Evolution of a book cover: Joe Robbins in a Fateful Greed

When I started writing Hill Country Greed, I had no idea of the marketing imperative of securing a great cover. I didn’t know anything. I was too busy learning how to write an entertaining story to worry about marketing. But after I had invested five hundred hours in the story and was ready to share it with friends and family, I wanted a visual image to accompany the manuscript.

The first book cover, inspired by the prologue

The first book cover, inspired by the prologue

The working title was We Happy Few, a snippet of Shakespeare that appears several times in the novel.

My vision for the first cover was inspired by the nightmare described in the prologue. I sketched that vision with pencil on pad and asked my daughter Alex to turn it into a full-color image. Alex produced this cover in about an hour, and it was distributed to eight beta readers.

My beta readers encouraged me to keep writing, and I invested more hours in polishing the manuscript. I also began to research marketing a self-published book and learned of the importance of a compelling book cover.

A dramatic scene at the Driskill Hotel

A dramatic scene at the Driskill Hotel

I had heard from several readers that the dramatic Driskill Hotel scene was the hook that compelled them to read the entire book. Hoping to capitalize on that sentiment, I hired a professional cover designer and asked him to create an image of that scene.

By that time, my working title had changed to Beware the Brass Ring.

I found too ghoulish for my story. My beta readers felt the same way.

Over the course of writing the book I took several day trips around Austin to do scene research.

Climatic scene occurs at bluff overlooking the Pennybacker Bridge

Climatic scene occurs at bluff overlooking the Pennybacker Bridge

On one of those trips I took several photos from the Overlook above the Pennybacker Bridge. That location is important to the story, and I thought the view might make a good cover. For the second time I asked Alex to help. The title had changed again and was now: Hill Country Greed: An Austin, Texas Mystery.

I really like this cover.  Alex did a fantastic job; she created the clouds and changed the hue just enough to give the cover a suspenseful look.

Meanwhile, I continued to research book covers and learned about the importance of visibility of the title on the Thumbnail-sized photos that are shown on retail websites. The title was too small on the third cover, and I couldn’t envision how to make it bigger with the bridge as the central focus.

Final cover photo is from the Overlook

Final cover photo is from the Overlook

So I hired a second professional designer–Jason Alexander of Expert Subjects, LLC. To begin, I gave Jason several photos I had taken from the Overlook. The next day he gave me three different cover concepts to consider, including what would become the final cover. At first, I found the different font sizes of the words in the title and the bubble-effect of the letters strange, but they grew on me day by day. The first edition of Hill Country Greed was published with this cover.

 

 

 

One year later, a marketing expert told me this cover was not suitable for a mystery. He thought it looked more like a non-fiction book, so I hired a new designer and republished the book in late 2016 with a new cover.HC Greed ebook final v4 1.8MB

 

Finally, in 2017, I rewrote the entire Joe Robbins series, with new titles and new covers. Here is the cover for A Fateful Greed.AFatefulGreed_eBcov_FINAL

 

 

A Fateful Greed is available on Amazon.