Help me Choose a New Spring Jacket!

It’s the last day of winter, time to freshen things up. Salute the last of the snowdrops and lay down in that bed of daffodils!

I’ve decided to give my novel a makeover for the new season. My agent had been asking for a while for new artwork for the cover but I have been holding onto the fuschia–such an uncommon color in today’s world, unique even, deserving of more prominence. The UK and the US can’t even agree on the spelling of it, that’s how unique it is. But then my lovely friend over at FashionAssist sent me the following painting by Barrie Maguire in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day but also because it reminded her of the young Kat in my novel Silk for the Feed Dogs and I suddenly saw things differently.

Kat as Ireland!

Kat as Ireland!

Isn’t the painting lovely? It captures perfectly the idea of a country lass at home in her environment, content with her lot––or plot. Whether she’s from Tortilla Flat, the last surviving stagecoach stop on the Apache Trail with a population of 6, or the foothills of the Alps where cowmen stroll the single cobbled street in yellow breeches and scarlet waistcoats, pluck said bumpkin out of her natural habitat and drop her from a great height into the upper echelons of the international fashion industry and see what hilarity ensues.

My novel cover should express the story of the novel as effectively as this painting. So, that’s where I need your help. From the selection of 4 below, tell me which artwork you prefer for the new cover: Even if you haven’t read it (yet?) give me your gut response. I’ve got an Excel sheet to record all votes. As you can see I’m not messing about.

1. Dynamic Hats and Cocktails

Hats and Cocktails

2. At The FactoryAsleep under sewing machine 13.Kat and Edward:  Just a Couple of Swells

A Couple of Swells 1

4.The Feed DogsFeed Dogs


Don’t worry, my lovelies,  if you bought a copy with the original cover, it’ll be a collectors item soon and you’ll become filthy rich with the sale of it. Promise. You are a trailblazer. You could collect them like my husband used to do with baseball cards. I could change it up every season if that tickles your fancy. You might buy a cabinet to display them all…

Anyhow, over to you.

Until final vote tally, the last of the fuchsia is still available. Limited time only. Collectors Edition. You can buy Silk for the Feed Dogs here.


  1. Love them ALL but c’mon…you know Kat likes her drink, Jax! It’s #1, absolutely!!…OR, well, I really like #2 also (A girls’ gotta work!)….errrr, #3 is nice too, Edward does deserve a cover! But not the dogs…too scary, NO DOGS! How’s THAT for indecision?!

  2. Sinéad

    Jackie I absolutely *love* #4, but I think number #3 for the book cover. I would buy #4 as a print for myself though. I think you could have a separate market there 🙂 xx

  3. Well you asked. Not the dogs, too in your face. Kat and Edward conveys more of a love story to anyone who hasn’t read it and that is not what your book is about. The first one is lovely but number 2 is your book: young girl starting out in the business, trying to make a career for herself, the world of fashion still looming large and a bit menacing. And the sewing machine fits in with both the title and the fashion industry at large. Did you draw them???

  4. You probably don’t want to hear this, but I think you should keep the cover you’ve got. It has an enigmatic quality that pulls you in, but if you’re hell bent on change number 1 would get my vote.

    • I agree with you, Donald, it’s enigmatic. Maybe that’s good for a piece of art that stands alone, less for a book cover, who knows? Hell bent, no. Curious, maybe…

  5. terminalbeard

    Number 1, first runner up – Number 3 wins, the mood is happy and I ride a blue scooter.

  6. I love the mixed media drawings – all of them. I haven’t read it (yet) but if I have to chose I’ll say #2.

  7. Having wrested many a fabric from the jaws of the feed dogs myself, I absolutely LOVE #4… but I don’t think it suits your book. (I wish I had a print of it though.) 🙂

    Your new illustrations are all fabulous, but to be honest, I think your original cover is still best for what you want. The punch of colour communicates Kat’s nonconformist vibe, and graphically it works to make your book stand out even at the small image sizes on Amazon.

    I have very little design talent myself, but I’ve done a lot of research on what works to sell books. If I could offer some suggestions…

    I’d get rid of the hard-edged blocks of colour that contain your title and publisher – they overpower the fabulous freedom of the illustration behind them. Perhaps that was your intention – to show the conflict between Kat and the “establishment” – but someone who hasn’t read the cover copy doesn’t know about that yet, so it detracts from the strength of your image.

