Keith Robinson is the author of various fantasy and sci-fi series suitable for all ages. He is best known for the popular Island of Fog series. He publishes 3-4 books a year, most recently Sinister Roots (Island of Fog Legacies #2) in August 2016. He is currently working on Book 3 of the same series, due for release around Christmas 2016.

Working on a new book cover for Sleep Writer

Posted on October 24, 2016 (Subscribe to Blog)

I've come to the conclusion that my cover for Sleep Writer (Book 1) is not sci-fi enough. This may be obvious to any halfway decent professional cover designer, but I'm not a professional; I'm still learning as I go. So at the moment I'm attempting make the cover jump out a bit more to potential readers who might otherwise skim past it.

Before I get into that, a quick welcome to all new subscribers in the last couple of weeks. I hope you enjoy your freebie book, Fractured. Let me know if you have any trouble downloading it or putting it on your device. I'm happy to help!

Right, to business. Sleep Writer has been knocking about on Amazon, Nook, Apple, and Kobo for two years now, and I'd hoped to see a little more movement in sales. It's kind of slow. In the back of my mind, I've had this notion that the cover just doesn't jump out. It may be intriguing to some, but I think it's missing the mark in terms of my target audience – young readers who love aliens and space stories as well as wormholes and time travel.

Sleep Writer

One reviewer, though he liked the book in the end, started out saying:

I should really start reading the synopsis of books before I actually read the book. I thought this would be a paranormal/ghost story, but we are quickly introduced to aliens...

Now, Sleep Writer does have elements of the paranormal... until the reader discovers it's not really paranormal at all. In case you don't know, Madison (the sleep writer) has a tendency to write messages to herself in her sleep, and these messages point to surprisingly regular clandestine alien visitations. So while it seems Madison has a ghostly spirit manipulating her, it's actually more sci-fi-y than that. But the title and cover don't scream "Aliens! Spaceships! Wormholes! Time travel!"

So what to do? I thought about altering the title. Currently, the three published books in this series are:

Sleep Writer (Book 1)
Robot Blood (Sleep Writer Book 2)
Caleb's World (Sleep Writer Book 3)

Since "Sleep Writer" doesn't jump out as sci-fi, what if I altered it? Here's a bad example to give you an idea:

Alien Wormholes (Sleep Writer Book 1)
Robot Blood (Sleep Writer Book 2)
Caleb's World (Sleep Writer Book 3)

See? It immediately clues readers in.

I can change the ebook title without a problem. Amazon, Nook, Apple, and Kobo allow such things. But print editions are another matter. Typically, the title is locked to a specific ISBN. I can't change the title without starting over, which means there'd be an out-of-print title knocking about forever in addition to the new title. I don't want that.

So I'm stuck with the title as it is. Okay, so I just need to change the cover art, right? Make it more sci-fi? How about something like this mockup, with a different font to appeal to younger readers?

I like the idea of depicting Liam being sucked into a wormhole, a pivotal scene in the book, but now the title "Sleep Writer" doesn't fit the picture. So I thought I'd try adding Madison, the sleep writer herself:

I think this works. Do you? Here's how it would look across all three published books along with the fourth due next year:

Okay, so at this point I was fairly happy. I got an opinion from someone, and he liked it. Of course, I'd prefer a bunch of opinions just to be sure, hence this post.

Then I started wondering what it would look like with the main cover art and the sleep writer bit switched like this:

I kind of like the second one better, but I'm not sure. It seems a little better balanced. Thoughts? It's okay to say you hate it or make other suggestions. But my purpose is to appeal to sci-fi readers aged 9-12. Remember, anyone browsing Amazon for new books only gives a nanosecond to each thumbnail on the page, so it has to stand out.

So, an overall summary...

Opinions? Should I choose New #1 or New #2, or stay with the original, or try something completely different?

Comment by MICHAEL BARRINGTON on Tuesday, October 25, 2016...

In general, I like the image where she's sleeping at the bottom of the picture better. Putting the 'sleeping' image at the bottom also implies the image above may be in someway connected to dreams or dreaming. I'll admit, I've not read the books, so I'm not sure how well that implications matches the actual stories.

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