Monday, December 02, 2013

New ANGELS Cover

In recent discussions with my publishers about what we could do to attract new readers to the Sebastian St. Cyr series, I raised the possibility of redoing some of the previous covers that I've always felt sent the wrong message about the books, beginning with the totally inappropriate cover of What Remains of Heaven. I thought it would be great if we could move toward a more uniform look for the series, using the cover of Why Kings Confess as a model. To my amazement, they agreed.

Then they told me they had decided to begin with the cover What Angels Fear.

"But--but--but," I said. "What about redoing What Remains of Heaven? I love the cover of What Angels Fear!" Yes, I was told; the Angels cover was nice, but they want to do a promotion using the first book in the series, and promotions are most successful when there is something new about a book, so they want to redo that one. Sigh.

What's amazing is how fast they can produce a cover when they want to; the prototype landed in my email inbox just days later. It's now gone live on Amazon (thanks to Sabena for the tip; no one told me!), so I asked for the final version of the file, and here it is:

I still love the original version. And I must say I don't particularly like this model's looks. But  everyone at NAL is excited about the new cover and I do agree that it is very striking. So what do you think?


Helena said...

I can see what you mean about the mode's looks, but I think that overall it's a good cover. It has the right atmosphere. It makes it clear that it's not actually about angels!

It's a very good sign that the publishers are prepared to go to this much trouble, and act quickly.

LOgalinOR said...

I love everything about the cover.......except that face of the male figure. The cover itself is very eye-catching, dramatic and mysterious (even including the angel wings in the background). But that expression and look just doesn't conform with my image of our beloved Sebastian. A kinder, more gentle, and thoughtful visage would have been perfect! I guess you can't have it all-LOL. Do you know if they will be using that same face/figure in any of the other covers?(BTW, I still think you should have the final say in these matters!)
So Candice, imagine sometime down the road in the future, there could be two camps of readers 'discussing' what Sebastian looks like. All of us, up to now have, I think similar like versions/visions of him. Then this new cover comes out and the newest readers that start reading the Sebastian series (with the latest cover) will have that image of him in their minds. What are your thoughts on that?

cs harris said...

Helena, I never thought about someone misreading the cover with that title, but you are quite right. And yes, it's a wonderful sign that the publishers are excited enough about the series to start redoing the covers.

LOgalinOR, yes, shame about the face. I think it's the chin that offends me the most--Sebastian does NOT have a cleft chin! But the cover is wonderful otherwise. I'm hoping that for the NEXT cover they will use a different model.

lmhess said...

My only objection is seeing Sebastion's face - I like the mystery and intrigue of not knowing what he looks like. He looks like a contemporary man in period clothing. I think he needs to remain anonymous - unless someone turns he into a tv show (potential Masterpiece Mystery?). So I'm with LOgalin. And no offense to your publisher but most of them don't really have a clue about these things. They listen to their PR dept. but if they took a survey of readers I bet they would be surprised at the response. Actually, the old cover was just fine...okay, I'll shut up now.:)

Lily said...

I like the new version very much although I feel the same about the model. If it would be the first book in a new series it wouldn't matter that much by now every reader has a certain image in his or her head of what Sebastian looks like.

I always thought the first cover is too contemporary. Imo it looked like a book by Elizabeth George or Minette Walters. With the new version at least there is no doubt about genre and period.

I know the cover problem not only as reader but also as an author but sadly one time I had no say in the matter. At first they came up with a picture of a beautiful spanish villa and a modern looking woman with red hair and freckles although the historical romance had only about 30 pages that played in spain (460 didn't) and the heroine had dark hair and green eyes. The second and final version played with the part of the story where there was a mask involved hiding some scars from a fire accident. But the pic that made the final cover was a woman hiding behind a venetian carnival mask and hat. You can imagine how thrilled I was (not to mention the story was not set in Italy).

Anonymous said...

c- well I guess I stand alone on this one. I really like this cover and the models face. he reminds of Orlando Bloom for some reason and he looks young - which Sebastian is so I like that as well. I even like it better than the cover and model for Why Kings Confess but everybody is different. I do hope that you are more satisfied with the next one. Best - Ali

Charles Gramlich said...

It looks pretty cool. Definitely fairly creepy.

JustWingingIt said...

I love the idea of getting new covers and getting a more uniform "look" for the series (the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire is one of the best at doing that IMO). Cover models so rarely look like I imagine for myself and this is no exception but the cover as a whole is very nice. My perfect Sebastian is Tom Mison, currently seen on FOX's Sleepy Hollow. -- Veronica

Don't know if this url for Mr. Mison will work...

