What Do You Think of the New Cover?










Just thought I’d do a bit of an informal poll today — what do you all think of the new cover?

Looking at them side by side, I can see that the original cover was aimed much more at women — with the pink and light blue and purple (on the back). And the woman walking  in the middle, of course!

On the other hand, it says “adventure” to me very clearly. I especially like the multiple arches, though when I first saw it, I  was somewhat alarmed. I hadn’t written the original description of the scene with multiple arches, seeing as  passing through it was to represent the one-time decision of believing in Christ.

But then my editor (who is now my agent) told me about his discussions with the art director and how the multiple arch design worked much better artistically than the single arch and did I think I could rewrite the scene to include it?

Well that threw me a bit, but I went to the Lord, asked for guidance and He provided it through a friend who pointed out that the verb tense for believing is the one where you make the decision once but the results go on forever.

Loved that. So I rewrote the scene, and the arches stayed.

The new cover is more mysterious and science fiction-y and definitely has a more masculine feel than the first. Which I think might have been the intention. Ten years ago, the primary buyers and readers of Christian fiction were women. And although typically it’s the men who go for science fiction, it made no sense in the marketers’ opinion to try to appeal to them even if Arena was science fiction. And so they did not. It’s one of the reasons why Christian science fiction and fantasy has had such a difficult time getting going in this field.

With their reprints, Bethany House is trying for a simpler, more … generic? … look than the first releases and I think this one’s quite intriguing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, whatever they might be.

33 Responses to “What Do You Think of the New Cover?”

  1. 1 Christine Watson June 13, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    I love the new cover! I love that it leaves more to the reader’s imagination. And though it’s a bit ambiguous, it’s mysterious, intriguing. I do like the old cover and thought that it represented the book well. But. There’s just something about the new one that makes you want to open the cover and solve the mystery. 🙂

  2. 3 Patrick Aquilone June 13, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    To begin with, I am a man. I picked up “Arena” one day while strolling through “Half Price Books” looking for something–anything–that would appeal to my fantasy/sci-fi love. Being a Sci-Fi nut and a Christian doesn’t afford me a lot of opportunity. The cover drew my attention and I picked it up and immediately liked what I read about the book on the back cover. I also noted the word “Adventure” and that was something I was looking for in what I wanted to read. After all, just about every other cover seemed to have a woman on it dressed like she belonged on “Little House on the Prairie” (which was a TV series I grew up on and enjoyed but would not want to read).

    Following reading that book, I looked you up and discovered that “Light of Eidon” and “The Shadow Within” was out and ordered them from Amazon. I read them in about four months, which if you know me is fast for me. As God worked it out just as my wife and I were finishing “The Shadow Within”, “Shadow Over Kiriath” was released. My wife and I got it and read it in about two months. My wife could have read it in about a day but we agreed to read it together and talk about it. In fact, your books were the first books we did this for and have found a neat hobby to do together now having read a few others including some Wayne Thomas Batson. Anyway, we have followed you since then and look forward to your next book.

    Looking at the new cover, I agree it is more sci-fi-ish and will appeal to the Fantasy/Sci-Fi market, which I will grant has more men than women but does have women. It is a cool cover and I can’t find anything wrong with it. But I like the original cover. I really like the tri-swirl thing around the “e” and the arches look awesome. The new cover still has kind of sort of the tri-swirl in the middle but it doesn’t seem as distinctively cool to me. Again, that is not that it is bad, but just not as cool in my mind as the first. However, having seen this cover on the shelf I would immediately pick it up because it looks sci-fi-ish and take a look at it. Doing as I did last time, I would wind up buying the book. So from a marketing perspective, I can see what they are hoping to achieve and think they will hit the mark with it.

    But to choose, I like the first cover.

    This is different from my opinion of the “white” based covers for the LOTGK series as I like them better than the originals. The seem to have a cleaner, slicker, cooler look even though it is the same graphic.

    See what happens when you ask a writer to write something. LOL!! Hope my ramblings help.


    • 4 karenhancock June 14, 2012 at 11:53 am

      Thanks for the lengthy assessment, Pat! I love hearing allt he details of how you chose the book when it had the original cover, and how you’d react to the new one. Thanks too for the story on how you and your wife read the GK books. That is cool!

      As for the white covers on LotGK, I think those are just for the Kindle version. If they were to re-release the GK books, as I understand things, they’d have new, very different covers from the old ones.

  3. 6 Rita Beaumier June 14, 2012 at 6:33 am

    Karen, I like the new cover…it’s been a while since I read it but it looks more masculine for sure…if doing this gets the men to pick it up now that all the women have, go for it!!

