New Covers

Okay. Promised to show you the new book covers.

Deep breath… here they are, live from today:

20150406 New Covers


A flavor of detective noir… a consistency of imagery… a boldness and simplicity of design to stand out on Amazon.

So what do you think?


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About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first books are available on Amazon at

32 responses to “New Covers”

  1. Lincoln brown says :

    I like the old covers better.

  2. Perry says :

    Fail… The new covers are not an improvement. I love the books, but those covers would not have caught my attention. Sorry.

  3. Dee says :

    STUNNING!!! The type that creates interest.

  4. elkwood says :

    not feeling the new covers. I prefer the current ones

  5. jonnah says :

    Kind of film noir goes retro feeling. Fits well with the detective side of the books and looks good, but I have to say I would probably skip the books in the amazon based on these covers, as I would think the genre is something else than urban fantasy.

  6. Robert says :

    I’m also a little dubious about the covers. BUT … I actually think it’s a really easy fix (if you want to try and aren’t too upset by the negative reactions).

    The real problem is not the cover art itself, so much as the text. In fact I would post the cover art without the text and see what people think (and how you could improve the art).

    As for the text, I think the colours are too modern. Your name and “An Amber Farrell Novel” is just too bright in yellow. (It has a little too much of a children’s book feel).

    I can see the “Creatures from the Swamp” 50’s magazine cover retro styling, but the bright (sort of) pastel colours of the title don’t make it feel updated, just jarring. I also think that the text is just a bit too large – not a bad thing on Amazon where sometimes titles can be hard to read (when downloading on the Kindle), but it doesn’t quite work for me.

    Frankly I think that if you toned or muddied everything (well, the text anyway) down a little you would have a much better reception. (I’m not sure if I’m wild about the back slanted lettering either – but I can’t tell how it would look with “older” colours).

    One last thing … the massive snake in the Hidden Trump cover seems a little out of context and very different compared to the shadowy figures in the other covers (which actually work OK I think).

  7. Law says :

    Very nice. Consistent branding, dynamic poses, and a much more unique look than the previous, which were a bit ‘standard urban fantasy’. My favorite bit is the blindfold on the bird in the last image. The yellow text does seem out of place with the color scheme

  8. Mark Henwick says :

    Thanks for these so far! Keep ’em coming! For OR against.

    The blindfold bird represents the Altau statue of the Hidden Path that Skylur surrendered to Correia in exchange for House Tarez (Skylur’s old friend who is now in based in Los Angeles).

    There is one tiny missing element – a wolf shadow on the moon for SoH. When Gideon & Sophie return from New York, that will be added and I’ll have a look at playing with title colors and so on.

    The snake is from the symbol of ZK, the biker gang. Their actual tattoo is twinned snakes with their fangs framing the biker’s shoulders. I think I may get a frown added for the snake on the cover to make it look more vicious. I know what you mean about it not being quite the same as the shadowy wolf & eagle.

    All of which is not to say I’m committed to these. I’ll give them a run and review and report back in my posts here. Sales is the final arbiter!

  9. I am not her says :

    The new covers are not good. The current covers are better than the new ones. The new covers don’t match with the type of stories that make up the bite back series. Noir is not a word I would use to describe the series. You need covers that visually describe the series. Good covers for the series should use imagery that hints at words like vampire, native american, shifter, modern magic, action, strong female character. Uniformity is nice in covers but it’s more important that the cover art be good and appropriate for the book it’s representing.

  10. Lane says :

    I think they’re terrific!
    Yes, a very Noir look, but with an otherworldly feel. Perfect for these novels.

  11. artbatista says :

    I don’t know, I think the old covers called my attention more. I read the first book back then because the cover attracted me on Amazon.

    Maybe it’s because I have already read all the books, I kinda became attached to them.


