One of the great hurdles to success within the Western business is actually one of the elements that seems so simple. The cover. Creatives the world over have tried, and in many cases, have failed to create covers for their books that resonate with the readership—and that applies to the Western genre too. That’s why we have a formula for covers.
Take Harvey Wood, for example. Harvey has been writing for years but only recently found great success for his books. He always possessed a fine writing style, but he did not possess covers that fit the formula for today’s readers. That’s why part of the process of making Wood a winner was centered around finding covers for him that would pop in the eyes of a reader.
Anyone who looks at any of the fine Wood Westerns on the market will see that the covers follow a theme, a theme that readers have shown over and over again that they will respond to. My personal favorite is “Rufus Younger: Mountain Man: Trigger Happy In The Mountains,” a cover that epitomises the danger of the Old West. A rugged cowboy against the elements with shotgun in hand. This cover is currently making its way up the bestseller chart, followed closely by the two other books in the series.
And this is the point. While the author may have very definite views about the cover they would want to see on their book, it really comes down to finding the cover that readers will respond to. I think it’s true that many of us have an inner creative demon dictating the way we would want to see a product look—but it might be time to put that demon away and look at what the reader would like to buy. “Rufus Younger: Mountain Man: Trigger Happy In The Mountains” has proven that it has a magical quality readers will respond to. The third book in the series, “Rocky Mountain Scout” is the fastest-chart-climbing Wood adventure—and again the cover is to blame for the opening salvo of any success. Any reader perusing the market will find themselves faced with an easy-to-discern action-led cover that leads them down the path of purchasing the book to discover the great story within.
So, I ask you: If you are currently writing and publishing Westerns and you have had no success, could it be that the cover you have chosen is stopping you from selling? Could this be the time for you to reassess and create covers closer to the formula? I think it’s worth a thought, don’t you? Take a look at the market and see what you can do to bring your covers closer to the desires of the reader.
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