    Then I’d choose a “free-er” font instead of the cool, constrained one you currently have. Make the title bright (maybe the purple of the current title block) and large enough so that it reads in the small display size on Amazon. And make it ‘dance’ with your illustration. (Sorry, that sounds impossibly artsy-fartsy, but since you’re a designer I hope you know what I mean.) It shouldn’t be so ‘artistic’ that the title becomes unreadable, but let it play a little.

    One last detail – if you’re using a white background, create a black outline around the image that you use for your Amazon listing – it makes the book pop out of the background better.

    I hope I haven’t been too overbearing with all this, it’s just that I love your current cover! (And I just popped over to ‘Zon and bought your book, too.)

    Good luck…

    • I appreciate every one of your considered suggestions, Diane. The title and publisher is less within my control as it identifies all Betimes books. But I can control the placement/color of it against my artwork. You definitely grasped very well the thinking behind the original design. Thanks for grabbing a limited edition 🙂
      Now I think I’ll sit back and allow all stragglers to weigh in…

  8. 4 is AMAZING. So fun. 2 for a book cover. I quite like the original as well. Although it strikes me as more of a cover for one of my fashion textbooks. Reminds me of my fashion illustration textbook. Maybe Silk for the Feed Dogs will be come required reading in fashion schools. 2 has a whimsical quality to it and makes one want to know more about the girl napping. What’s her story? Plus I love line drawings. I admire the skirt in 1. I keep staring at it to make sure its not actually moving.

  9. I love my original cover, but if I could chose a cover, I’d go for #2.
    Hope this helps?
    Have a great evening / or day/ or morning /or…? 😉 😀

  10. Amy

    Amazing!! Love them all but in order of fav…#3 then #4 then #2, then #1 good luck and can’t wait for it!!! 🙂

  11. I’m with Donald. I like your current cover. XO

  12. I love them all. If I have to pick one or two, I’ll go for Dynamic Hats and Cocktails or At The Factory.

  13. Paula Scott

    2 seems the most obvious peek at the story and it’s setting. It grabs you if you love clothes but don’t yet know what feed dogs are!

    1 is just gorgeous, but the viewer starts weaving their own story about this girl and the veil puts her in the ’30s….

    They are both much lighter in mood than the current cover.

    I love the fine details which invite me to inspect the book.

  14. I vote for #4. It’s wonderful! The whole book is about the fight for self expression, fairness, love, trust and fun fun fun…the dogs express that beautifully. I like the other artwork but it’s just too sweet. Although, since it looks like I’ll be outvoted on the silk dog cover, I’ll vote for #2. Is there some reason you can’t use the painting of the child in the fields? That’s really sparking me.

    • Well, I like the idea of keeping the illustrations my own work, Laura. It makes the project personal even though the great big impersonal Amazon machine has a hold of it. Plus, and perhaps more importantly, the artist of the painting might want paying for use of his image! It’s not in the public domain. Your votes are noted 🙂

  15. How fun! I’m in the middle of “Silk for the Feed Dogs” (Why do I always want to call it Food for the Silk Dogs??) right now and loving it. Except for the cover. I don’t think it’s as visually appealing as your words, if that makes sense. The book is so so rich and well written that I’d like to see a cover such as No. 1, which is attractive yet it also tells a story. I believe that that’s intriguing to readers, to see a cover that holds a bit of a mystery. It makes them (almost forces them, actually), to peer inside). But of course that’s just my opinion and I see that many commenters actually prefer the current cover. So take my advice as a grain of salt, okay? Cheers and happy writing.

    • Cinthia, do I need to erect a sign that reads “No Feeding The Silk Dogs”? 🙂
      Your opinions, my dear, are vital and I’m so glad you’re enjoying the interior more than the exterior. As Oprah has been telling us for years, beauty is on the inside 🙂

  16. T.C.

    I agree with DFM above to keep original, but if it has to change then #3 for me!

  17. 2 for me wins the jacket!

  18. # 1 !!! OMG, we all have different views, but my choice is simple : I love purple even more than fuchsia !