  12. Jason says :

    Ok, I like them in a very abstract way but I feel they could use some softening, not sure if that makes sense I really liked the pictures of Amber on the old covers especially the one with her hair blowing in the wind. I don’t see the eagle statue being the prime representation of Cool Hand, if anything it should be the Wolf or a Dragon. I see the idea behind the Wolf on Wild Card but not sure if the Snake is the best thing for Hidden Trump, but I probably need to read them again to given a correct reason for this. Overall I think it is definitely Dective Noir, so I guess it depends on what you are marketing it for, but since I don’t read those kind of books very often, I would have to say I prefer the old covers, but then again I am already a fan of them.
    What you need to do is ask someone who HAS NOT read them get their impressions of what works or doesn’t especially if they are your demographic/target audience. Note I am a sucker for kick butt female characters and I would not get that interest from these covers, but maybe its just that I am a guy and like the female form on the cover. It seems to work with a lot of urban fantasy. Remember the Sensor series cover changes, I liked those. Hope these ramblings help, good luck!

  13. wiggiemomsi says :

    Mark … I LIKE the covers! I know it’s hard for people to let go of what they’re used to, but congrats on forging into new territory with the covers and colors. I keep coming back to look at them, and am liking them more and more each time. Nice job! :o)

  14. Moritz Walter says :

    these covers are certainly something diffrent. But I wouldn’t have picked up your books with these covers quite as fast, since i mostly find books because the cover looks interesting and makes me take a second look or if they are recommended to me.

  15. Sarah L says :

    I really really like the covers Mark! In fact I’d go as far as to say I love them! I think they suit the books well and I find them very visually attractive. I have a thing about covers, I’m fascinated with them and always interested to see the wheres and whys in authors covers. If I saw these on Amazon they would definitely catch my eye, my only concern is will people know immediately that they are urban fantasy? However having said that covers seem to be doing something really interesting these days, led largely by the Indie folks as they have more control over their covers. Some of the worst covers out there are big names as they are controlled by big publishers based on what they thing the reader wants. I also dislike misrepresentation. The book I finished last night had a sword wielding leather clad girl on the front. Not once does she wield a sword or wear leather! Your books are honest and catching and have that something extra about them. It lifts them a little I think. I also love the honesty and integrity of your other fans! Great discussion. I agree with Jason above, be interesting to see what people with no links to your books think.

    On another note you must be getting excited to see your daughter appear in GoT so very soon. I saw a Facebook link to some new characters and she was up, she looks totally awesome, you must be one very proud Dad!

    • Mark Henwick says :

      I cannot tell a lie, a lady in leather on the cover makes me interested enough to read the sample. If I went ahead and bought the book and found no leather clad lady inside, it would bias me against that author. (I know that’s unfair to standard published authors as they have little to do with what goes on the cover).

      Yes, the countdown to GoT is on. Jessica doesn’t appear until later. I will be posting!

  16. Janine says :


    I like the art of the new covers but I agree the color and font of the lettering is slightly off putting. Maybe its my monitor colors but the colors are too (looking for the right word here) fru fru, effeminate, interior designer? – they’re not colors that i associate with Amber. Maybe for Slight of Hand use a dark green like her dress from the party – or a more army green? Each book has a signature pivotal scene and each of them has a “color”. Anyway, that’s just my two cents. I’ll always buy your books, the cover art is a non-issue.

  17. larry says :

    ‘covers not all that appealing, a bit retro, and flat…
    Covers w/Maria Askew center & focus on Amber — de-emphasis may not be where you want to go.

  18. Richard A says :

    sorry Mark, I like the last couple covers better. artistically these are old school detective meets urban fantasy but the simple profile and background suite the books better.

    the books are an Amber Farrell novel, the new covers are an Amber Farrell paranormal investigation.

    my humble opinion

  19. Mark Henwick says :

    Lots to think about here! Thank you all for your input.

    Some modifications are already in the list.
    1. The first isn’t so much a modification as Jessica’s original specification which didn’t make it to the current version, and which I didn’t understand until I saw what she was trying to emulate. Go to Google images and type “Byzantium cover” and you will see what the yellow writing is *supposed* to look like.
    2. The SoH cover will get a small shadow of a wolf on the moon.
    3. HT snake will get angry.
    4. The ‘n’/’N’ for ‘novel’ will get consistent!

