The manuscript for my third Pine Hills Police book is done. At least my part for round one. It's now in the hands of my editor. Because the book is the third in a previously published series, I knew there would be no chance that a traditional publisher would want to pick it up, so it's an Indie job from start to finish.
Now, if I did have a traditional publisher, at this point, they'd be working on a cover. They'd be deciding whether my working title actually worked. There might be some give and take, but ultimately, those decisions are theirs.
But I have to be my own marketing department, and my own art department. With a publisher, I'd have filled out a cover request form summarizing the plot, describing the characters, suggesting "looks" I liked or didn't like. Then, some time down the road, they'd send me the image and say, "This is your cover." And, for the record, it's unusual for them to make changes unless they've spelled your name wrong, or you can convince them that your book is set in Oregon, and cactus on the cover won't work.
However, even though I'm hiring an editor and a cover artist, I still bear most of the responsibility. I need to choose the final title, and point my cover artist in the right direction.
So, I'm begging groveling asking for some help. Here are the issues.
1. The book is part of a series. Both title and cover have to "fit" with the other 3.
2. The most workable images don't fit the character whose story it is…not by much, but it's still a "his" book. However, with the perfect "hers" title, I can see it going the other way very easily. (I've already written the final scene twice—once in his POV, once in hers!)
So, how about a little brainstorming? I laid out the basics of the book last week, but here they are again.
Against her parents' advice, Ashley has split with her unsupportive fiancé and moved to Pine Hills to start up her dream business: Confections by Ashley. The bakery is under construction, and there have been countless setbacks, which she's not sure can all be attributed to the work crew, which she thinks of as the Klutz Brigade. A dead body found on the premises doesn't help, especially when the cops think she has a motive for doing the killing.
Scott, a county sheriff homicide detective has quit his job after a traumatic case—one that screams "failure" to him, although others consider him a hero. He has to deal with his injuries, post-traumatic stress, and being able to accept that he's not a cop anymore. He's always been defined by his job. He accepts a civilian job with the Pine Hills Police Department, and is having trouble figuring out how he fits in.
Of course, since it's a romantic suspense (or, my preferred "Mystery With Relationships"), Scott and Ashley will hook up and have to deal with helping each other. He thinks Ashley, his new neighbor, is innocent, but when he's asked to help the detectives with the investigation, he has to decide if he wants to be a cop or a protective boyfriend.
Titles? My working title is "Scott Free" which plays on the theme that he has to accept who he is now in order to move forward with his life.
Cover images? Something with chocolate is the easier choice, but it doesn't really fit if it's Scott's book, especially if the title is "Scott Free." On the chocolate side, brownies, hot cocoa and doughnuts come into play. On the cop side, it's more abstract--a cop rediscovering life. Darkness and light could be themes.
Leave your suggestions in the comments, and there's a mention in the book's acknowledgements if I use either your title or cover suggestion. And, of course, you'll get a copy of the book.
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society