  4. 8 Nona June 14, 2012 at 8:39 am

    The new cover more clearly relates to the sci-fi target audience, which is very important. There are a lot of women who don’t care for sci-fi, and with Christian fiction not being sorted by genre, the cover is our next area of conveying what the book is about…. Preaching to the choir, here, I’m certain. :o)

    That being said, I LOVE the new cover. It makes me even more eager to read the book, because it hints at danger as only sci-fi can present.

    • 9 karenhancock June 14, 2012 at 11:45 am

      Yes, Nona, I hadn’t thought about the fact that Christian fiction isn’t sorted by genre… at least in the retail stores. You’re right. I think that was definitely a problem with The Enclave’s cover, which looks more like a thriller or romantic suspense than a wild ride of imaginative speculation. Thus some readers were disappointed because they were not interested in taking wild rides. Which illustrates the folly of basically tricking readers into picking up a book they’d never pick up if they really knew where it was going…

  5. 10 CarynK June 14, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Love it! Though I’m very partial to covers that hint at the theme or story of the book without telling us what a scene or person looks like. I think it’s a great move by Bethany House

    • 11 karenhancock June 14, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Thanks, Caryn. I guess I never thought that there would be people who actually preferred the hinting at a theme or story. I think I must be too literal and picture oriented myself. It makes me see how challenging coming up with an effective cover can be.

  6. 12 Silverbill June 14, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I think the new cover is very intriguing making you want to find out more. Anyway I rushed over to local library and check out the old copy. If I can spring for a kindle copy I will as I like to make notes as I read.

    • 13 karenhancock June 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      I love that people think it’s intriguing. And that you rushed to the library to check out an old copy. And what I REALLY love is that the library HAS an old copy! LOL.

  7. 14 Christina Adams June 14, 2012 at 11:42 am

    I love the new cover too! It looks more modern and has a YA feel to it like the covers of Divergent/Insurgent (Veronica Roth) or Incarceron (Catherine Fisher). Both have a central object that gives an idea of what the story or world will be like. The new makeover is exciting and will hopefully draw many new readers!

    • 15 karenhancock June 14, 2012 at 11:54 am

      Thanks for responding, Christina. I’m excited by all the people who are saying they love it! As a writer, I never know.

  8. 16 mylittlebub June 14, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I love that it’s much more abstract and the colors are very appealing.

    • 17 karenhancock June 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm

      I think it’s great contrast between the light and dark that makes the colors appeal. The original was much more …midtone, I guess. I’m surprised at how many people like that it’s abstract. I guess they can’t claim to be disappointed though when it is.

  9. 18 Rebecca LuElla Miller June 14, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    My reaction was the same as Christina’s. Seems Tosca Lee/Ted Dekker’s series has a similar look too, so I think this is quite contemporary.

    I’m not good with covers, but I notice color, so I like the new cover because it catches my eye much more than did the largely white and pastel earlier cover.


    • 19 karenhancock June 14, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      That it’s eye catching, even for someone not good with covers is always good to know. I think it’s the contrast, especially against that dark background that gives the sense of something a little more hard hitting and, well, dark, than the original. Thanks, Becky.

  10. 20 RyanPaigeHoward June 14, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Love it! I’ve been wanting this book, but was never able to find, nor get it. I became a fan of yours after reading, The Enclave.

    I rarely buy used books, just a weird thing about me… this was one that I have been searching for.

    Happy to hear it and I love the new cover art! Great for guys and girls.

    • 21 karenhancock June 14, 2012 at 5:57 pm

      My mother wouldn’t buy used books either. Glad you’ll be able to get a copy and with a cover that you like. Glad to know you liked The Enclave as well. 🙂

  11. 22 Shannon Dittemore June 14, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Hi Karen! I’m new to your site, but I really like both covers! Am I allowed to like both?

    The first reminds me of the many post-apocalyptic covers we’re seeing, while the second reminds me of the newer covers Thomas Nelson has used for Stephen R. Lawhead’s, The Song of Albion trilogy. Also reminiscent of the Dekker/Lee stuff out now, which I see others have observed as well.

    I look forward to adding you and Arena to by TBR stack.

    • 23 karenhancock June 14, 2012 at 5:58 pm

      Hi Shannon, and welcome! Of course you’re allowed to like both covers. I do. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the book behind the cover as well.

  12. 24 Joanna Wilson June 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    I REALLY LOVE the new cover — it’s so MYST like and … and steam punk….. and I suddenly love Arena more after seeing it! 😀

    (I actually never really cared for the original cover — it made the book look, and so set a tone for the book, that was too much like chick lit :P) This one grabs my attention and imagination, whereas the other one (honestly) would have turned me off if I hadn’t already read Light of Eidon, and so knew Karen was an amazing writer. This cover I would pick up in an instant.

