For today's authors, maintenance of the back list (older titles) is every bit as important as creating new front list (new titles.) And so this week, while my cover designer had some free time in her schedule, we've been working together to give my most popular series, The Texas Brand, a fresh new look.

I wanted to give you all a peek at the new look.

These new covers will be replacing the old ones beginning this week, and within a few days they'll be at all retailers and here on the website as well.

In the old days, a book would sell just about all the copies it as ever likely to sell within the first month of its release. But today, that old paradigm has been turned inside out. My older titles are selling more today than they did when they were first released, and the growth continues to trend upward. So keeping them fresh and relevant is crucial.

 Our new look is, outdoors, moody sky, flowers, and couples in love. I think they really convey the essence of the series. Small town, country set, upbeat love stories. And that there's always trouble in on the way to paradise.

I hope readers respond positively to this updated look

A bit about the process…

We discuss and look and discuss and look. We first need to come up with a “look” for the series. Something each cover will have in common. We look at other covers in our genre as well as tons of stock art images. That takes the longest, deciding on a look. For this series, we landed on using couples, the outdoors, lots of flowers. Then, just to convey that the stories aren't all sweetness and light, (most have some suspense, intrigue, danger, even a murder or two on the way to happy ever after) we decided there would be a hint of moody, colorful sky backing each.

Next, we pore over photograph sites like Shutterstock, iStock, Dreamstime, 123RF, and others to find people who capture the personality of the characters. Often there's something not quite a perfect match to my description of the person in the book, but the personality is always dead on. For example, in Badlands Bad Boy, Lash's hair is described in the book a little longer. But that expression on this model's face, the dimple, the sheer perfection of the female model as Taylor, this was the image I went with.

Alterations come next…

Sometimes my artist can tweak the images to more closely match, but the more photoshopping we do, the worse the art tends to look, so we try to keep it minimal. Photoshopping long hair on this guy would've resulted in a mullet. So we captured the essence.

The alternative to this method would be to hire models and a photographer and it would cost thousands. Even the major publishing houses don't do it this way anymore. I just recently spotted a super star author's book where the publisher had used the same image on the cover that I had used on one of my own. However, Jessie (my daughter/designer) had tweaked the clothing, background, and hair color so it wasn't readily obvious. Whereas the big publishing house had used the image exactly as it was found on the site.

Once the art is chosen, Jessica goes to work creating the covers. She needs to insert the couples into the chosen backgrounds, tweaking the way the light and shadows fall if necessary, flipping them this way and that, and eventually adding the text parts–the title, my name, etc. We spend as much time choosing the fonts and colors of the text as we do the people.

We also changed the logo from an outline of the friendship state, to a cheerful and bright yellow rose of Texas.

It is my hope to reach a whole new bunch of readers who haven't yet tried this series, already the favorite of many of my established readers.

Print Plans

During summer vacation, we'll have a nice fat block of time to work on my endless to do list. Jessica is a teacher as well, so summer is her down time. Our big plans for this summer include getting this entire series and several others up and available in print. My hope is that we'll have both paperback and hardcover editions of this and a few other series, in time for holiday gifting this year.

Possible Bonus Story

I hope, with all my heart I hope, to write a Christmas at the Texas Brand story in time for the the 2018 holiday season. I have a lot on my plate this year, but this is near the top of my priorities for the year. So stay tuned.