If you’ve followed my blog since 2012, you may remember mention of a book called Captive that I was writing. I shelved it because I felt I wasn’t ready to do the story justice and also because it’s very adult, and I was focused on marketing YA at the time. Now I’ve returned to it. Why? I guess it’s time. I feel confident that I have the skills as an author to give it the depth it requires. I also decided that I could tell this story, of which sex is a big part, without being explicit. I wasn’t sure about that for a while. It could be written as erotica, but I think that would turn away readers who would appreciate the deeper themes – the nature of freedom, the beauty of surrender, and the relationship between mind and experience. The themes are explored within a steampunk romance.
I had to change the name too because another author has put out a series called Captive. It took some googling and a brainstorming session over a family lunch to come up with a new title – Dispossessed. It suits the story well because it relates not only to the lead lady’s imprisonment but also her being stripped of her lands, her belongings and even her identity. The only other book I found with the name is called The Dispossessed and it’s non-fiction. So I’ve gone with Disspossed – despite all the s’s.
Part of the creative process for me is writing the blurb and designing the cover. I don’t make the finished product, I get my cover artist to do that, but creating the design helps me to pinpoint the mood and focus of a book.
I thought you might like to see the incarnations of a cover as it progresses through different ideas.
Here’s the first idea – my first slap up! Yes, it’s rough.
Version 2 played around with the title and how to get the steampunk feel across, but I felt it was too heavy and took away from the drama of the basic image.
I discussed the covers with other authors on Facebook and the thoughts were mostly that neither said romance. I liked the title having the feeling of a sign slapped across it, but it made it seem like a thriller, so I had to find a different font.
The font is now more like what you’d expect from a romance or steampunk novel, and I added the men in for the romantic element. However, they look a little ghostly and mysterious, and it’s not a mystery and there are no ghosts. I also didn’t really like the guys there. It took away from the drama of the photo.
I tried a different approach to the romance angle, and I liked the design better than the floating heads – excuse the poor photoshopping, but these were just rough ideas not finished works. I felt that the one on the right had the feeling of the novel in the relationship between the two people.
One author said that the girl in the right photo had more of an expression that suggested romance than the one on the left, where she looks like she’s trying to get out – which she is in the story, but this is all about how we want a reader to perceive the story. Her trying to get out suggests a thriller of some kind.
Another author pointed out that the bare skin suggested explicit content. (I also learned that Amazon doesn’t allow nipples to be shown.) It’s not a good idea to set up expectations in readers and then not fulfil them. She also suggested a tag line, which I resisted at first, but it would allow me to ditch the guys, and might help with marketing, so …
I went back to simple and dramatic and chose the most romantic looking of the two photos.
Simple is always best, I’ve discovered.
I ALSO FIXED THE SPELLING MISTAKE IN THE TITLE!
The final may still be different but I’m happy with this for now.
Or there’s this one.
Which do you prefer?
Going through this process helped me think about how to angle the book. If you’ve decided before you finish writing what you can call a story in terms of genre, it helps you write it with the genre in mind. My books are always cross genre, and this is much more than a romance, but I have to define it somehow, and I think that romance readers will enjoy it most so I should direct it to them. I mean, I’m not going to call it a metaphysical romance am I? Not if I want readers.
Do you find different arts contribute to the development of a project? If so, in what way?