Lyon's Pen

Official Website for Fantasy Author E.L. Lyons

New Cover For Starlight Jewel

Starlight Jewel has a new cover!

The same artist (Samantha Slaughter) and graphic designer (Shane Phillips) did both this cover and the first, but the change was needed. Why?

Motivations

A lot of folks were assuming that Starlight Jewel was a romantasy, and I can assure you, it is not a romantasy. It does not even qualify as a fantasy romance really. 8/48 chapters have a romance focus in them, and the romance is… not the sort of romance that romance readers are looking for. Other chapters touch on the romance but focus on the many other aspects of the book.

SJ’s romance does not have the sort of dramatic touch-her-and-die lines or enemies-to-lovers tropes. Which is not to say that there is no depth or feeling to the romance, I believe there is, but it’s really not as prominent an aspect of the book as the other character dynamics present like the societal and familial ones.

The romance aspect also does not feature a happily ever after, which most romantasy readers agree is an essential aspect of the genre (though there are outliers). There is a dark, twisted fairytale aspect to the book, but that ranges from Cinderella to King Arthur to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I like Easter eggs, what can I say? I also like to take perfectly sweet stories and ruin them.

Starlight Jewel is first and foremost an epic fantasy novel, and secondly a dark fantasy novel, maybe thirdly fantasy drama, and then finally, maybe, a fantasy romance—though by no means a romantasy.

So back to the cover. Why did it give romantasy vibes?

The folks making the cover had not yet read the book. And the author, me, had never read a romantasy book, and was only vaguely aware of the genre’s existence at the time. We were a bit clueless between the three of us, so there was a lot we didn’t take into consideration:

  • Having two people on the cover in non-hostile poses
    • We had no idea this might suggest romance. In retrospect, it’s obvious. It doesn’t matter that Roarik is a monster. Monster romance and Beauty and the Beast retellings are very popular. This cover gives those vibes.
  • FMC in a dress with her hair down
    • Again, we really didn’t think this through. This gives regency romance vibes, which isn’t entirely unjustified. The FMC is an assassin/thief who often disguises herself as nobility to steal from or kill the rich—that’s why we put her in a dress. So there are a few scenes where she is in a regency setting, not many, but a few. Game of Thrones also has some regency settings, mind you. So we didn’t think this would be an issue. But when a woman is in a dress with a monster and has no weapons and doesn’t look hostile… that really looks a lot more romancey than political thriller. It doesn’t say assassin-in-disguise, it just says princess. And Axly is much closer to being a high-class prostitute than a princess.
  • No setting, no time period, no tone
    • Having silhouettes without a background was a minimalistic, artistic choice that I love still, but it is limiting in a way. Having a background can give readers a lot of setting and time period and tone information. So when you don’t have one, you have to be creative. Since my cover team hadn’t read the book, and I didn’t know what I was doing, we didn’t use those silhouettes creatively enough. Hinting at tone, setting, and time period is important.

All around, this new cover signals the genre information much more accurately and will hopefully lead to less DNFs and more of the target audience picking the book up and finishing it.

More Thoughts from the Pen

The Eyes

The Eyes

If you enjoyed this silly backstory of a very good boy, feel free to review it on LibraryThing if you have an account: Backstory of the Esteemed Officer Cleatus (Starlight Jewel) by E.L. Lyons | LibraryThing