Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Moving along with BLACK DOG —

Got my first email about the cover today — not that there are any rough sketches or anything, but they are starting the initial thinking-about-it phase. Exciting! And nice to be consulted, though I certainly don’t intend to try to shove my non-professional opinion down the artist’s throat, because really, that’s just silly.

Though there mustn’t be a real wolf on the cover. That’s important, because black dogs aren’t wolves and really don’t look like wolves. It’s like putting a dragon on the cover of THE FLOATING ISLANDS, and I was all like: IT MUST HAVE FEATHERS, and the artist wound up just not putting a dragon on the cover, which was FINE, as long as he didn’t try to put on a bat-winged dragon.

I know, I KNOW, the purpose of the cover is to sell the book. That’s what it’s for! So there’s all this marketing stuff to consider. Do we want a girl on the cover? In a sexy, contorted pose? (Maybe to the first; and in my opinion, a decisive No to the second — to me, Natividad is pretty in a girl-next-door way.)

So you see I do have opinions, actually.

But then, to me, it seems like these days Every. Single. Paranormal/UF. Cover. has a girl in a sexy pose with a weapon in her hand and an animal in the background, and they all totally blur together for me. So there’s the question: do you want to signal to readers that this is a paranormal/UF? Or do you want to steer clear of the herd and chance missing readers who are actually looking for paranormal/UF? It’s even harder when you consider that BLACK DOG both is and is not a paranormal/UF title.

I mean, there is some romance, but it is not really front-and-center the way you expect in paranormal romance. It’s maybe more UF, except not urban. (Rural fantasy?) So it’s not clear what signals to try to send.

Plus these days a cover really has to look okay as a thumbnail on Amazon and wherever.

You know what I personally really like in a cover, though?

Landscape. Like, check this one out:

I just did a search for paranormal covers and this one jumped out at me — nearly all the rest had the girl taking up like 80 percent of the cover, usually in a sexy or bring-it kind of pose, all the elements that are so typical these days. This one is more interesting to me because it both sets the characters in the scene and evokes the title.

And I like a more artistic cover, too, like this one:

Which of course I mentioned to my Strange Chemistry editor. I can’t even tell you how much I’m looking forward to seeing what the artists and cover designers come up with!

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