HomeWriting LifeArticles on WritingThe REVISED new LONGVIEW covers, and how to run a solvent self-pub business


The REVISED new LONGVIEW covers, and how to run a solvent self-pub business — 19 Comments

  1. I like these covers but honestly if it weren’t for the spaceships, I wouldn’t know these books are sci fi. I am new to the Holly Lisle Universe, so I am not familiar with what “Tales from the Longview” is in reference to. The spaceships are my only point of reference for recognizing these books as sci fi. I agree with other commenters that illustrations representing the prisoner, courtesan and philosopher might be more effective combined with the spaceships — unless prisoner, courtesan and philosopher are the names for the spaceships? In that case, the spaceships make perfect sense. I like the visuals on this cover because it creates a sense of intrigue and pleasant anticipation for me. I immediately thought, “Looks interesting. What are these stories about?” Based on these current covers, I would definitely turn the cover to read the plot summary to find out.

  2. I’ve read sci-fi for over 50 years–God, I hate how that sounds, but in that time I’ve seen how covers have changed and found faves along the way.

    these are, as some have said, very hard science fiction in looks. I have no problem with that. I love hard science fiction. But, and this is a big but, I wonder if the readers of the hard stuff will find disappointment inside. I say this because each of these stories is purely character driven, rather than a physics driven series.

    I’ll take any Holly Lisle story I can get my hands on. The name has my hands on the cover. I’m just wondering about those who don’t know the name as well.

    My preference, too, goes to the old covers and titles. They’re blatantly honest about what to expect inside and gives the reader a sense of anticipation. These new titles do not, and the covers only reflect the genre’s slices of bread, not the meat inside.

    JMHO for what it’s worth. I like these covers as covers, but they say something different to me than what I know is inside.

  3. These definitely read more as a series, and are clear SF. The titles might cause some confusion with your existing readers, so make sure to make it clear in the description that they were previously published as, but I think these will do what you’re trying to do.

    And thanks for the breakdown on the expenses. It’s good to make that clear especially when everyone is not in the same situation.

  4. So many mixed feelings. Oy! I like these covers. If I knew nothing about the books, these definitely scream SciFi, but they feel more hard sci-fi (I’m thinking Greg Bear – ugh) than space opera (Ender’s Game, Star Trek, etc.). So, honestly, I might or might not have picked up these books based solely on these covers. But because I know these are your books, the covers don’t really matter. I will read anything you write.

    I have to agree that your original cover for book 3 wasn’t working really at all, and these do. But I still much prefer the original covers on the first two books, as well as the original naming conventions. Maybe you could keep the original titles and just add subtitles (The Prisoner, The Courtesan, The Philosopher). Although then you’re getting into really long names if you’re also including the series title on each cover.

    As to making covers you hate – I am left thinking of you telling us often to write what we love, to not create something just because it fits someone else’s vision or will be popular. Would the same not hold, to a certain extent, to the covers? If you hate these, don’t use them. Because if you hate them, they don’t really represent you, which, to me, means they can’t really represent your stories as well as they might. I understand that sometimes expedience is the best policy. But if at all possible, I’d rather see covers you love.

  5. Hi Holly, I am a bit behind with these I guess. I love this 3rd version the best of all. Love the font/color change to the words.

    If there is any way to stretch the part with the stars to behind the lettering too, I think that would make a big difference in making the title feel integrated with the picture. (so for example on 1, the section below the ship with the 3 stars, if you could have more of that on the top and bottom bands, rather than just black, I think it would feel more like the whole cover was one thing) and repeat for all 3 covers…

  6. Very interesting to see the progression here, and observe my own reactions.

    Based on the title and cover, I had no interest in reading “Enter the Death Circus” – it felt like something dark and difficult, which is not my thing these days.

    “The Selling of Suzee Delight” – even more so – dark, gritty, unpleasant, along the lines emotionally of The Walking Dead. (this is just my emotional reaction to the titles and covers, mind – I didn’t even get as far as reading the summaries.)

    “Bashtyk Nokyd takes the Longview” was just meh, both because of the difficult title (indicating this isn’t going to be an easy read) and because I knew it was sequel to the ones I had no interest in.

    Now, though… The covers catch my eye and make me want to read the summary. They scream science fiction – and the titles don’t make me work.

    Reading the summaries… I still feel like it’s not my thing, but that’s ok! It’s now at least a maybe, next time I get in the mood for something dark.

    Thank you for sharing the process. It makes me want to go back and re-evaluate what my covers might be saying that I don’t realize. 🙂

  7. Even better. I like that the title treatment is now not the same as the author name.

    This is definitely an improvement again.

