I got a nice surprise this week from Anela of Amid The Imaginary, one of the reviewers to whom I provided an ARC a few months ago. Anela has been, since launch, one reviewer I really wanted to read Blood Toy. Not only is she a champion of self-published work, I love the format of her reviews, which includes book info and synopsis, the first line of the story, her take on the book—from the magical to the mundane—and a summary of her thoughts. Trust me, hers are some of the most thorough reviews you will find in the blogosphere! After lackluster October sales and delays on Book 2 which put its anticipated date of publication into Winter 2016 (vs. Fall 2015), I don’t know if I could have handled a bad review this week, especially a terribly thorough bad review, so I practically shouted for joy when I saw she had awarded Blood Toy 5 stars.
As I have said before, most favorable reviews are prefaced with a warning, so when I saw the usual “should come with a warning label,” I wasn’t surprised. Blood Toy has, after all, been called dark, sadistic, and abusive. But when I read, “I had such a hard time putting it down that I was actually reading the damn thing while walking out to my car in the parking lot after work,” I literally laughed out loud. This is the first warning I’ve received against walking and reading!
Despite Anela’s enthusiasm for the content of my book, she held back nothing in her disdain for the depiction of Diane on my cover. “She looks like she fell off a mud flap.”
Ok, to be fair, I have gotten flack for my cover from the start, but I chose it because 1) I personally love the design and because 2) Diane told me in a dream she liked it and I am superstitious like that. Oddly enough, women tend to notice Diane’s shapely cleavage, while men just wonder how the chain mail stays on her breasts. In the context of the scene the cover references, the logistics of how the mail is attached is really, really not important, BUT Anela went on to say, “I know I would’ve scrolled right past this in the Kindle store thinking it was just another paranormal sporting a heroine that is heavier on jugs than brains.” That got me thinking….If she felt that way, how many people have scrolled past the cover thinking it was another book light on plot and heavy on sex.
Every author knows that, to be successful, you must be willing to kill your darlings. Maybe this cover is my last darling. Maybe I should scrap the design altogether and republish a new set of covers for Book 1 and 2 when Kindred Shadows launches. Or maybe this is a minority opinion with zero impact on book sales. Either way, I don’t have the budget to go back to the drawing board, but it is a theory worth testing. So in the meantime, I had my designer give Diane a more concealing/realistic outfit and a more intimidating stance and will be rolling out this new cover image on the Kindle Edition this weekend.
I personally think this cover makes Diane look angry, worried and conflicted, which is appropriate. I do not think it is nearly as flattering as the first version of the cover, but then…that’s kinda the point. And the more I look at it, the more captivated I become by it.