  19. I think it’s a brave move – so if it helps, I’m a big fan of #2. I just love the sewing machine and I don’t see why you couldn’t incorporate some fuchsia in there somewhere 😉 #3 would be my second choice, but as someone already mentioned, it might not represent the plot as well as #2. I have to stop saying #2!! Good luck with it Jackie :))

  20. What is it with Irish women and wearing fuschia? My mother adored it too. There’s a reason it’s uncommon Jackie – my mother would have been 100 this year! And when, ever since that Webster upstart, have the UK and US agreed on spelling? Your copy-writer must do well out of you!

    I like #1 (specifically the hat in the mirror) but hold on, I’m not finished yet. I like #2 but the is unsynced scaling makes me think I’ve been drinking. Put #3 on the new cover please because it IS the book. Scrap #4 because dogs aren’t really dogs per your helpful explanation to male ignorami in the book.

    You’re welcome.

    • Away or that wi’ye, sure isn’t fuchsia a noble color and isn’t an Irish woman always right? Your mother’s fine taste was legendary.
      All the same, your insightful cogitations on this matter are greatly appreciated.

  21. I’m also with those who like the present cover. But if you do change, my vote goes to nbr.1. On the other hand, as a keen e-reader what I would like to see would be a collectors edition with your illustrations adorning the story. That would prompt me to buy the paper version. But I hope you don’t take this as yet another suggestion, merely a wish!

    • Oh, if only! I would love such an opportunity. I share your wish, Lia! Although I think the more general reading public is not so patient for illustrated novels anymore–unless they become graphic novels which wouldn’t be my bag at all.

      • Oh well, then we’ll just have to wait just a little bit longer… when you’re rich and famous you could induldge us with an illustrated collectors item of a novel (which I hope I’ll still be able to afford by that time)! 😀

  22. How lovely to see Barrie Maguire’s painting gracing the pages of this delightful post and thank you for the sweet mention…
    it’s wonderful to read that his painting helped inspire you to draw such expressive artwork…
    and I adore every one of them!!

    But as for which one I would choose for the cover for your novel, I’m afraid I must agree with Donald…
    because as I continue my intriguing read of Silk for the Feed Dogs, I realize that this story is about Kat finding herself and coming to terms with the very creative Irish woman that she truly is (something each of us must do).

    And like a luxurious piece of silk, Kat too must be put through the teeth of the feed dogs (a metaphor for the “fashion industry”)…
    after being manipulated, cut, pinned and even pierced by a needle (or two) from life and the industry…
    to fully become the one-of-a-kind couture piece that she was designed to be.

    So for me, as I get deeper into the novel, the current cover visually embodies the life metamorphosis of Kat so beautifully…
    and I am now beginning to see that the obscure figure behind the semi opaque veil of fuchsia (silk) is Kat…
    Kat in a silk chrysalis preparing to emerge as a one-of-a-kind fabulous butterfly at the end of this story…
    and I can’t wait to finish the read and celebrate with her!!

    So these humble insights help you lovely Jackie and I can’t begin to tell you how I relate to and adore Kat ♥

    PS And I also agree with Lia in Brussels…
    I too would love to see a collector’s edition with your illustrations adorning the story…
    because au contraire to The Fat Director–you can draw!! ~xo

    • Hi, my inspiration!
      I love your expression “behind the veil of fuchsia silk” and the idea of Kat in a chrysalis. That’s so spot on! I really enjoy your take on things and so excited that you relate to our plucky heroine. If there is ever a possibility to create an illustrated novel, I’ll get right on it and dedicate it to you and Lia!
      May your continued reading be just as pleasurable.XO!

      • I love this exchange of ideas. It has, I confess, motivated me to finally order a print copy. Can’t wait! (So isn’t that the question, what cover is going to make more readers open the book?) And yes, I want an illustrated edition, too!

      • Hi Paula,
        It is a great exchange, isn’t it? It’s a counsel of creative advisement, is what it is 🙂 My very own focus group. Glad you’re convinced to buy the flesh and blood copy. It’ll be a great companion on these spring nights.
        And you’re right, the question is indeed which cover will appeal to the most people, make them choose it from Amazon’s packed shelf, examine it front and back, and leave them feeling intrigued enough to buy it and crack it open in a cafe or sat in an armchair…

  23. Love love love the picture of the kid in the fields…would love to see a re-make of that! But if that’s out of the question…it’s no.2 for me! (just maybe add in an empty cocktail glass..or two!!! xxx

  24. Hm. I was going to say #4 but it seems to be putting some people off. Number 1 was my other favourite.

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