    At the same time, I’m going to try and set up a photo session with Maria and get shots for SoH and HT that have the focus and impact of WC and CH. Then I will have two sets of very different covers, but ones that I’m happy with.

    I’m going to watch what happens in the sales and I guess that will be the ultimate arbiter of which is better.

  20. Allison Angier says :

    Mark, I am so happy to see emails from you since I signed up earlier this year after thoroughly enjoying Sleight of Hand in audiobook format. Any plans to release the rest of the series on Audible?

    I am struggling with my thoughts about the proposed new covers. They are so very different from the old covers, which I admit, I did not care for. But these have problems, too.

    The strongest image is the third one (Wild Card). The shape is intensely intriguing. In fact, I would consider deleting the paw prints, which, being so literal, detract from the mystery of the image.

    The image on the fourth cover, Cool Hand, has a lot of continuity with the third (WC). In fact, the artist has clearly mastered some very cool transparency effects. The use of complimentary colors (red and green) are masterfully done.

    The weakest image is #2 (Hidden Trump). The pink(!) snake doesn’t come anywhere close to the cool geometry of the other designs, which pop against the background of the spherical moon. The thoughtfully rendered overlays of #3 and #4 are much more nuanced pieces of artwork. I’m going to be very frank with you here, the snake looks like clip art. Frowny snake is not going to fix that, either. And for that matter, why is one of his eyes the size of a dinner plate and the other one is the size of a nickel?

    #1 The kerning (OF ___HAND) makes me cringe. And I hate the hot cartoony colors on #1 and #2.

    Taken as a whole, I really like the way the images are related to one another, as a book series should be. However, I have to say that I am terribly concerned about these. Although there is no doubt that the artwork would stand out compared to others on an Amazon or Audible page, my warnings to you are:

    1. They do not represent the genre or hint at the type and quality of the story. If I was shopping for urban fantasy with a better heroine than Anita, Jane, and all those other whatsherfaces combined and saw these, I might click #3 and #4 to see what was inside, but never #1 and #2 with those hot pink colors. And for that matter, what does any of this have to do with metaphorical “cards” titles?

    2. Picky detail: “An Amber Farrell novel/Novel/novel/Novel” is brighter than the tile of the book. I would go with capitalizing Novel and put in a muted tone, perhaps pulled from the colors in the moon.

    3. The colors! and gradients! and slant! of the titles effects are quite anachronistic.

    I think this is my final conclusion and concern, Mark: These really do look anachronistic. The title effects were fresh in the 90’s. I would recommend, at the very least, to get rid of the perspective transformations and cartoony color gradients of the titles.

    And ditch the LOLSnake. I’ll bet your talented artist can come up with something as intriguing and as well done as the eagle.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Very interesting and detailed, thank you Allison. I’m taking all of this on board!


      Kimberly has had Hidden Trump for a while and I have been promised some chapters *soon*. I’m not going to make a prediction for the release date until I’m sure.

      As soon as Hidden Trump is done, she’ll get Wild Card. At that point, the time to produce will be partly the length of the text and partly that Kimberly will have to keep other clients happy!

      I guess I hope the audio versions catch up the ebooks within the next year.

      • Allison Angier says :

        Thank you for your reply, Mark, and for the good news that Kimberly is working on HT. I thought her performance of SoH was stellar, and I am thrilled to learn that she is busy with projects. I hope she becomes a celebrity in her field.

        I wanted to share with you what I think is one of the most spectacular book covers I have ever seen:

        This is a link to Kristen Painter’s “Blood Rights (House of Comarré)” on Amazon.

        If you click on the cover image and it opens up in the magnified view, WOW. Talk about a cover that makes you want a book. I acquired the entire series on the basis of that one piece of artwork.

        Not only is it incredibly lifelike, but the image is true to the book. The MC actually has long blonde hair and metallic gold tattoos.

