April 18, 2012

titles and covers

So, I came to the conclusion recently that The Chroniker Legacy does not work for the title of my second book. It better fits the third book, as originally planned. Of course, moving it means that I have an untitled book that is slotted for publication in eight-ish months. Naturally, I’m brainstorming for topics, and I’ll tell you—most of them suck.

My original title for The Clockwork Giant was just Chroniker City. A nice plain title. I lucked out when I came up with The Clockwork Giant. It worked on two levels, both referring to the automaton and to Petra. I wanted something similar for the next two books, but alas, my lack of titling savoir faire has led me to this point.

Here are some of my titles I’ve played with for the second book:

The Guild’s War
The Automaton War
The War for Science
The Guild Design
The War for Scientific Progress
A Time for War
The Machine War
The Mechanical War

And so on so forth. They’re all pretty god-awful. However, in a stroke of semi-brilliance, I thought of another one:

The Guild Conspiracy

It plainly says what the second book is about. It doesn’t have “clockwork” or “Chroniker” in the title (which was a nit-picky requirement of mine). I flows nicely between the other two titles—The Clockwork Giant, The Guild Conspiracy, and The Chroniker Legacy. So I suppose for now, that’s my working title. I’d like a permanent title, you know, since the book is supposed to come out this year. What are your thoughts about The Guild Conspiracy for the title of the second book?

Now, as you know, I’ve been wanting to change the cover for The Clockwork Giant to appeal more to my young adult audience. I love the cover that I have (see sidebar). It’s appealing to the eye and doesn’t break any graphic design rules that I know of. It appeals to my adult audience, I think. That’s fine, but I would like to get more teens reading the book, and the one teen that I know read it was confused by the cover. That’s a pretty big red flag right there. So this weekend, I started working on a new cover. And I’m doing it old school. That’s right. Hand drawn cover art. I’m bold enough to consider myself an artist, even if I only do it as a hobby, and with the encouragement of a friend, I decided to give it a try. I started with a sketch, first drawing the automaton, then the background elements, and then the protagonists. It’s just a pencil sketch still, but here that is:

I plan on scanning it properly (that picture is taken with my phone), and then I’ll ink it. Once I’ve inked it, I’ll remove the pencil marks, scan it once more, and then start coloring. Once it's finished, I'll upload it to my computer and digitally add the title, a few gears, and my name. Though the picture is rather simple, I think that once it’s colored, with proper shading and all, it would make a pretty fantastic cover. And if not, it can just be a fine piece of artwork. That would also mean that I’m back to square one as far as redoing the cover goes, but whatever. I like drawing, and I’m okay with wasting a few hours on a piece of art.

Now, as much as people quote that you can’t judge a book by its cover. You so can. I do. I know you do. That’s why covers are so important, especially for self-published authors. You want a professional looking cover that can compete with traditional bestsellers. The same goes with titles. If you’re anything like me, when I browse for new books to read, first I look at the cover. If it catches my eye, I then look at the title. The cover and title combined should give me a good gist of what the book is actually about, or what genre it fits in. If I think that’s something I might be interested in, I take a peep at the summary. And if that interests me, the book goes on my TBR list.

Here are a few covers and titles that drew my eye when I was making my 2012 TBR list. I have yet to read any of these, by the way. Still making my way through the books I already own.


Each of these books has a great title (in my opinion), and cover art to match. They piqued my interest and made me wonder what the book was about. That is what a cover is supposed to do.

I have had several people tell me that they bought The Clockwork Giant based on the cover alone. And you don’t know how happy that makes me. The cover has been repinned on Pinterest to boards boasting awesome graphic design, and it’s an honor being included there. However, that cover isn’t marketing to the right audience. It’s grabbing established steampunk fans, generally adults. I want teens to read it. As much as I love that adults are reading it and loving it, they aren’t my target audience.

I want to remedy that.

What do you think of the new cover design sketch? and how does The Guild Conspiracy sound for a second book title?

What are some of your favorite book covers? 


  1. I haven't been able to get Cinder out of my head (the cover) for awhile. I'm also a fan of the The Marbury Lens. The Birthmarked series does the "abstract" covers really well.

    If you really wanted to include Chroniker in the title, you could always do The Chroniker Conspiracy.

    But I think The Guild Conspiracy works really well with your three titles.

  2. I think your illustration is lovely. I particularly like your treatment of the mechanical objects. In all honesty, though, I think hiring a professional illustrator would be the best choice. Until my work was up to par with Throne of the Crescent Moon up there, I would be very wary of illustrating my own cover.

    Another choice would be commissioning an artist online, which really isn't too expensive at all. There are a lot of artists on etsy and deviantart willing to do gorgeous cover commissions. As an artist, I think it's much easier to be objective with another person's art than my own, and objectivity will help you give a professional looking presentation.

    Are any of these covers you listed self-published? I think this is my favorite self-published cover ever: http://www.amazon.com/Gods-War-Kameron-Hurley/dp/159780214X/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1291747660&sr=8-4

    1. yeah, i would like to hire a professional artist, but i don't know that it's in my budget right now. that might be something i do down the line.

      i'm still going to finish the piece since i think it will be a nice art piece, but probably not going to do a cover out of it. i think i found a way to do a cover using public domain images and my graphic design skills.

      none of the images i posted are self published, but i only just went through my TBR list on Goodreads and picked out the ones i knew were put there based on the covers and titles.

      the cover you listed is a fantastic self published cover.

  3. Your illustration seems cool. I wonder if there would be a way to do something along the lines of focusing more on the automaton itself and show a reflection of the protagonists in the armor? Not sure why that came to my head but just a thought.

    I've started to get a little tired of the girl in the gown covers. There are so many that I've found myself needing to see something else unique about the cover, like for The Selection. Gown? Yes, but reflected in different mirrors with different positions. I also like 172 hours. It has a marble black eye with a reflection of the moon in it. I've contemplated something similar for my WiP if I decided to go the Indie route with it. Hey, that cover may be the reason I wondered if you could do the reflection in the armor. I also like the Possession cover. Very simple and symbolic to perfection.

    As for the title, I love The Guild Conspiracy. There's probably already The Clockwork Conspiracy out there and that probably doesn't sound as well as The Guild Conspiracy.

    Either way, I look forward to your results as I'm eager to get my hands on our next installment of your work.

    1. my friend and i were at B&N last night, and we were lamenting the number of YA covers with girls in dresses, or the partial face cover. the reason i like the cover for _Grave Mercy_ is because she's toting a crossbow while wearing a fancy dress.

      your idea for a cover sounds neat, but i don't think i have the talent to do that :) i have no doubt it would look pretty sweet, though it kind of makes me think it would make a good manga cover. /shrug

  4. I like The Guild Conspiracy for a title. It sounds good. :) I like the current cover, and the mock-ups you posted to Twitter. Clean lines, iconic, certainly deserving of the Pinterest attention. But I think you're right that it's not quite YA enough. The art in this post is nice, but I'm kind of worried it might be too busy. The other-people's-covers you posted have more of a focus on person, rather than scene, and that's what a lot of YA seems to do these days too. Perhaps drawings of Petra in semi-close-up doing awesome things? Or her and Emmerich, again in relative close-up? But you may be on the right track with the building scene, I don't know. I'll be interesting in seeing it in its final form. :)

    1. i'm probably just going to stick with the covers i posted to twitter, after a little tweaking of the third, and just turn the drawing into a nice little piece of artwork. maybe someday i can hire someone to draw it for me ;)