Michelle, I love your cover. It makes all sorts of questions pop into my head: Is the main character a boy or a girl? Is he or she a wild one (the best kind!)? Could this be a Catholic-school-gone-bad scenario? Does the story echo the great Shakespeare play? It may be some or none of those, but it doesn’t really matter, does it? The point is, I want to look inside and see.
Another reason this cover strikes me as smart is because it offsets the title, which, by having the name Hamlet in it, can make the subject seems a little dry to the uninformed (unless you’ve read Hamlet, in which case you know otherwise). But the cover itself is spicy and intriguing, and I especially love that it has a tag line at the top to clarify: First comes love, then comes madness. Also, the splash of red against a black and white background makes the book leap out at me with unbridled PASSION! If I saw this in a book store, I would definitely be intrigued to read further.
It’s funny, but the last few covers I’ve seen have all been amazing. It makes me nervous about my own book. What if I don’t like the cover? I agree covers are critical, as are titles. So far, I’ve only reached the title-angst stage. For the longest time my book, currently titled LEAGUE OF STRAYS was named THE LOSERS CLUB. I loved the original title, but then one day while perusing Amazon, I almost fainted dead away when I saw my title, already out there in the form of a middle-grade book. After people assured me that this title-twin was published awhile ago and for a different age demographic, I felt a little better. Still, something nagged at me. Then I figure it out: THE LOSERS CLUB sounds like a middle grade book. Clubs aren’t a sophisticated enough concept, as it turns out. And they don’t have the sinister ring I was going for. Oh, no, a middle grade title could be the strike of death for a fledgling YA! It’s funny you mentioned THE BABYSITTER’S CLUB in your post because that exact title started haunting me. I didn’t want my book to be lumped together with a popular series designed for much younger readers.
So what did I do? I sent out a zillion and one titles to everyone I knew, forcing them to vote. It was never unanimous, but I finally settled on LEAGUE OF STRAYS. I still can’t get a sense if it works or not, although several people have told me how much they like my title. Still, in insecure moments, I worry that LEAGUE might be too ladies-doing-lunch for YA readers. Like everything else to do with my book, I guess I am just too close to this to judge. Which is why it’s a good thing it’s being left in the hands of my publisher. With fresh eyes, the marketing department can determine what my book needs, cover and/or title, to attract the right readers.
Your publisher did a good job, Michelle; whatever people think about the short skirt, it’s intriguing, and it dispels any possibility that this is a boring story. You got me hooked without even knowing the plot, which is the ultimate victory of a winning title and cover.