by Barb, happily typing this in Boothbay Harbor, Maine
On Monday, I did the cover reveal for the sixth Maine Clambake Mystery, Stowed Away, over on the Wicked Cozy Authors blog.
I’m very happy with the cover, which incorporates many story elements, including the yacht, the sumptuous dinner, and the lobster with an engagement ring in his claw.
In general, I’ve had great covers for the Maine Clambake Mysteries. So far, they have all been done by artist Ben Perini. I describe the way my editor and I work together on the covers here.
One of the criticisms you hear about traditional publishing is, “you don’t control your covers!” And for me that is true. My editor always asks for my input, but the final decision is Kensington’s.
When I managed young engineers, there would always be the meeting where I would have to say to one of them, “Just because you are very, very smart at one thing, does not mean you are smart at everything.” Meaning–maybe your ideas on marketing aren’t so great, (though that would never occur to you) and maybe you should let the people who have actual expertise in that area do the job.
For me, it’s the same with my covers. The two I have liked the least have actually sold the most books.
I was new to writing a Maine series and I didn’t want people to think I had never been to a Maine clambake. But, despite my reservations, this book took off. My agent called it, “The best launch I would have hoped for.”
I loved the next three covers for Boiled Over, Musseled Out, and Fogged Inn. But I was worried when the second book sold less than the first, and the third sold less than the second. But finally, with the fourth book, Fogged Inn, sales bounced back.
Aren’t these covers great? I love the motif of the little lobster boat that appears in all of them.
But then, after making several brilliant suggestions and offering up this Pinterest board, I got the cover for Iced Under. I was so disappointed. To me, it looked like a generic suburban street, no feel of my little Maine town, no harbor. It was the first time they hadn’t implemented any of my suggestions.
I understood why they chose to do the view from the inside looking out. You want the reader of a cozy to feel cozy. And there was a little ice in the background.
Then, you guessed it, the sales of this fifth book in the series were the strongest, at least initially, since the first.
Proving that, much as it pains me to say it, maybe I don’t know everything, after all.