There’s a funny story about the profile on my book cover. Years ago, one of my work colleagues decided to be silly and Xerox his face. (Let’s be glad he chose the face – could have been worse!) The picture came out so blurred and creepy that you couldn’t tell who he was. I actually saved that piece of paper and years later showed it to my graphic designer to use as the inspiration for the profile on Free of Malice.
Some people thought the profile shot was of Thomas Barnette, my college friend who created the book’s theme song, Let Me Breathe. They do look similar, and yes his CD cover is a profile shot, but it’s serendipity. I actually hadn’t considered that we both used profile shots until I put the two side by side, and how interesting that they face each other! Now, if you ask Thomas, he may still swear it’s him.
As you can see, the Advance Reader Copy of Free of Malice had only the profile, and the rest of the cover was black. My thinking was that in the age of so many “busy” covers, wouldn’t a plain one stand out? But then, after receiving advice from several people (Candy Brakewood, Lynn Epstein, and Esther Levine at Book Atlanta to name a few), I decided to add more color.
The bullseye was a natural choice since it was already part of the website design and is referenced twice in the book. First, the main character, Laura, takes shooting lessons at Sandy Springs Gun Club and Range and practices with a target. Secondly, as her attacker fled, she got a glimpse of what looked like a bullseye on the back of his shirt.
Jill Dible of Jill Dible Design created two new cover designs (options A and B below). I decided to post the options on social media and ask for feedback. Surprisingly, the results were nearly 50/50. Based on several comments, I had a stronger preference for Option A with the red bullseye because it “pops” online and in person.
One comment I did take to heart from the voting was that the cover doesn’t fully describe the book, and I suppose that would be a challenge for any novel. It’s true, the cover doesn’t portray Laura’s therapy and healing, her trauma and suspicion, the hypothetical legal case or the racial tension or the fact that it’s based on a true story (my own). But maybe the eerie profile and the colorful bullseye will be enough to intrigue you to take a peek inside.