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Learning Curve cover, take 2, (and a free book)

August 30, 2013

Soooo the saga of the cover for this book…

When I wrote Life Lessons, MLR press knew there was one sequel coming, if the first book sold well enough to release the second. The artist picked a couple of cover guys – a Tony who was perfect and a Mac who wasn’t even close. (Polished, waxed and grinning, with a gold chain – just, nope.) But she heard my comments and looked around, and changed the “Mac” to this cool angled shot of a guy who looked a bit scruffy, but solemn, and had the right feel. I loved that first cover.

And after two books, I thought the series was done. But no. The guys had more to say. By the time we hit this fourth book, Learning Curve, we were running up against the limit of plausible pictures for “Mac.” Not that he doesn’t have a gazillion stock picks, just that most of them are either ridiculous like this or so different looking you have to check the credits to believe it’s the same guy, like these, okay, and also ridiculous, or all smiley. Some were possible… but. After looking at this guy’s stuff through a long evening, the artist and I were both irritated with him, and when the artist said, “How about another guy who looks like him?”, I said, “Why not?” So we did that, and around 1 a.m. decided we were done. And I liked that cover, objectively. It’s pretty.

But when I posted it, people immediately were recognizing it wasn’t “Mac”. And what’s more, Tony was bitching in my head. Now, that’s a downside to being a writer. Well an upside and a downside – the guys feel real and they talk to me. A lot in some cases. (Tony Hart, I’m looking at you.) Tony didn’t like being on the cover with a new guy – it felt like I was making him cheat on Mac. It was uncomfortable, no matter how pretty the cover was. Not that Tony could get Mac to pose for a freaking usable picture for me, but that didn’t keep him from complaining.

So the artist and I went back to the “Mac” pictures, looking for one that might slot into the same cover, and look OK. Again. And nothing was perfect, but some were possible, and in the end we picked one. It’s the right man, despite the different look: Mac cleaned up and dressing up, which happens a couple of times in the book. And something about the expression appealed to me – I imagine their eyes meeting in the mirror this way.

New Learning Curve cover

Some people will like the other one better, despite the switch. Some will find some other stock picture of this guy more convincing. (You have no idea how many I played with and debated over. Indecisiveness is my middle name.) But this is it. Hopefully most folks will like it, and at least Tony isn’t waking me up in the night to bitch about it.

You can sign up to win a copy of Learning Curve on the giveaway at Stumbling Over Chaos. Good luck. I hope you all enjoy the book. It’s having final proofing now, and looks like it should release on schedule on the 6th. It will be available first from MLR Press directly, then Amazon shortly after, and gradually the other retail sites. And now, I need to go have fun writing the next thing. A writer’s life is good 🙂

15 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2013 11:45 am

    Thanks for the mention! 🙂

  2. Isa permalink
    August 30, 2013 6:16 pm

    Thanks for explaining that. I can’t imagine having to match a character to a real face. Also thanks for the giveaway.

    • August 31, 2013 9:57 am

      Covers are an interesting process, but I don’t like headless torsos much, and the artists I’ve had seem to pick layouts with faces. It can be a challenge to find a good fit on the stock sites.

      • Sarian permalink
        August 31, 2013 8:59 pm

        Thank you so much for taking fans’ feedback into account and changing the dude on the cover. I really appreciate it. . It may not be the original Mac, but at least it’s an upgrade and he looks like he can take care of business. Looking forward to the ebook AND the print cause I’m so getting both as well as any upcoming books in the Wolves series. Also, I know this is a weird question, but is there any chance you would consider Nor Iron Bars a Cage be put in print. I would like to buy one for my shelf. Thanks again. You’re totally awesome. 😎

      • August 31, 2013 10:08 pm

        I’m glad it works better for you – it is the original Mac, just in his cleaned-up version. He looks so different in all his pictures. Anyway, this is it and the book is headed to come out on schedule on Friday.

        As for Nor Iron Bars – I don’t know how much effort it would take to do that in print. There are some places that will produce print versions of self-pub books, I know, but I’ve never done it. I might look into it – I’ve had print requests for Into Deep Waters too. I’d have to charge for them, which I don’t like to do for freebies, but I’m not ruling it out completely.

  3. Nic permalink
    September 2, 2013 12:37 am

    I didn’t want to say anything, but the other cover just didn’t look right with the different Mac. That’s so much better.

    Roll on Friday!

    • September 2, 2013 11:10 pm

      I’m glad you like this one better 🙂

      • Nic permalink
        September 4, 2013 2:15 am

        It looks brilliant – I love the expression on Tony’s face especially.

        And I have no plans for the weekend since my usual Saturday brunch buddy has her boyfriend visiting and since what will hopefully be the last cold front of winter is due to hit, so it’s going to be the perfect weekend to cuddle up on the couch with Learning Curve. Or at least as much as one can cuddle up to a laptop or a Kindle….

      • September 4, 2013 7:45 am

        Paper books are cuddlier, but there’s a lot to be said for ebooks too (mainly being able to carry 300 books around with me.) I hope you enjoy it.

  4. Sarian permalink
    September 3, 2013 9:17 pm

    Oh, then the cover is awesome since it’s the original Mac. A million big thanks for bringing him back. Now the front cover matches the story inside. I’m really psyched up for Friday’s debut.

    You’re right. It’s not feasible to print a free ebook. It’s just that all of your stories are so good that even though I have them as ebooks. I would still like print versions because print’s forever and ebook are not. Your stories should all be in print so your fans can have it in their collections. Perhaps when you have enough back stock of stories that you can kiss you full-time job good-bye and write full time. 8-)You would be able to do a collection of your free ebooks into print so we can buy it. Anyway, just a suggestion. Again thanks so much.

    • September 4, 2013 12:05 am

      Something to think about anyway. I do like paper books too – ebooks are wonderfully compact, but they do feel a bit ephemeral. I have a shelf full of my own favorite M/M. I’m glad you enjoy mine enough to want them in paper. Maybe I could just charge whatever the cost of production is… When life is a bit less crazy I might check it out. The covers for Into Deep Waters and Nor Iron Bars a Cage deserve to be printed.

  5. September 4, 2013 7:06 am

    I love everything about this post, especially Tony bitching at you. (They do that, don’t they, these characters we invent?)

    I don’t know about Mac, but if Tony were to change….It’s become a game to me to find him in other places – always, always identified as Tony, of course.

    • September 4, 2013 7:41 am

      They do 😉 And I would never change Tony – he looks just like I imagine him. Mac was more nebulous, because the earlier pictures are at an angle and unclear, but Tony is set. (He does show up a lot of places – I love that you think of him as Tony regardless 🙂 )

  6. PandaBee permalink
    September 9, 2013 3:53 am

    I liked the other photo more. He may not be Mac from the previous books, but he looks more like Mac than this guy does in this pose. Mac’s supposed to be all alpha male and tough, but this guy looks really doofy and young… too young. If you hadn’t told me this was the same model that was used in the previous books, I would have thought this was a different guy. You should’ve kept with the other cover, imo.

    Tony is perfect though. Exactly as I imagined him.

    • September 9, 2013 9:05 am

      Yeah, I couldn’t make it work perfectly with what was available. But this way at least Tony quit complaining.

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