Sunday, February 21, 2016

Covering Cover Matters

A day last summer I was surfing the web to see if my first book, Dex Territory, was getting any love. I came upon a website that “helps” authors by pointing out bad book covers and embarrasses them in 
hopes they will be so grateful the author will use them to create a new cover. I published through a small press and while I had input into the cover, I didn’t have control. Yet, my editor hit me up and suggested I wasn’t marketing well. My sales weren’t so great. I work in the business world and I have built strong networks and as an author I was getting there with steady progress. I felt I had a good book. It was well reviewed, technically sound, the story was fun and superheroes were red hot. I had a unique angle and it’s a fast-paced book that’s not difficult to polish off. I have strong characters, it’s sexy and action-packed and it’s packed with snappy, snark-filled dialog and the book was very funny. The thing practically sold itself. My editor and I believed in Dex Territory even with the bug-nuts crazy title.
I reached out to a cover artist, Laura Hildago, and asked her to rework the cover for me. In the meantime, I approached my publisher and explained what I found, we talked about the weak sales and told him, I’d spring for a cover and we really had nothing to lose. Laura whipped up an amazing cover concept and after some back and forth between three uncompromising, prideful, creative people; we removed the old cover, we added the new spiffy cover, I began a new anxiety med prescription and re-released the book with minimal fanfare. We all were curious to see what would happen.

Book sales spiked, which we all expected, but the true indicator was ongoing sales. I’m happy to say, 
they remained steady for months. My reviews jumped and we quickly redesigned the cover for Knight and Dex to fit the same style before its release. It quickly followed suit of book 1 and became my publisher’s best-selling book for two months after its release. As much as we’re always told to never judge a book by its cover, I can personally attest; it’s not true at all. Covers matter. My advice to indie authors, get a professionally made cover. The cost is around $150.00, your mileage may vary. A good artist will give you a few different looks and feel free to give them feedback. It should feel like a collaboration and you should both be satisfied with the results.

Knight and Dex


Snow settled over New London and covered the alley with a chilly blanket, which normally gave me a moment’s pause to reflect. I might have thought about tranquility, but there was nothing tranquil in the roundhouse kick I took to the face. Steam rose from crimson splatter as my blood hit the freshly fallen snow.

Minx’s claws flashed. I jumped back and narrowly avoided being torn open at the belly.

It was difficult to wax poetic while someone was doing their best to kill me.

Welcome to my life.

I swung my left fist. My intention wasn’t to connect with Minx’s jaw but to buy a precious second. The parry worked well enough and gave me the moment I needed to draw the pulse pistol from under my coat. I bellowed a triumphant, “Ha!”

My moment of glory was short-lived. Another kick connected with my right hand. The blow jarred the weapon loose and it sailed into a snow bank. Powdery snow swallowed it whole. The thing about being unarmed, it felt a bit like being naked in a crowd. No way to cover my ass.

I gripped my stinging hand. “Shit.”

A powerful arm, furry and itchy and stiff as a crowbar, hooked me around the neck. Minx had gotten behind me, and the momentum of her attack tore my feet from the ground. I cartwheeled, forcing her to detach and spring back, but I landed face-down in a heap. The snow with all its apparent fluffiness did nothing to cushion my fall. The impact rattled my bones and lights danced across my vision, swirling in loopy rings.

All I needed was another concussion.

Strong hands grabbed me by the collar and belt. My stomach lurched as I was torn from the relative comfort of the ground and flipped onto my back like a flapjack. Minx pounced on top of me and pinned my arms to my sides with her powerful thighs. Normally, I approved of such positions, but she wasn’t Pink Panther and this wasn’t foreplay. I feared she would crunch me like a walnut in a nutcracker. I gasped for precious air.

To any observer it would appear as if I were unprepared for this fight. That observer would have been correct. I’d seen her running down the sidewalk and duck into this alley. She was up to something and I’d interrupted her. Evidence suggested it was something she didn’t want the cops to know about. While my intent was to have a friendly chat with her, she’d decided to take our exchange in a different direction.