    • 25 karenhancock June 14, 2012 at 6:02 pm

      Yes, Joanna, I thought steampunk as well the first time I saw it. And I think that chick-lit flavor certainly drew in some people who were NOT pleased with the story they got behind the cover. I’m pleased to know that this one grabs your attention whereas the other would have turned you off, since I doubt you’re the only one. Maybe it won’t just grab a new generation of readers but a new category of readers. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  13. 26 Gil Jamie June 15, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I’m sorry, but I’ve got to go with the old cover. It wins hands down with me. It’s so beautiful and inviting! It just draws me in every time! Our pastor did a sermon series on faith recently and had a picture sort of similar, it was just the same kind of colors, same feel, and had a girl stepping into water. It made me think of Arena and made me excited for the series from the beginning! This new cover looks totally boyish to me. It doesn’t say “fantasy”. It says “sci-fi” or “mystery”. So I’ve got to say they did the best job on the original. Hard to beat the original 🙂

  14. 28 Lois Ann June 15, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I am a person who literally does not judge a book by the cover. I’ve just found that it’s not always the best representation of what’s between the covers. That being said, the older cover was fine. The new one does have an edgier, contemporary sci-fi look. I like it. But I can’t say which one I liked better. Just my 2 cents!

  15. 29 Ricardo June 16, 2012 at 12:33 am

    I am a guy, and while the original cover definitely screamed “GIRLY,” it actually seemed to invite me in to read it. Of course, I had already read the Light of Eidon series, so I knew I would like it. I love the original cover. However, the new cover will definitely draw more people to check out the book who ordinarily wouldn’t.

    Now, the cover for the Light of Eidon… that is also girly! The fellow there definitely gives off a Fabio vibe! However, the writing is so good that anyone who is introduced to it will definitely enjoy it.

  16. 30 Ben Patterson June 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Ms. Hancock,
    I love your work: Arena, The Guardian King series … I read The Enclave; a bit too dark for my tastes, but a good read nonetheless. Arena’s new cover is good, though it seems to shadow The Hunger Games cover with the circles connected by rods thing happening in the background. Regardless, aside from my own books, I recommend your work above all others to everyone I speak to; and Arena before anything else.
    In Christ Jesus,
    a true fan of your work.

  17. 31 Pony June 18, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Hi Karen,
    Decided to weigh in here. I like the new cove,r and will take an observational turn I have not seen in these posts…as of yet. I suspect there is something much greater going on with this new cover than meets the naked eye. A spiritual battle – and the book with all of the doctrinal application imbeded may appeal to a totally diffferent audience on several fronts.

    One, as we enter what may well be the final stages of the Angelic Conflict I notice so much more of the Sci-Fi, alien aproach to everything including TV ads, so why not your book. All a part of the mental preparation of things to come.There is so much more I could say here but will leave it at that. Second, I think this may be the kind of cover someone searching after the rapture may be more likely to be drawn to (but I really dont know).

    At my first glance I was struck by the triangles. I thought of Israel immediately…almost as a reaction, and began looking closer to make sense of it. Then I noticed the three circles in the center and immediately thought of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit…the trinity…three, just like a triangle. The triangle being the strongest of all shapes I thought interesting. The number 3 so carefully hinted to my sub-conscious in this picture till it formed these observations. The symbols remind me of searching the scripture in original language with all the weird and different characters. Also cool and played into my inquisitive mind. The picture as a whole looked like a table fan. Not sure that really means a darn thing. Just an observation, but NOT my first.

    Personally I liked the old cover when it was there, but because of the Angelic Conflict I like this one more. More becasue of how it came about and how it is being ‘sold’ if you will. I find it incredibly interesting that man is almost defending why the change (to attract more men?) when in reality it has more to do with a spiritual battle raging. So we are back to where I started. In conclusion I think this book may have a purpose in other lives at a future time and that will require a new look for a new time. Just my .02

    I love how you operate in your gift.
    In Him…a really big fan.

    • 32 karenhancock June 18, 2012 at 10:05 pm

      Whoo! VERY interesting assessment. I like the conclusion, too. 🙂 I saw the table fan right off, last summer in fact when I first found the design where they’d put it up at Amazon. Of course it didn’t help that I had a table fan sitting on my desk not far from the computer at the time…

  1. 1 Arena by Karen Hancock | ADDLibrarian Trackback on August 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm

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