Wednesday, May 16, 2012

When a Cover Isn't Working

As a published author, I'm constantly checking the stats on my sales reports. It's part of an OCD behaviour, I think most indie authors acquire after they've self-published. It's not a bad thing, per se, but just part of what naturally happens.

Now, my Regency romances have always sold well. (Thank you to all who've bought and reviewed them.) It's an amazing feeling to think that so many people have read them and I appreciate all the support. These aren't the problem.

If you were around a couple of weeks ago, (maybe 6) I was just getting ready to upload the long awaited REMEMBERING YOU, my contemporary women's fiction/romance. My topic of conversation revolved around the use of my name. Should I publish under Anne Gallagher, or some other form of that, or should I possibly have a different pen name altogether.

For the informal poll I posted, you overwhelmingly thought I should publish that under the name Robynne Rand. However, there were good arguments to be had in that, I built my Regency brand under Anne Gallagher, and I should take some of that juice and use it for the women's fiction.

Well, I thought and thought and thought, and took all the opinions under consideration. I decided to publish under A.R. Gallagher. It seemed the best of both worlds. I published that almost a month ago. I asked a writer, who doesn't read women's fiction to write a review, (which she did, and for someone who doesn't read w-f, she loved it.) So I thought it was all good. I mean, I had a 5-star review listed for it the day it came out. It was also listed on my author page on Amazon, so my Regency readers would see I had something else out there.

To date, I have sold one copy. (And I know who bought it.) One copy. To say this doesn't hurt is an understatement. I love this book. I cried when I wrote this book. I cry every single time I read this book. This is the one that is closest to my heart. And nobody wants it. This, my friends, is a writer's worst nightmare come true.

Now this isn't a plea for anyone to buy it. ABSOLUTELY NOT. This is a statement of what I am now going to do with it so that if any of you are experiencing the same thing, perhaps you will find comfort in that you are not alone. (See what I did there with the bold and italics and font color. This is not a plea. Besides, by the time you read this post, this incantation of this book will probably not even be up for sale anymore. (**note, it's not as of 5/10/12)

I am changing the cover. Now, this cover above is a picture of Bristol Harbor, Rhode Island where the book is set. I thought this was a good cover. Yeah, good. Not great, not wow, but I thought it did the novel justice. But, I've been thinking it's just not doing it for me, and obviously it's not doing a damn thing for sales.

I'm also going to republish it under the name Robynne Rand. I had a gut feeling about this, right from the get-go, and although the discussion was persuasive for the other, I should have listened to my guts. (Believe me, sometimes guts are the best thing to go on, no matter who says what.)

And thirdly, I'm going to market and promote this book, something I didn't do for my Regencies. I don't believe in cramming things down people's throats. But I think this is a good idea for this one. My Regencies speak for themselves, you know what you're getting just looking at the cover. This is a whole different animal. (So if any of you would like me to interview, or guest post, or whatever on your blog, now would be the time to email me. piedmontwriter at gmail dot com  Anne R. Allen had a post a few weeks ago, that said I should be the one to ask. I didn't know that. I thought YOU were supposed to ask ME. I hate to be pushy. But now I'm asking.)

With the advent of self-publishing, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, and if that means unpublishing and republishing, hey, it's not that hard and it only takes a few clicks of the mouse. But once it's all said and done and republished, I'm hoping that this little experiment will be a viable one, not only for me, but other indie's out there. I'll keep you posted.

Tell me -- If you are self-published, have you done this? Changed a cover? Changed your name? And even if you're not, what is your opinion on what I'm about to do? Do you think it will help in any way? I mean, what have I got to lose, right?

As of yesterday, this is the new version of the cover and pen name that is now published on Amazon. What do you think? Do you like this one better?  I do.


Elliot Grace said...

...Anne, I wouldn't fret over the lack of sales. As was noted with my online sales, its become abundantly clear that, for me anyway, they plummet with Spring's return. Then in the fall, as the temps drop, sales trickle through.

You're in a unique class of storyteller, for not everyone can sit down and write Regency Romance with the accuracy and grace that you pull off on routine.

Breathe a sigh, my dear, and relax, for it'll sell just fine, as your stories always do ;)


KarenG said...

I like both these covers actually, although the first one speaks to me a bit stronger than the second, which looks more memoir than women's fiction. Since I write women's fiction, let me assure you that it's not a hot seller but it can slowly, very slowly pick up speed. Truthfully, I think you had a really fine cover, and I think you made the right decision using A. R. Gallagher. As Elliot said, spring sales are really slow. It may not be your book at all, just the time of year.

Another thing to look at is description/summary. There's a lot of things to tweak without overall cover/author changes. When we added tags to my women's fiction (A Mormon Family Saga #1 and #2) sales really increased. Women's fiction can be obscure-- tags, summaries, advance reviews-- all these things will help buyers come to a decision.

Em-Musing said...

OK, you asked. I'm not fond of either. I think the hardest thing about self-publishing is trying to be an artist. I've worked in advertising and marketing and creating artwork that reflects a product or company is tough. What I see is one photo of the engaged couple, raggedly torn in half. Or even the photo of Rhode Island raggedly torn and with a few pieces strewn around it. I think a torn photos depicts an emotional story.
Just my two cents. Let me know if you want any more loose 'change.'

R. Mac Wheeler said...

Hi Anne

The new cover shouts memoir to me.

It lacks zip. Nothing to standout as a thumbnail.

Just my thoughts.

Good luck with it. Good story

- Mac

Anne Gallagher said...

El -- Thanks El. Yeah, I've been reading the forums and mostly everyone's sales are down. Having never gone through a spring slump before, it's hard to guage. I'll breathe for a little while longer.