Elaine P. said...

Overall I like the cover. The background especially is beautiful and mysterious. I like the pose of the figure, but I agree he is not how I picture Sebastian. He actually looked a bit villainous at first, but then I magnified the image and he looks much better. I am also really curious to see what your publishers come up with for the cover of What Remains of Heaven.

Liz said...

I totally agree with you. I love the first cover. The new one seems over dramatic, and I NEVER like seeing artists' renditions of characters; they always take away from the one in my imagination.
I thought about how I'd feel if there were an Amelia Peabody novel with an illustration of the dashing Ramses on the cover, and cringed!

Suzanne said...

I love the new cover. It is so beautifully dark and atmospheric. It would definitely catch my eye as soon as I walk into a bookshop.
The original cover was pretty, but didn't give much idea of what the book was about. Hense it taking me until the release of When Maiden's Mourn to discover your brilliant series.

cs harris said...

Imhess, I'd asked with the KINGS cover that they keep his face in shadow, and I asked it again this time, to no avail. They've obviously done some sort of market study or something that concluded that people like seeing faces. And you're right--publishers are clueless about so many things!

Lily, that's funny, I never saw the first cover as contemporary, but now that you mention it I can see how it might be interpreted that way. This one is certainly unambiguous. And your carnival mask story is so typical of art departments!

Ali, my editor loves this model's face, too; she didn't like the man in the KINGS cover at all, so you're not alone!

Charles, I do think it captures the book's atmosphere much better than the first.

JustWingingIt, I hadn't seen the October Daye series and found them interesting. One problem I see with a more uniform series is that after a while the covers all look the same and make it hard to distinguish one book from the next. I wasn't familiar with Mison; I really don't watch enough TV.

cs harris said...

Elaine, I really, really hope they actually redo What Remains of Heaven. They SAY they are going to, but...

Liz, I think the original cover is more literary, whereas this one goes straight for the pulp fiction look.

Suzanne, that's good to hear, because that's what they're hoping to do--attract new readers.

Essex said...

Hmmm. Not bad, but I guess I would have preferred Sebastian's face being slightly hidden from view or shrouded a bit like you wanted . That would have kept some of the mystery and allowed all of us to maintain our own fantasies of what Sebastian looks like!
It is still a nice cover, though. Makes me wish I bought the actual books as opposed to ebooks! Maybe I will buy the books with the new covers anyway...
March is coming up- am totally stoked at new Sebastian coming up.

Anonymous said...

I prefer the original. The model definitely does not fit my image of Sebastian; way over dramatized.

LinP said...

I agree with all who like the concept and the execution except for the model's face. My first reaction upon seeing it! How odd the publishers do. I also believe the model's head should be down more. Your readers all have their own image of Sebastian. If it is too late for this one, you might be able to use our reactions to influence the next.

cs harris said...

Essex, I'd thought they were only redoing the ebook covers, but I just found out they will actually be reissuing the paperbacks with the new covers, too. I think their target date for this one is March, which is rather strange since that's the release date for Why Kings Confess.

Anon, yes, far more over the top than the KINGS cover.

LinP, perhaps if I send them everyone's comments, they will be more receptive to the idea of putting the face in shadow for the next cover. One can only hope; they certainly don't listen to me!

paz said...

I did like the previous cover better,though clearly this one is much more menacing. Sebastian reminds me of Quentin Tarrantino circa 1980s. Not good or bad; he just looks like him. There is also another actor he is reminding me of, but I can't put my finger on who...

And now, a nerd moment. As a Dr Who fan, the title "What Angels Fear" now will always remind me of the awesomely terrifying "Weeping Angels," ancient beings who take over statues in order to prey on the life force of unsuspecting humans. What does a "Weeping Angel" fear? The eyes of another angel, for this mutual gaze will trap them both in stone for eternity.

Amy said...

I agree that I don't like seeing the model's face- I would prefer the face to reamin a mystery especially since it is the first book and you want readers to form their own idea about the character. I'm interested to see what they come up with for the other covers.

Anonymous said...

I really like the new cover, but I agree they should have left the face turned away, something like the cover for What Darkness Brings. But over all I think it's a great cover- love the menacing atmosphere!

cs harris said...

Paz, I hadn't heard about the Weeping Angles; interesting!

Amy, before the next cover conference I'm going to send them all of these comments, and maybe they'll get the idea we don't want to see the face too clearly?

Anon, I do like the atmosphere. And I REALLY like having my name at the top!

Anonymous said...

I think the model looks rather sinister and where are Sebastian's yellow eyes? But publishers can't be bothered with details.-Lastlap

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