Help Me, Obi-wan!


You’re my only hope!

So here’s the thing. I’m putting these backlist works up for electronic availability, right? Short stories and then we’ll see.

On the one hand, it’s a blast.

On the other hand…Dammit, Jim, I’m a writer, not a marketing department! I’m a moonlighting graphic twiddler, not a design team! And I’m mixing up my nostalgic media references!

Cover 1

The spooky river. Ooooh...

And so I find myself faced with…


So guess what! Yes! I want you to make them FOR me! Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Sometimes I don’t have much choice with cover concepts or ideas–I’m working with stock photos, yes I am, even when I sometimes, er, twiddle with them.   So when I started looking for a Deep River Reckoning cover–the short story from the Reckoners universe just now available on Kindle, and which I’ll actually talk more about on Wednesday–I went hunting a really spooky river.

And hunting. And hunting…

Well, I was really happy with the end result, but now that I’ve had a chance to ponder it–and get a bit of feedback…I wonder if it’s not just plain too…


You know. Pretty, but not grabby. Maybe not quite the right balance for a fiction world that’s contemporary, smart-ass, full of ghosties, full of magical action, and yah…has quite the little romance thing going for it, too?

So I played with a couple of other things, and then I realized…wow. I have no idea what to do.

Which cover would make YOU think about “picking up the book”?

AKA, “Hellllp MEEEEEE!”

(PS yes, there are watermarks on the bottom two. These are comp versions of the images for now…)

Cover 2

Ahh, the haunted woman. Evocative!

Cover 3

Scary stuff happening here! Run away! No, pick me up!

About Doranna

My books are SF/F, mystery, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. My dogs are Beagles, my home is the Southwest, and the horse wants a cookie!
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45 Responses to Help Me, Obi-wan!

  1. Lorraine says:

    I’m biased. I like #3.

  2. I’m not biased ;D I vote for #2 — that face of mystique. ~m

  3. Cindy says:

    I like them all but cover #1 will probably be the one that would call me to pick up the book.

    • Doranna says:

      Cindy, thanks for your help! I love #1, of course, but now…I just can’t see straight!

  4. Dru says:

    I like the eyes in the third cover.

    • Doranna says:

      Dru, thanks for your help! I did the eye thing–is it scary that I was good with evil?

  5. Linda Kuzminczuk says:

    I like the first actual river scene – really does look spooky

    • Doranna says:

      Linda, thank you! I’m glad I’m not the only one who iniitially spotted that river as spooky…

  6. Adrianne says:

    I’m for #2.

  7. #3 … I like them all, but #1 and #2 both have a more historical, gothic feel to me. Not smart-ass at all. And those red eyes and arched eyebrows would make me pick up a book. 🙂

  8. Heather says:

    Okay, I bought it with the river on the cover, so that didn’t turn me away. But of the two “ladies” I love the red eyes on the bottom one.

    • Doranna says:

      Heather, thanks! I think it’s probably different if you go with the intent to buy, as opposed to browsing, so I’m really glad to have your opinion.

  9. Paula Lieberman says:

    None of the above, I like illustration which tells me about the story, not the sorts of covers where there’s no clue or actual misdiretion on the cover about location, timeframe, social mores.. e.g., there’s a Susan Grant SFR set mostly onboard a spaceship, which the cover looks like some detective dick (non-sexual use of the word referring to detective…) with more or less contemporary pistol and contemporary offdutry clothes…. an SF/F cover artist looked the cover and said, “Sales meeting gone wrong.”

    The art doesn’t imply paranormal/ghosties to me, it looks like generic turn-me-off stuff–again, no clue that the content isn’t contemporay no-genre-differentiation. Facial parts covers (and torsos with all or part of the head cut off) don’t attract me, they repell me, and it takes extra effort for me to NOT automatically bypass them.

    Covers I like are more like the ones that Diana Pharoah Francis has been getting for the Crosspointe books [but apparently those work majorly better on me than a lot of other people, sigh] [and though they are original fantasy universe, not UF/PNR], the Ilona Andrew book that’s not one of the Kate Daniels books (can’t remember the title)….

    One author remarked on a cover of a book the author cowrote that the denoting fantasy element on the cover, which had if I recall a Civil War era ship on the cover, were sparklies strewn about on the cover. Other indications of non-real-world/Otherness/Fantasy content, include ghostly images — transparent faces or larger amounts of see-through people indicating ghostly presences, etc.

    • Doranna says:

      Thanks, Paula! Unfortunately, stock photography rarely includes actual ghosts, so I’m working the conceptual side of things. I can only hope the covers aren’t too off-putting to those who feel as strongly as your words indicate.

  10. Liz Bennefeld says:

    I like the river cover. I like #2 not at all. The third is okay, but not really compelling.

