The Evolution of a Book’s Cover Design

Today marks the 4th birthday of Spirit of the Dragon! Woah, I can hardly believe that four years ago today, I officially became a published author. It’s been a wild ride with highs and lows, bumps and turns, but what’s stayed true from the very beginning is my love for the stories I’ve written and continue to write. And that all started with Spirit of the Dragon.

But you probably didn’t know that Spirit of the Dragon wasn’t always Spirit of the Dragon. The book has a bit of history behind it! So for Spirit of the Dragon‘s birthday this year, I thought it would be fun to talk about how the book has evolved over the years. Namely, the most obvious change… the cover!

Way back in 2019, Spirit of the Dragon was briefly called Ramshackled, and was actually a novella and not a whole novel. The 4 books in what eventually became the Yokai Calling series were supposed to be short pre-stories leading up to the release of the Wyvern Wars Saga, but when I finished The Dragon’s Eye and started on book 3, I realized that the story I had dreamed up was definitely not going to fit into the novella format. The books were too complicated, multi-pov, and already creeping toward novel length in book 2.

So I ended up committing to making them novels instead of novellas… and at the same time, decided to change up the covers around each of the new milestone updates for the books, trying to bring everything closer to my vision one step at a time.

Of all the books in the series, The Dragon’s Eye actually has the least dramatic changes. From early cover to what’s currently live today, The Dragon’s Eye has used pretty much the same image, but with some different photo editing and spruced-up typography. Even when the content of the book was significantly reworked around 2020, I couldn’t part with this cover! I think it does a great job of representing the feeling of facing off against a powerful, dark, almost nameless foe… but with that spark of hope and colour written into the landscape.

Spirit of the Dragon isn’t the only book in the Yokai Calling series that was retitled after publication! Although Twisted Sight was never published and this is the first time I’m sharing the very original cover that never got used for book 3 in the Yokai Calling series, A Dragon’s Curse as it is currently titled was originally published as A Dragon’s Sight. While I believe the “sight” was more accurate in terms of what’s going on with the story, I felt like a “dragon’s curse” was easier to understand and conceptualize at a glance, so it made sense to change the title from a marketing standpoint, and I’m very happy that I did. 🙂

Unlike Spirit of the Dragon and The Dragon’s EyeA Dragon’s Curse was written as a novel from the very beginning. So while when I later updated the series in 2021, there were only ever minor edits made to this book to keep things consistent across the series. The story is almost exactly as I envisioned it when I first started writing!

Similar to A Dragon’s Curse, the original title and book cover for Blood of Dragons was never released. I liked the Dragon titles more and couldn’t quite achieve the effects that I wanted with the single-word titles, so that’s what I went with and I think it was the right move for the series. Like with The Dragon’s Eye and A Dragon’s Curse, you can see the evolution of the cover over time, with not that much different between them after the shift away from the original cover.

Likewise, Blood of Dragons never received any major edits once the series was updated in 2021. I think the most I changed was adding a few paragraphs to a place that I thought needed some more dialogue, and then I split some of the chapters around the climax which were about 6-7k words each into multiple chapters instead of the longer ones, haha.

With the exception of the current Spirit of the Dragon cover, I designed all of the covers here myself. Is that a good thing? Not necessarily. I had fun doing it, but I’m not a cover designer and maybe my author career would have been a little less bumpy so far if I’d gone to a pro from the start. But like all good things, you must start somewhere, and figure things out along the way! I’ve always thought about giving the rest of the Yokai Calling series one last cover update to match Spirit of the Dragon, but things didn’t quite end up that way.

But who knows. Maybe in a few years!

Haven’t checked out the Yokai Calling series yet? Take a peek at the omnibus edition, with all 4 books in 1! See it in stores here.

—Erynn

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