  8. I definitely understand and respect the fact that you do your own covers, Holly, since sure $200 for a cover once a year isn’t going to break the bank but $200 per cover for multiple novellas/novels/writing courses coming out all the time will.

    I do really like the more closely-tied theme these have, but I feel like I’m missing a bit of the human connection with just the different images of spaceships as the main thing that changes.

    I really like the first one and for Longview #1, I think the spaceship is a great emblem. But… there’s nothing inherent that I can see in Spaceship #2 that reminds of Suzee Delight (and I’ve read it and really, really liked it) and I have the same issue with Spaceship #3… there’s nothing in it that inherently makes me think of Bashtyk, or of a philosopher.

    Could there perhaps be sci-fi ish objects other than spaceships that could change cover to cover? Like, a pretty dress/knife/interrogation chair on the Suzee cover, etc.? Not sure yet what might work for Bashtyk.

    I know that kind of thing presents its own Photoshop challenges because the new image has to work with the colour, tone, texture etc of the background.

    But, basically, I feel like they’re now TOO interchangeable as covers–without the “#4: The Joker” titles, I wouldn’t be able to glance through them and immediately tell which is which.

    Best of luck! I know you’ll get there.

  9. I feel terrible for saying this, especially after all your hard work in creating the new covers, but I liked the old ones better. Don’t get me wrong, these new covers have the sterile, coldness of science fiction that draws a lot of die hard fans, but I’m not one of those. I liked the old covers because they were different (and colorful), think the quirkiness of Firefly coupled with titles that sounded like episode titles. One of my favorite things to do before I watch a new t.v. series is read the episode names (okay, okay I also read ahead, sometimes to my own disappointment – this only works on Netflix) to see if they sound interesting. I have no doubt these will work wonderfully, I just wanted to throw in a little defense of the old ones.

    • I STILL like the old ones better.
      I like the old titles better.
      I like the stretched and abused fonts better.
      I like the colors on the old covers better.

      I don’t like bleak, or stark, or cold, or interchangeable.

      I don’t like the new covers. I made them because I got hammered for the other ones being unprofessional, and a lot of comments from people saying they would never read stories with those covers.

      But I don’t like them at all, and for exactly the reasons you list.

      • Well, the test cover for Bashtyk Nokyd was Crap In A Box (TM), and I never did find a title I liked for that episode.

        Still, my comments stand for the other covers.

        • Count me in the group of people who prefer the old titles. “The Selling of Suzee Delight” just has a draw to it that “The Courtesan” doesn’t. And “The Philosopher,” to be totally honest, sounds even less appealing.

          Good luck.

        • If I may, I’d like to offer a reason why the third cover seems out of place (someone mentioned a floating head and I chuckled). Your other two covers offer what Kelsey mentioned, a human connection. The first had a marvelously captured planet at a perspective that looks very much like the view from the front row of a futuristic circus. The second captured what looks like a geisha in make-up and clothing (suggested) that screams high-end courtesan, a profession that many of us marvel at. The reason both of these were so appealing? The art was secondary to the episode title. Read: Would you like some art with your title?

          The third, unfortunately asks – Would you like a title with your art? Your episode titles are awesome, they should be in the forefront.

          Before I forget, I regret not being a part of the “hammered for unprofessional cover art” conversation – I probably missed it.

          All the Best!

  10. I like them much better than the original covers (in particular better than the floating head). And they also definitely all have an similar feel so they feel like the same series.

  11. Ooh, these are good. The font is gorgeous, especially the title font! The blending between the bars and the picture is not so stark, at least in the first cover, the other two are harder to tell for sure. Love how you used size of the font to emphasize the important words. I’d pick em up in hot second without knowing you wrote em. ESPECIALLY that first episode. There is something about that cover that I cannot put my finger on that makes it work better than the other two in my opinion. Maybe it’s the glowing red contrasting with the cool blues? I dunno but that one is gold!

      • I can only imagine how hard it is to do your own covers. I did really like the old ones, with their unique titles. (Except the third mock up…that one lost me). But these will work for the genre despite their ‘interchangeable’ feel. Although I do wonder if there is a way to keep the uniqueness of the first two covers and integrate it into this style….

        Regardless, the covers really just have to do their job and announce the ‘type’ of story inside, and these do that. Maybe in some ways they do it better than the old ones…they certainly work better as as set or whole, which I suspect will draw people into the series since it will be much more obvious which ones belong together!

        Thank you for showing us how the covers change as time goes on and how you decide which ones to use and when! I really hope this series gets lots more readers now because it truly deserves to be read and enjoyed!

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