  11. Sarah Storme says:

    I like #2 — looks mysterious and provocative. (I think you’ll find as many opinions here as you have book covers — maybe more!) When I’m buying online, I really rely on the synopsis more than the cover, which is a little different than buying off the shelf. Good luck!

    • Doranna says:

      Thanks, Sarah–I probably need to work at my synopsis, too. ;> I can see you’re right about as many opinions as posters, but in a way that says something, too!

  12. Lady Jade says:

    Why not combine 1 and 3….like make the eyes misty/ghostly over the river?

    • Doranna says:

      Thanks, Lady Jade! I’ll give that a try here behind the scenes. My sense is that it’ll be a little too cluttered for as large as these images can be–so, just a murky mess on the screen at that size–but it’s a neat concept!

  13. Gabi Stevens says:

    I was going to vote for #3, but I like Lady Jade’s idea best.

    • Doranna says:

      Thanks, Gabi! It’s a cool idea, isn’t it? Not sure if I can pull it off, but I like thinking about it. (Thanks for letting me know about #3, also–I have the feeling I’ll have to rely on one of the current options…)

  14. Shea Berkley says:

    Hey Doranna! Cover #1 feels spooky to me, and #3 brings in a paranormal aspect to the book, though it doesn’t say ghost to me, more demon/vampire presence with the red glowing eyes. Although I like #3, I’m leaning more toward #1.

  15. Doranna says:

    Hi, Shea! And thank you! I’m glad to know it’s not just me with the spooky in #1.

    The ghost in the story does get red-eyed now and then, so that would hopefully resonate, but not until after the story is read…

  16. Kada says:

    Could you go with #1 and superimpose a ghostly image in it somewhere?

  17. Elizabeth says:

    I like the river scene. If the title were “Down by the Riverside” or “Home on Easy River” and advertised as “family memoir” it might look serene, but the colors and layout make it look sinister or at least suspenseful to me. “Reckoning” suggests price…”Deep River” suggests things in the river that may rise, or a place to throw bodies.

    And “Deep River Reckoning” with that scene means I’m intrigued and want more.

    The faces–not so much. Certainly not the pair of red eyes dominating the cover.

    But I don’t have a Kindle. If this were in paper form, I’d definitely pick up a book with that title and that river shot over the same title on the others.

  18. Ilona F says:

    Of the three I would first be drawn to #3 and pick it up. However the blurb is always the thing to pull me into buying it 😀

  19. Doranna says:

    Thanks, Ilona! Given the variety of tastes in covers, I’m glad to see the blurb is an important part.

    Of course, now I have to go obsess over the blurb… ;>

  20. Darynda says:

    Okay, while I like #1 okay, I wouldn’t pick it up, but that’s just me. I would only pick that up if someone said, “That is the best book ever!” Personally, I love #2. #3 looks like a vampire book. JMHO.

    • Doranna says:

      Darynda, LOL! It’s a pretty evil look, that’s for sure. Thanks for stopping by!

  21. Caryn says:

    I like #2 — #3 looks like the witch from Bell, Book and Candle with Jimmy Stewart.

    For me, I’d buy off your name. I’m not sure enough of the genre of the story to know which cover, but if it’s the same suspense/horror as the first book, then I like #2 as it conveys mystery and ghosts to me. The river looks…serene.

    • Doranna says:

      Hi, Caryn! IThe river might not look so serene once I add Kada’s idea to it…mwah ha ha!

  22. Alex says:

    I like #3. Is the brown frame mandatory? It makes it look slightly old fashioned.

    • Doranna says:

      Alex–For the moment, let’s call the brown frame mandatory. 8) We have to save my sanity somehow…

  23. Patty says:

    # 2 didn’t strike me as spooky at all. #1 looks spooky enough and “river” is in the title. #3 was creepy enough…I would also read the synopsis. I guess #1 would make me pick it up….Not all that helpful! But it was interesting to see them!

  24. Ross Ashley says:

    Liking number 1, here.

  25. Doranna says:

    Thanks, Ross!

  26. Pete Granzeau says:

    I don[t think much of the half-cover graphic design, in the first place, much preferring full cover illos with title and author overlain (overlaid? whichever). That said, the cover which might attract me would be the spooky river.

    • Doranna says:

      Yup, I hear you, Pete. I made the decision to go with this “look” due to logistics and cost…I think, given my resources, it was the beset way to deal with the challenge. One of these days I’ll try to be a whole art department, but so far…not quite.

  27. Morgan says:

    I like the river, but I’m not convinced it’s quite spooky enough. I love the red-eyed lady.

    • Doranna says:

      Thanks, Morgan! I hope you like the new version, which combines both elements… (I’m still not sure it’ll really come through at Amazon size, but…)

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