        Would I recommend that series to my friends to read? Not to be hurtful to that author, but no I would not. Would I blow up that cover and laminate it to my living room wall? In a nanosecond. It is unforgettable. Poetry for the eyes.

        I think your books are so good, and you have a perfect synchronicity with the ridiculously talented Kimberly, that I want you to hit the trifecta with great covers as well.

        All my very best to you, Mark.

  21. sally moss says :

    Have to say that if I was new to your writing I would run a mile! As some of your commentators have said this does not seem to represent the genre or the story.

    The images are too monumentalist like Stalinist art or something. Too dark and oppressive – Where is Amber in this? Is there not some way you could introduce playing cards with similar motifs but with Amber in the centre/ or front of them.

    On first view, which is likely all you would get, wasn’t at all sure what SoH was about, HT looks like a comic book, WC looks like a mountain – at least CH looks like an eagle.

    This is a series about Amber a strong female protagonist and her growing band of fellow travellers moving towards a common goal. None of that is obvious from the covers and yet that is what you want us to invest in. Truism I know but that is why romances have couple on the front embracing – you know straightaway what you are getting. Your series is about Amber finding herself, but she is not small and weak or oppressed as the art might suggest but strong – she has fought to get where she is – that is the attraction of the story.

    Incidentally I did not like your recent short story – it was the most misery-making of the whole collection and would have put me off reading you. I read to escape not to participate in someone else’s depression, was disappointed to hear you were going to concentrate on short story part 2 and Bian’s tale – so let me know when you get back to the main storyline!

  22. Mark says :

    I started reading the books, because the raw deal cover made me want to read the description, which then made me try the first book… and I thought it was great, so quickly bought the rest, then kept checking about once a week for cool hand.

    Had that book had a cover like these new ones – Personally I would not have read it, Probably off put completely to be honest – For me the problem is the style reminds me of the dreadful sci-fi books I used to see in the library 30 years ago. Line drawing – The poor mans 3d effect on the title …

    I think you want the covers to get peoples interest to find out more – and I know these would not do that for me – There’s no connection to Amber, more cartoon.

    What would I recommend – keep the original covers – have a re-think, come back to them after a few days and ask yourself – do they say “Amber”.

  23. John Li says :

    We polled our responders comparing the old cover to this new one, and they preferred this new one:

    Most mentioned that the new design was more eye-catching and sleeker compared to the original cover. Some still liked the original due to the wolf+girl combo. 🙂

  24. soireadthisbooktoday says :

    You have to be happy Mark… if you are happy, that is what counts. For myself, I like the old covers better – the new ones aren’t, in my opinion, as striking, and look more like children’s books than adult. Honestly? I don’t think they stand out at all – they look more like covers from the 70’s to me.My eyes rolled over these and continued on. But as I said, if you are happy, that is what matters. Hugs, Leiah

  25. smawbvj says :

    To cartoonist. Would not even give these new covers a second look. I would skip them completely and not read what the books were about. The focus of the books are lost with these new covers. There are no influencing factors to draw one to the books themselves, like the picture of Amber that attracted me to the books. These are your books and your decision, but I vote NO GO.

    • Art Batista says :

      What she/he said.

      You’ll always have loyal reader in me, but I think the goal here is to attract new readers to the fold.

      These covers, I would have simply skipped over without a second look.

      These remind me of the MaryJanice Davidson series (Betsy…), but unlike your Amber Farrel books, those covers were oddly in sync with the series theme, being somewhat of a mixed horror/comedy with heavy emphasis on the comedy part.



  26. HarperA. says :

    I’m sorry, but i liked the old covers better, because Maria was so Amber to me – a bellicose beauty, just like the heroine of your books.

  27. Joel Storm says :

    The new covers are bad. Definitely a downgrade. The books are about Amber and her pictures on the front looking out at us are great. Something about the style of the new ones just looks tired and bland. I’ll even say “amateurish”. I do pay more attention to a book’s description and the reviews than to the cover art but these would have given me an unfavorable first impression.

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