The results are in!
First off, thank you to everyone who voted in my poll and gave me such great comments!
I really appreciate the thoughtful feedback. I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
The votes that hold a lot of weight for me are from people whom I know have read the book, because they already get the stylistic feel that it should convey.
That said, I wouldn’t dare discount those who haven’t read it (I’m mostly guessing—it wasn’t a parameter of the poll), because it’s people who haven’t read it whose attention I want to get, so they pull it off a shelf, click to buy, and so on.
But I also don’t want those people to buy it based on a cover that doesn’t represent the book’s guts very well. That would be a let down for both of us.
Before I reveal my plan, let me share the results.
They will be inaccurate to a point, because I got some of these numbers from a separate poll in a Facebook group that critiques book covers, and I think one or two of those people may have voted here on my website too. I don’t think it ultimately affects the results much.
So here it is (as of 11pm PST, June 6th, 2018):
First place with 51 votes
Second place with 12 votes
Third place with 9 votes
I want to say loud and clear that I think all of the artists’ work is exceptional and well worthy of praise. I am grateful I have been able to work with them.
The results show that the sword and lightning is the standout winner. I can clearly see why. It is a very professionally done cover. It would grab my attention on a shelf too. Although it did surprise me that the results were so heavily weighted in its favor.
But this poll was never going to be a winner-take-all deal for me. It was to help me learn what works. And your participation was invaluable.
There were some impassioned responses from folks whom I know read the book, and I’m taking them to heart, not to mention my own preconceived ideas.
What I learned from them is that the characters are important. They are the connection to the story and bring a more personal touch than a sword. Having them on the cover gives a better hint at the story inside.
As Razomatic pointed in the comments, “series books are pulled forward by character” and this is a series book, even though I may not have known it until it was finished.
Rob said in regards to one of them that the “character art is so specific it leaves no room for imagination, and it’s not quite how I pictured them.” This is really important, I think. While having characters can work well, having ones that are too detailed leaves nothing to the readers imagination.
I know that some people who haven’t read the book also chose a character illustration, and some who have read the book chose the sword and lightning. Everyone is drawn to different things and there can be no right answer to please everyone tastes.
I could hardly go wrong choosing the sword and lightning cover. But in spite of overwhelming results, I have decided against it…for now. I always give myself the freedom to change my mind.
But the truth is I’ve decided against all of them.
My plan now…is to combine a couple of these artists’ efforts.
One thing I didn’t mention is that I did the title design and layout for the two covers with the character illustrations. I’m not terrible with that stuff, but it’s not my forte, and there is definitely a lot of room for improvement. The one with the sword and lightning was fully pro: image, titles, and design.
So I plan to do this: take one of the character illustrations and give it to the designer who did the sword and lightning. And let her work some magic.
I feel good about this. I’m hoping that the end result will be something that keeps that youthful, fun, adventure feel with a manga flair, yet has the professional sauce these ones are missing.
I’m excited to see what she comes up with. I hope you’re with me.
I’ll be back to post the results and to get your thoughts.