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A Tale of Two Covers

Before...the original cover
After...the new cover of LADY LAZARUS

A twitter buddy of mine, Jessica Tudor, asked me last week why the cover of LADY LAZARUS was changed, and I thought that was a great question, one more complicated than it may at first appear.

The short answer to Jessica’s question is: I have no idea why the cover changed!  When I first handed in the manuscript for LADY LAZARUS, I filled out a detailed Artist’s Questionnaire, with ideas for cover concepts, books that are similar in theme, and descriptions of characters and key scenes that I thought would be good for a cover image.  But in most cases, authors do not get control over their cover art.  In my case that is a *good* thing, since I am drawn to art for visceral reasons that I have trouble articulating and analyzing with the rational section of my brain. :)

The first cover was not what I expected — my assumption was that the cover would look a bit more like an urban fantasy or steampunk novel cover.  But I’m guessing that the art department was aiming for a more mainstream effect, so that people who enjoy historical novels or supernatural novels would pick up the book too.

Sometimes, cover art changes in response to input from buyers for the major book chains, who give the art department important information about buying trends, what’s selling well, and what they think will attract readers to pick up the book.  All I know is, I liked the original cover, appreciated how well thought out it was, and I think I grasped what the art department was aiming for.  And I always thought that red was terrific.

But this new cover! I loved it from the moment I saw it — and I first saw it at the Jewish Book Council in a tiny thumbnail in their catalogue, and then full size on the autographing poster at BEA.  This new cover is so beautiful it takes my breath away.

What do you think of these covers? Do you fancy one over the other? I am always curious to hear what draws a reader to check out a book. 

And here are some resources for you, places where people with a wonderful eye consider the question of what makes an arresting illustration:

Henry Sene Yee Design

The Art Department — the marvelous blog of Tor’s Art Director, Irene Gallo


  1. Jess Tudor says:

    I’ll be honest – I prefer the new one. Maybe because it’s just a thumbnail and I can’t tell, but the first one looks like an old lady’s lamp where the statue’s head is the light bulb. I’m glad they kept the color scheme and the fact it’s overall not busy, though. I like that it’s not a ‘scene’ the way most UF is lately (both versions). Also prefer the font/style of the title in the new one. It does seem more cross-genre overall.

    • admin says:

      You are not the first person to tell me that the lady’s head in the first one looks like a lightbulb :) As for the font, the first cover’s title had a silvery tone that looks very cool on the ARCs (the first cover is on the ARCs, which makes them even *more* collectible IMHO). But I still like the font better on the new one — it’s easier to read and in a classic, clean font.

      I met a bookseller recently who told me that anything with angels is flying out of the genre sections of his store, so that bodes well….

      Thanks so much for your comments. I am not the world’s most visual person, so getting the first reactions of readers is always helpful to me.

  2. Charlene Teglia says:

    I think the 2nd cover is more dramatic and striking; it looks sexier, too. You can see that making the winged figure darker pulls the eye and makes it more the center of attention, adds more contrast. It’s a good design. Fingers crossed it flies off shelves!

    • admin says:

      Hey Charli — I’m so glad you like this second cover too. The golden highlights on the back of the angel’s wings also draws the eye to the angel’s shoulders (and the book’s title) – I love the details and the blocky man-angel wings.

      I brought the image of the new cover to the LIRW luncheon and there was a lot of appreciation for my angel-man in the fire :) A bunch of the industry folks mentioned angels as a trend in both manuscripts and new releases…I’ll blog more about the luncheon next week once I catch my breath!

      Thanks Charli…

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