Once upon a time, I wrote a contemporary romance, in first person, about a woman who had tons of attitude and a lot of secrets. She also had a twin sister, and when her sister left her husband and kids, the heroine of my story found herself stepping into the void her sister left. She rationalized this as “helping out”, but the truth was never simple with Maralys, particularly when it came to her sister’s husband, James. I loved writing Double Trouble because I loved how tough and vulnerable both Maralys and James were.
My editor loved the book, too, which was exciting. Yet it was extremely difficult to decide upon a cover for it. While it was a romance, the story defied many expectations of romance readers. It was different, although it still ended with an HEA (and no, Maralys is not a nasty or ignoble character. Trust me on that and read the whole book before you decide.) We spent hours on the phone, bouncing around ideas. We really wanted to get it right, but couldn’t decide upon a strategy.
This was the first cover for Double Trouble. None of us were really over-the-moon about it (not even the artist), but in the absence of any other ideas, this is how the book went out in its original mass market edition. It was matte paper, with shiny shells. (There is a shell in the book. Not this kind, but the image does tie in to the story.)
The book didn’t exactly take the world by storm: the title “didn’t perform”, as they say in publishing circles. My editor and I still loved the story, but sales numbers determine a great deal in publishing. Claire Cross went to sleep for a while after that.
A few years later, Berkley launched Sensation, a trade paperback program, and my editor wanted to give both Third Time Lucky and Double Trouble another shot at the market. They were both republished in trade paperback editions, with new “chick-lit” covers. The cover artist was very popular at the time – these illustrations were done by Masaki Ryo, so the books were given a great second shot. This look really captured the playful tone of the books, and the trade paperback format itself indicated that they were different. Here’s the one for Double Trouble:Yup, that’s Maralys. She really does have chartreuse boots and a suitcase figures in the story. We had some nice reviews from the first time out to promote the book, which was good. The second time out, the two books did well enough to justify Claire Cross reviving to write the third and fourth books in the Coxwell Series.
In the meantime, some foreign rights to Double Trouble had been sold. Here’s the Danish edition. To me, it looks like a Harlequin Super Romance, which doesn’t evoke the tone of the book well, but might work in the Dutch market. (Authors generally aren’t involved at all in foreign editions of books. We find out when it’s over and done, IF we get copies of the finished book in the mail. Otherwise, we find out when there’s a payment posted to a royalty statement. We’re talking years after it’s all over and done.)
And here’s the Brazilian edition, which I really like. The approach was very different, more photographic, but captured Maralys’ tendency to provoke James very well:
There also was an Estonian edition, but I don’t have a copy of it. (In fact, I found out about the Estonian edition on Goodreads, when I was updating my covers. See my note about foreign editions, above.)
Last year, when it came time to repackage and republish the Coxwell Series, I had the same issue that my editor and I faced in 2000 and again in 2005. How should the books be packaged, so that readers knew what to expect? I kept coming back to the Brazilian cover for Double Trouble. I thought it was too dark, but I liked the core idea. After a lot of discussion with Kim Killion, my fave cover designer, we ended up with the current cover.
In fact, she did all four Coxwell covers, so that they’re clearly a linked series. This is new for this series and pretty exciting. I’m probably biased (!) but I think the new cover for Double Trouble is just about perfect. What do you think?