Minx had a reputation in underworld circles as an effective messenger. Our not-so-cozy encounter fell within the realm of her typical delivery method. While I didn’t feel like she took sadistic glee in her work, I thought she took pride in a job well done. I, on the other hand, found the work environment hostile, and already I was drawing up a complaint to her HR department.

Purchase Mark Aberdeen’s Dex Territory Series 

Follow Mark Aberdeen


Many thanks to Rave Reviews Book Club for this opportunity to host this blog tour for RRBC Spotlight Author, Mark Aberdeen and also to Marlena Smith, Rave Waves show host. Follow the hashtag #RRBC on social media to stay updated with the buzz.


  1. I appreciate learning about your experience with covers, Mark. A great cover will surely make a difference. Loved the excerpt - looks like a great read! Thanks for hosting Mark today, Priya!

  2. Great post, Mark! I am really looking forward to your tour!
    Thank you for hosting, Priya!

  3. Liked the idea of revampting a book and it works. Congrats. Thanks Priya for hosting.

  4. Covers are tricky business and it was a well-learned lesson. I'm happy to share the experience and perhaps save someone from watching their hard work end up in obscurity.

    Thank you so much, Priya for hosting me and putting up my blog. Thanks everyone who stopped by to check out Priya's page. It's beautiful and she's been incredibly kind to me.

    1. Thanks a lot Mark, for sharing your experience with me on my blog for all the writers and aspiring writers out there to learn from. Wish you the best with the Dex Territory Series. :)

    2. It was an absolute pleasure, Priya! Maybe others can learn from my many missteps. There's a lot to navigate in the publishing world, it can be overwhelming and if you're like me and excited over the prospects, it's easy to get sidetracked.

      Thanks again, Priya it's always a pleasure to talk to you!

  5. Congrats on your "SPOTLIGHT" Tour, Mark!! Excited to see what's next!

    Thank you so much for hosting, Priya!! :)


  6. Great post! Covers are important, they are the first thing to catch the reader's eye. The most important thing is that your cover represents your genre. I learned that lesson the hard way with my first book. Thanks for hosting, Priya.

  7. You can always tell when the cover art doesn't match the book's ethos - as the author you owe it to yourself to make sure the cover shouts out the spirit of your creation :-) Thanks for hosting Mark's great post, Priya :-D

  8. Covers are important. I'm a DIY cover artist. I have studied graphic and Web design. I wouldn't recommend everyone doing it. There has been one exception (won't mention names). I don't think her covers are very good but she has made a lot of sales on her series. Have fun on your tour.

    1. Thanks Kim, I checked out your covers. They're excellent! You have a great eye.

  9. Hello Mark. After discovering that you are on a Spotlight Tour, I scrambled to find my copy of your book. I'm so far behind in reading so this stop has me focused back on it. Congratulations and will see you at your next stop.

  10. In this world where there are so many books to choose from, people do make their first choice by what's on the cover. It tells us what's possibly inside. If you like romance, you're going for the 6 pack abs and half naked women. ;)

    Great excerpt!

  11. Great comments about books covers! Thank you initiating this conversation, Mark; and, congrats on the Spotlight!

  12. I am also a cover designer, and while yes, changing the cover can work in some cases, sometimes it does not. We've changed a couple of covers on our books and although it may have increased sales in the short term, we have not experienced long term growth. Of course marketing is involved in this as well.
    I also want to caution about using popular "stock photos" in your covers. I mistakenly used a very popular stock photo in my short story cover only to have it ripped to shreds by a reviewer. So, I was forced to redesign the cover since I didn't want to look like other books. All a learning experience.
    How do you know if it's a popular image? Go to and put in the URL for the image you are thinking of using. Usually, if it's a popular image, Google will find other books with the same image use.

    1. Oh thanks a lot for pitching in your opinion and sharing your learning experience as a cover designer, Jo. :) And you gave such a useful tip. It's going to help me too as I use stock images for my blog.

    2. I did notice that another book used the same image as the stock photo used on Knight and Dex. It was unaltered, but disappointing to see. It doesn't look like it's hurt my sales, but I have very specific covers in mind for my future books and my current artist only uses stock photos. I need to look elsewhere.