepy,” and some even shared that they had a phobia of rats.
Maybe a cuter rodent would be better—a wee mouse, perhaps?
The little standing mouse had a few positive comments, and was definitely seen as cuter than the rat.
But overall, the rodents didn’t get a lot of love. Quite a few people said they wouldn’t even pick up a book with a rodent on the cover.
My beta reader, it turns out, was on to something.
Well then, how about a cover with no critters? This is nice, right?
Sure, but there was another problem now. Without a critter to draw the eye, the cover was too plain.
What design element would fit the composition of the book cover, and make people think of laboratory research? I asked my husband (who is an actual scientist) for ideas. He suggested I fill the space with a syringe and needle.
I thought that might be a bit much for a cozy, but I decided to give it a try.
We were down to hibiscus-only versus hibiscus and needle.
With only two cover designs to choose from, I enlisted the (free!) site, helpmechooseacover.com and invited the Save our Cozies members to vote.
The winner was hibiscus and needle, which got over 70% of the votes.
So what did I learn?
1) Don’t assume everyone shares your taste.
2) A lot of cozy readers really, really dislike mice and rats (which might by why they love cats so much).
3) “The Hibiscus and Needle” would be an intriguing name for a pub.
About the Book
The Perfect Body (Professor Molly Mysteries)
8th in Series
Hawaiian Heritage Press
Release Date – September 30, 2018
Print Length: 203 pages
Digital ASIN: B07GVRPNLY
When Professor Molly attends Mahina State University’s exclusive donor dinner, she doesn’t expect to have to share a table with the insufferable Stephen Park. Turns out it’s one thing to invite your toxic ex-boyfriend to drop dead…it’s quite another when he takes you up on it.
About the Author
Like Professor Molly, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining. In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.
RSS Feed https://frankiebow.com/feed/
Purchase link books2read.com/PerfectBody
Links to all platforms will be there.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
October 1 – Ruff Drafts – GUEST POST
October 2 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT
October 3 – Jane Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST
October 4 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW
October 5 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST
October 6 – Babs Book Bistro – RECIPE POST
October 7 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
October 8 – Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST
October 9 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
October 9 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – REVIEW
October 10 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
October 11 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
October 12 – My Reading Journeys – SPOTLIGHT
October 13 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
October 13 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
October 14 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
Here’s the link to the Rafflecopter for the blog tour’s giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/317ab7c621/