BEFORE WE GET TO THE SNIPPET tomorrow, I want to invite you — AND THAT INCLUES YOU LOT ON FACEBOOK — to take shots at the cover for The High T Shebang. I’m concerned that it may have been a major cause of my poor sales over the past ten months. (And a deep thank you to all who DID buy the book, never forget that.) As I may be participating in a REDUCED PRICE SALE over Labor Day, I thought to devote some time this weekend to making an attempt at improving the cover image.
First, let me tell you about the book and explain the choices I have made. The story centers around two parallel plots. The overt plot is that a team of special operations types are dispatched to New Zealand to corral some escaped experimental clones. The why and wherefore are explained in the book, but not relevant to the cover. The not-quite-subtextual plot is that our lead characters, who are newly involved in a sexual relationship, are engaging — they suspect — in intercourse a good deal more frequently than normal. The reason for this, they discover over the course of the story, is that they have been covertly dosed with hormones — including testosterone — to increase their sex drives, for reasons yet to be adduced. That is part of the wider, multi-volume story arc, though clues have been laid and foreshadowing shadowed to the fore.
The elements of the design, therefore are to exply (If by implying, you make something implicit, to make something explicit, you exply it — that’s Dollish.) these elements of the story. The battle takes place over a large family compound on a peninsula between a river estuary and the Pacific Ocean on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Thus the map in the background. One of the hormones used to dose the leads is testosterone, thus the hexagon motif and the model of a testosterone molecule and the High-T in the title. The silhouette of the lead character firing a pistol in a comic-book action pose refers to the climax of the story, and is the one element with which I am the least satisfied. The two arm-ring tattoos down the left and right margins of the cover refer to the two cultures in contact (albeit slightly) in the novel — the Maori thorn tattoo on the left refers to the native culture of New Zealand, to which some of the secondary characters are connected, and the Greek arabesque down the right side refers to the fact that the secret society to which the leads belong is classic Greek in origin. The row of identical blondes in fake camo and shouldering improbable M-16s refer to the climactic battle in which blonde clones of black-and-white-era Hollywood starlets (a touch of silliness, if you ask me) are teleported onto the aforementioned peninsula in an attack on our leads and their friends.
All very abstract, but maybe a bit too literal. I dunno.
So: there it is. Tell me what’s wrong. The stated genre is contemporary urban fantasy, sub-genre myth/gods and goddesses. Possibly more apply. I’m intended to fix that and the blurb while I’m at this new cover. I shall also have to come up with some art for the back cover for the paper edition, which I am hopeful of being able to have available by Labor Day weekend. But that can be an abstract wallpaper design, if I like, as it needs to serve as a bed for the blurb and other back cover matter. I’d like to have an iconic bust of Dolly (the female lead) to use on the spine of all books about her. But that’s going to take a lot of work and a quantum improvement in my digital painting skills.
I’m not at all unhappy with the visibility of the art at small size. I just wonder if the cover telegraphs enough about the story to intrigue people into trying it, and whether it telegraphs the right things about genre, etc.
Please comment here or on Facebook.
Update: The discussion happened over on Farcebook. If I didn’t hate FB so much, I’d shutter this blog (BabyTrollBlog is already a ghost town because: lazy). I made some mods to the design — et, violas — based on the input. It’s not complete, but I’m pleased with the improvement. So far. There’s more I want to do, but this is a quantum leap from my perspective.
Then, Saturday night, I was watching a movie (Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, thank you for asking), when my tablet — which sits on the arm of the couch — bleeped to announce an arriving email. From Jaime. The Alpha reader. With embedded permission to post here. Which I am doing, as a faux comment. With my reply. As soon as I figure out how to bypass the login procedures for attributing posts. I know it can be done, but I’ve forgotten how…