I decided to survey the readers and authors in Books Go Social, the writers´ group I belong to. I sent the following text and the above photos.
Mirna has designed three covers for my novel. Please help me choose the right one.
Betrayed, facing a crumbling marriage, Moira abandons husband, career and home in Sydney, Australia to live in a West Sussex village to follow her new passion for art. She discovers London, theatre and art life, ghosts and romance."
The response was awesome. Well over a hundred people replied with their choice and some added perceptive comments as well. The majority liked the glamour, opulence and mystery of the first image. Many suggested quite appropriately that the stairs were symbolic of Moira´s steps into her new life. Those who claimed to have experience in covers/design opted for the third image saying the first two covers were too busy with too much detail. Three suggested looking for other images. I felt somewhat uneasy.
One comment stood out. "The cover does not have to fit the plot, it has to fit the reading experience that the reader expects to have based on the cover." I pondered on that for several days.
Another writer, who happens to be a historian as well. described the first cover presented a Renaissance/palatial image, the second was cosy and the third was intriguing.
I spent several days getting back to people´s comments. I realised I couldn´t continue looking for another image ad infinitum so it was time to reassess the summary of the book.
In one sense, the sophisticated, financially comfortable lifestyle of the first image represented the life Moira was leaving behind in Sydney. She was an executive teacher with plenty of money to spend on cultural activities.. The second image suggested English country living. It would equally do for village life but she had been an international air hostess many years previously and her love of foreign cultures had not changed. The third one suggested uncertainty and darkness.
It took me three more days of studying the images and pondering on the essence of the book to realise that my "summary" wasn't quite accurate." London theatre and art life, ghosts and romance" suits image 1. But the reality was that Moira had left behind the glamorous lifestyle in Sydney. Now she had to scrape and struggle to enjoy some semblance of cultural life in London or wait to be invited. She didn't live in London. She had to access it by train. She had replaced her spacious apartment in Sydney with a single room, kitchenette and mini bathroom. At times she felt that life was an uphill struggle. Art, traditional art, symbolised by the frame, was the only certainty in her life. She had brought her art materials with her. Art was free.
The third image portrays her poise, grace and elegance as one person put it. Moira hasn´t lost her sophistication or her love of cultural life but life is basic and simple. She stands alone but not without some sexuality. The frame, symbolic of the main theme of art, suggests a luxury Moira might like - but it´s empty. The black colour of the dress absorbs light and is suggestive of the darkness that hangs over some of the story and Moira´s demons of the past. So this was the book cover I chose though I made some changes.
There's a moral to the tale. Make sure you have really thought through the essence of the book before asking people to give an opinion on a book cover!
My "summary" now reads quite differently:
"It´s 1985. The first British mobile phone call has been made and the first Lords´ debate has been televised. What links three women who meet in a small village in west Sussex?
There´s Scarlett, a sexy, dark-haired teacher who had danced in Paris for the Bluebells in her youth but is now a teacher. There is Zara, an art gallery owner, who had escaped the regime in Yugoslavia and now harbours secrets. And there´s Moira, an ex Qantas air hostess, now executive teacher, who faces the infidelity of her husband by abandoning him, her seafront penthouse and settling in England to follow her real passion in life: art.
To buy my non fiction books turn to welcome and click on the appropriate link
MY NEW BOOK COVER BELOW