When to Change the Cover or Title of a Book
One of the tricky parts of being an indie author is knowing when to change the cover or title of a book. Of course, the fact that you can make that change fairly easily is a huge plus. Conventional wisdom says that if a book isn’t selling, it’s either the cover, the title, or the story itself.
When to Change the Cover or Title of a Book
Let’s assume that the story and writing are good. That leaves the title and the cover for consideration, and it means you have to take a hard look at something you may love—the title and/or the cover. But remember, if you do nothing, nothing will change. That edict is rarely proven wrong.
I recently went through this and had to make a hard decision on both cover and title. I had a novella in a Prolific Works year-long promotion. Something about the cover and title just never felt right to me. My decision to make changes wasn’t about sales but about my gut. I’m a firm believer in listening to my gut.
I went through the process of change, going straight to my readers for input through a poll in my newsletter and on social media.
I ended up changing both the title and the cover. Now, in a cozy mystery Facebook group I’m part of, many of those readers preferred the original cover. But based on sales since the change, and on my knowledge of the sleuth, the new cover is a better fit. I’m happy with my decision. However, if I change my mind at some point, you know what? I can change it again!
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is, don’t be afraid of change. As an indie author, you have the flexibility to make changes, so evaluate what’s happening with your titles and go for the change if you feel it’s called for.
Here is the process I went through as I made my changes:
Feeling comfortable with the knowledge that the writing was good, I had to look at the title and/or the cover. The book in question is (was) A Pickle of a Murder, which is the first book in the Foxy Ladies Mystery series. It’s a spin-off from the Book Magic series and features Hattie Juniper Pickle as the protagonist, and the Foxy Ladies, which are Hattie and her friends Lemon, Maude, and Cricket.
When it Doesn’t Feel Right
Something about the original cover and title just didn’t do it for me. It didn’t feel quite right. So for me, the decision wasn’t about sales, but I still felt it might be necessary to make the changes. I had to make a decision: Should I or should I not change the cover or title of the book?
As I pondered the decision of whether or not to change the cover or title of the book, I tossed around various ideas, starting with the cover. While I love the cat pictured on the original (Carrot in the book, Buffy in real life as she’s my mom’s actual cat), the rest of it just fell flat for me. Part of it, I think, is that Hattie is such an eccentric character and so full of zest for life. The original cover doesn’t capture any of that.
The next thing to consider about changing the cover or title of the book was the title. A Pickle of a Murder didn’t feel quite right. Sure, it’s a cute play on words since Hattie’s last name is Pickle, but for me, it wasn’t a book I’d pick up in the store. It didn’t grab me. And Hattie definitely wasn’t in the title, either.
The Power of Three
Now, I’m a firm believer in the Power of Three. The human psyche responds to things in threes. I’ll talk more about that some other time. Books with a series of three things in their titles are hugely popular. Look at Diane Kelly’s Death and Taxes series, beginning with Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure. Then there is Tonya Kappes’s Camper series where every book is an alliterative series of three things as in Beaches, Bungalows, and Burglaries.
Deciding on the Title
Finally, I decided that both the title and the cover of the book needed to change. I played around with various titles and even did a poll on Instagram and Facebook. Eventually, I landed on Love, Lies, and Lousy Exes. Hattie, bless her heart, has had several husbands (one of them she married twice!). ‘Lousy Exes‘ really worked for me, ‘Lies’ conveyed a bit of mystery, and ‘Love‘ is what she’s after. It was the fan favorite.
Working on the Cover
When it came to changing the cover, I took more time. As a cover artist (a new arm of the WriterSpark business), I planned on making the cover. I searched image sites and even tried an AI program, but nothing felt right. Nothing screamed: Hattie!
Then I found this image:
I immediately loved it and it felt right.
This was Hattie.
Putting it Together
Having made the decision to change the title and cover of the book, I began playing around on Canva, using different backgrounds, design elements, and fonts. Bit by bit, the entire thing came together and it was…LOVE.
Is it Cozy Enough?
I’ve had some people say that it doesn’t strike them as ‘cozy’ enough–that it’s more rom-com. Maybe, but it certainly captures Hattie’s colorful personality. Plus I created the cute little Foxy Ladies Mystery logo:
Now that I’ve changed both the title and the cover of this book, it’s time to wait. So far, sales are great and my decision feels warranted. If something changes? Well, I can change again.
Deciding whether or not to change the title and/or cover can be a tough decision to make. When you think about it, though, it’s akin to painting a room. If you don’t like the way it turns out, you can redo it. Easy, peasy.
Behold the new cover and title for the first Foxy Ladies Cozy Mystery Series.
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