Three of Swords Gets a Facelift

Special Note: This cover has still not posted to Amazon as of this writing. I am told it is under review.

See what I mean about prudish Americans? There is no ass cleavage, there is no dick, there isn’t even any real physical detail (can’t see nipples!), yet the image is under review. I think they’re seeing shit that isn’t there.

However, ARe and Barnes & Noble posted it and I haven’t heard anything back from them about it being unacceptable. I have no further comment on the matter.

Update: Amazon posted the cover. 🙂


Nearly everyone who’s read Precog tells me they like/love it. But it’s not selling well. I would like to make sure it reaches as many people as possible, and not just because it makes me money. I write for myself first, but I write for you next. I love it when new people find me. Your appreciation helps keep me going.

Just yesterday, I got an email from someone who wrote to tell me how much he enjoyed the Precog series. There is nothing better than hearing that from a reader.

I decided it was time to do something about making the series more visible. I created a new cover in Photoshop and slapped it on book 1. What do you think?

Three of Swords ARe new

I found the photo in a folder but it was one of those lovely images that gets passed around the internet and there was nothing to tell me who the photographer was. So I posted it in a couple places and asked for help. Within an hour, someone on G+ provided me with a name and a link and I emailed her. She lives in Israel but speaks and writes English.

This morning, email flew back and forth and in the end, she gave me permission to use the photo. She thought it was too processed, but I explained how many Americans are prudes about nudity and I had to apply various filters to make it look more like ART (though the original is breathtaking, not gonna lie).

I’m part of a m/m romance writers group on Facebook. There is consensus among them that naked sells. That suggestion sells. SEX sells. I can’t disagree. It shows in the number of sales a writer racks up.

This is an experiment. I know how many copies I’ve sold since I released Three of Swords with the original cover. Let’s see what happens if I switch it up, try something sexy but tasteful.

I’ve always thought writhing torsos on covers were tacky, and in fact, I still think so, so when I decided to do this, I knew exactly what I wanted: not that. Not the half-dressed guys with muscled chests and no heads. Not the collage covers that are so popular with many publishers right now. Not the cute boys touching/groping/kissing against a city skyline or piece of cowboy heaven.

If I couldn’t do it differently and still catch the eye, I didn’t want to do it at all.

I think I succeeded. I’m very interested to see how sales do in the next few months. In the meantime, I have to give some thought to the covers I want on books 2 and 3….



About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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13 Responses to Three of Swords Gets a Facelift

  1. AJ Rose says:

    Not that I don’t love what you’ve done (because I do! Very much!) But I wonder about the photo processing and if you *could have* gotten away with less. You’re right, the original is beautiful, and it makes me wonder where that arbitrary line is if you’d barely filtered it. It’s a curiosity thing more than a criticism of this cover. I, too, am very interested to see what happens to your sales.

    • Once I got permission from the photographer, I thought about whether or not to back off the processing. But after seeing how Amazon hesitated–and remembering they sell books all over the world–I decided to stick with the current treatment. If people want to see the original, they can visit the photographer’s site; it’s listed in the front material.

  2. Sarah_Madison says:

    It’s eye-catching and gorgeous! I have more to say on this subject, but work calls. I think you’re right about the ‘typical’ cover, and that covers sell–but I also think like the conversation we had about sex in stories the other day–the genre needs to grow past the covers that allow readers to easily identify the. Once M/M romance stories are not quite so hard to find, I think that more flexibility in covers will be seen as well.

    • I think we will see the genre change in the next year or two. Readers are very used to seeing “those” covers and knowing what to expect inside.

      I’ve noticed lately that Dreamspinner is putting out more and more books with what I call “mainstream” covers, i.e., simple, beautiful, effective designs with nary a naked nipple in sight. ;/

      As our genre grows up, so will our readers and the covers we put out to entice them.

  3. Reblogged this on Madison Dean Fiction and commented:
    Another great blog post I ran across today–how important covers are to the genre!

  4. diannegray says:

    I like the picture, it’s stunning! I’m going over now to take a look at the original…

  5. suze294 says:

    I can understand your reasoning and the picture is great – very futuristic, metal man-y(if thats a word). I like the originals as they speak more about the series (speaking as one who has bought amd read them). Still, fingers crossed they generate more sales for you!

    • I chose this pose for several reasons. First, nudity indicates vulnerability, and Gray and Cooper are definitely vulnerable. Second, arms folded over the top of the head shows someone under external stress as it indicates a protective position. Third, Gay and Cooper like being naked. 🙂

      So you see, I did think this through. It’s not just a pretty naked man on a cover. 🙂

  6. Elin Gregory says:

    That’s a beautiful image AND very tasteful. It’s also got a lot more meaning to it than the average ‘piece of meat’ torso. There’s tension and vulnerability. Super choice.
    You’re perfectly right that sex sells and since M/M means sex to most readers having a sexy image on the front makes good sense.

  7. Isa says:

    Romance covers have changed throughout the years. I personally don’t pick a book because of the cover alone. I do expect a cover to tell me a little about the book. If I see a half naked man or woman I would expect the story to be heavy on the romance. If I see a spaceship I would expect more of a science fiction story. I also don’t care about covers as much as when I used to buy paperbacks. Then I knew if I read a book by its covers. Now I can’t tell anymore.

    I do have to say that I do like the new cover. I also liked the old cover. But they both say different things about the book. It will be interesting to see how the sales are with the change.

    Of your book covers I think my favorite cover is The Blue Paradise. As soon as I see it I feel like I’m there. The next one I like is Phoenix Rising. The cover, the title of the book and the story all match.

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