Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Evolution of a book cover: The Hall of the Wood

Everyone knows that a quality book cover is important. It's all too easy to tell the professional from the non-professional. While a "good" book cover isn't necessarily indicative of the quality within, it's at least a good starting point.

When I was first getting ready to self-publish my own novels, I explored the different options. Those options were:

  1. Don't use a cover
  2. Make my own
  3. Commission a professional

Ultimately, I decided to create my own cover. I think it's safe to say sales of The Hall of the Wood were not stellar. In some months, they were non-existent (more on sales in a near future post). Then, late last year, I decided to look into the possibility of option #3. I made inquiries with some artists who had their work showcased on, and quickly came to the conclusion that having a professionally done cover is not cheap. That's not to say prices were unreasonable, but the return on investment given my sales up to that point just wasn't there. I'd about given up when I came across a wonderfully perfect illustration by Simon Schmidt. A quick inquiry and some price discussion later and Simon had himself some money out of the blue and I had the illustration I should have used from the start.

This, then, is the new cover for The Hall of the Wood:

HOTW cover 1.0.7 - reduced

What you are looking at in the background is, of course, the Hall. It's uncanny how well this illustration fits the novel. It's got all the elements: forest, patroller's keep, a certain dreariness as if a gloom has settled on the woods. There's even a hint of age with the vine-covered pillar in the forefront.

The new cover went live on Amazon and other retailers at the beginning of December. About the same time, due to some price reductions I made at other retailers, Amazon dropped the price down to $0.00. The unfortunate thing is I can't tell at this point if it was the book cover or the price that caused sales (downloads, really) to soar. At its peak, The Hall of the Wood was getting 150 downloads per day (rough figure; I'm going to post exact numbers in a near future post).

It will be interesting to see how the book sells moving forward. It's no longer free, but it's gotten plenty of recommendations and a couple of reviews. Most important, perhaps, it's showing up on other novels' "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" lists.

I'll leave you with a look at the previous covers cooked up by yours truly. They're not much to look at, and perhaps a reminder why people like me should leave the artwork to the professionals.

hotw 200x300-old hotw-200x300 HOTW cover