Admitting you were wrong?
I have a confession: as much as I loved the original covers for the three books in the Grace Bloods series, they never quite fit the series vibe.
At the time, dark fantasy romance wasn’t really A Thing, and I had a hard time finding covers to show the designer that fit what I thought was the mood of the book. I even hunted down the original stock art photo of a dancer that fit what I thought represented godsdancing. I went with a well-regarded professional design company, and the fault isn’t theirs (“It’s like ballet, but it’s not ballet” didn’t get me far when helping them identify the right image) Cover designers rarely, if ever, read the book before they get to work and I wasn’t fully able to articulate what I needed. In short, my art brief stunk!
I pushed hard for what I thought was the right cover for Death’s Dancer and the subsequent books. Unfortunately, as beautiful as it was, it never quite fit.
How did I know?
Readers who were surprised to find their fantasy novel was a romance and delighted by how much worldbuilding and fantasy was in their romance. And don’t get me started on the reaction to the heat level. People loved the book who thought they wouldn’t–on both sides! It wasn’t that the covers lied, exactly. It just didn’t fully set folks up for what was to come.
We say never judge a book by its cover, but we all do it. I’ve been dragged across a store by a cover that was so visually captivating I had to see what the book was about. Creating a great cover is like magic; an alchemy of vibe, image, and design that not just anybody can pull off.
I met Dee J. Homes of Bad Unicorn Designs at Emerald City Writers Workshop Conference in pre-pandemic times. She’s a brilliant writer–and an incredible designer. To my excellent luck, we remained friends. A cover she had done for a YA novel and posted on her Facebook page lived rent-free in my memory for months after. When it was time to revisit the covers for the Grace Bloods, I had one call to make.
Happily, Dee made time in her very busy schedule for me. Ok, between you and I, she clapped her hands with glee and screamed, “FINALLY!” because she knew long before I did that as beautiful as my covers were, they were the Wrong Covers for these books.
Dee really Got It, and in the meantime, Dark Fantasy Romance had become A Thing. I had so many covers to be inspired by this time around. Dee came with her outstanding ideas: the rich color palettes and subtle patterns, and chased me out of my fear of putting skulls on the cover. (The actual comment may have been, “Jas, the word DEATH is in the title.”) She also gets a thousand percent credit for that fabulous dancer in the snow globe image. I couldn’t have imagined anything so cool.
The result is three covers that fit the vibe of the books.
A vibe I think Book Riot captured best: “Dark, mysterious, and heady, Death’s Dancer…will appeal to both paranormal and sexy contemporary readers.”
If you have the original covers, you will always have a special place in my heart. It means you were among the first thousand people to read my books, and I will always be grateful to you for taking a chance on them. If I see you in public, please let me know so I can thank you profusely.
If you purchased an ebook, the new cover will appear when you update your copy. For Kindle, here’s how to “Update Your Kindle Book Version.”