Karen -- I tweaked and tweaked until I couldn't tweak anymore. I suppose it could be considered memoir, as it is told from that perspective.

Em -- It is an emotional story. The journey Genna takes is a long hard battle between what she wants, and what is right. I thought the pictures on the cover depicted it well.

Mac -- Well, the other cover lacked too. We'll see what happens.

Linda G. said...

I like the new cover, but I do agree with Karen -- it looks like a memoir.

But if it's written in the form of a memoir, that could work to draw in memoir-readers, who would likely enjoy the style even if it is fiction.

Anne Gallagher said...

Linda -- Thanks. It's kind of memoir. Written in diary form.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Changing the cover is one of the fixes I heard in some of the panels I went to at RT. If one cover doesn't work, try another.

You're right about that OCD part in writers. It's what I do when I send out queries - I check the e-mails frequently! I can only imagine what I'd do if I self-published! Eee gads!

Sarah Ahiers said...

I really like the photos in the new cover! But i'm not crazy about the pink. But that's just me, i don't think it's bad or anything. Of course, i really liked the first cover and i really don't know jack about WF, as you know.
Aslo, FWIW, i also cried when i read it.

Johanna Garth said...

I think the cover and the name can make all the difference and also the weather. When it's beautiful outside people are gardening and playing sports.

Anne Gallagher said...

Stacy -- Thanks. I've heard it to in the forums which is why I did it. I think this new cover conveys a lot of what's in the book without saying a word.

Sarah -- I love you! You have just paid me the highest compliment -- crying over my story! You cannot know how much that means to me.

Johanna -- I'm hoping this is one of those books people will read on the beach or by the pool. I know that's the reason I wrote it.

Linda Cassidy Lewis said...

Even though I did the artwork for the original cover, I changed mine to appeal more to my target reader--women, and I do believe it helped sales.

However, I'm not sure I understand starting over with a new author name. I hope you're using Anne Gallagher as one of your tags.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I like the original, but the new one is more distinctive and unique.
Sorry you've only sold one! That's terrible.

D.J. Kirkby said...

I am shocked you only sold one book! I liked the first cover but I also like the second cover. I am interested to know if it boosts your sales.

Anne Gallagher said...

Linda -- No, I wanted to keep Robynne Rand and Anne Gallagher separate. I've found in my own reading, I don't necessarily want to know that my favorite Regency author also writes erotic romance. I'd rather be a split personality than lose readers of my Regencies.

Alex -- Yeah, that was kind of heartbreaking. Thanks for the vote of confidence on the new cover.

D.J. -- I will definitely let you know if this cover changes anything in the way of sales. 26 more days to go.

Donna Hosie said...

It takes a brave writer to admit they may have made a mistake, so kudos to you for trusting your gut and being pro-active.

I love your Recency covers and they are absolutely the kind of thing I buy. I do agree with the comment though that your new cover looks like a memoir.

I hope you find something you are happy with.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I have friends who've changed the title and cover and their sales have dramatically increased.

Sorry, neither cover do anything for me, but I'm not your target market. I read mostly YA or romantic suspense. Put a hot, half naked guy on the cover then you've got my attention (unless he's a cowboy!). :)

Clarissa Draper said...

I like both covers too. However, the second one says memoir more.

Mark Koopmans said...

I lived in RI for a year, but your new title is MUCH better... speaks more to family and memories...

GOOD LUCK... wishing you a LOT of sales and success :)

Laurel Garver said...

The beauty is that you can try out cover 2 for a few months, then change it up again.

I do know that people are hard-wired to respond to faces, so that's in your favor. I do wonder if simpler would be a little better? I'm not sure whose face to focus on in the collage, and for that reason, the title doesn't resonate because it's unclear who is being remembered.

Anne Gallagher said...

Donna -- Thanks. We'll see what happens.

Stina -- I don't think this book warrants a half naked man, but then again, who knows.

Clarissa -- Well...we'll see where it ends up.

Mark -- Down in Newport, right? Thanks for the uplift. We'll see what happens.

Laurel -- The book is basically about everyone Genna missed while being gone for so long. There are several references to the pictures hanging on the wall she should have taken with her, which is why there are so many on the cover. The cover is supposed to represent that.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Wow. I'm special. I guess I'm the only one with the original version! Cool. Unfortunately, I'm not so special that I've actually READ the book yet. Had a whole list of other books in line ahead of it, but hope to get to yours soon. And once I get back to the Blogosphere, I'd love to feature an interview with you on my blog. Will email you when I get past all the upcoming family stuff.

Eric W. Trant said...

Eh, some book hit and some don't. I think sometimes that if I like the story too much, nobody else will. It seems that the less I like the work, the more others love it.

There's no correlation, really, between what the author thinks about the book, and how well the readers will receive it. Some of the best-selling authors believe all their work is crap!

In any case, you enjoy a degree of success that most writers never find. Even one book sold is one more than most authors sell.

Celebrate your victories, mourn your losses, push the book if you can, but don't take it personally, not ever.

- Eric

Deanna Sletten said...

I found you through a Tweet partner on WLC and then found your blog because I thought it was interesting how your other novels sell well but your WF novel didn't - I had to find out more. I am new to self-publishing women's fiction but have had fairly good success considering no one knew who I was 7 months ago. Anyway - I hope you will take this in the good spirit that I mean it to be - your first cover is 100% better for a women's fiction novel than your second one. I agree with some of the other people who said that the second one looks like a memoir. If I looked at both of these covers online, I would be more inclined to buy the first one and skip over the second without another thought. I think you mentioned you have a FREE promotion for your book coming up - in all honesty, I really believe the first cover would do much better for your book during the free promotion.

I hope you don't mind my butting in - I wish you all the best.