The Secret Kings Cover Test Results

A - B testing on the proposed covers for The Secret Kings, Soul Cycle Book III has concluded. I'd like to express my deep appreciation for everyone who took the time to vote. Marcelo gave us a difficult choice with his three fantastic cover sketches, but in the end only one can be my third novel's front cover.

The Secret Kings cover sketches

After three intense rounds of voting, I'm honored to announce that your front cover of Soul Cycle Book III is:

The Secret Kings cover sketch
Cover 3
Now, I'm in a bit of a quandary because of voting patterns in the tests. Although Cover 3 won both the second and third rounds, it only took round 3 by a single vote. Also, Cover 2 received a higher total number of votes than Cover 3 across the first and third rounds, in which Cover 2 was a contender.

What this tells me is that, while Cover 3 is the voters' favorite, Cover 2 has a significant following. Many voters with design and publishing backgrounds also made strong cases in favor of Cover 2.

In light of these circumstances, here is my proposed solution:

The Secret Kings front and back covers
Back/front cover spread
Past Soul Cycle books have all had wraparound covers. But since democracy is all about compromise, I'll ask Marcelo to finalize Covers 2 and 3, making them the back and front cover for SK respectively. It's the most elegant solution, in my opinion.

Thanks again to everyone who participated. My beta readers report that they are working diligently to generate feedback on SK's second draft, and there's just one book ahead of mine in Jagi's editing queue. Marcelo also assures me that finalizing the cover won't take long. All of this means that we're right on schedule for a Christmas season release.

Which also means you've still got time to buy and read the first two books in the Soul Cycle.


UPDATE: Since posting the results of round 3, it's been suggested that retesting the covers with text added might very well yield different results than previous tests of the clean versions. Because my goal is to determine the most effective cover, I must take this new information into account.

Short version: It's time for a lightning round!

This time it's for keeps. Which cover do you like best?

The Secret Kings covers 1, 2, & 3 text

UPDATE 2: Lightning Round results:
  1. Cover 3 with 11 votes
  2. Cover 2 with 5 votes
  3. Cover 1 with 3 votes
Interestingly, putting the versions with the title and byline to a vote galvanized support for Cover 3. In light of these results, I will go ahead with the plan outlined above to have Marcelo finalize Cover 3 as the front cover and Cover 2 as the back cover. I'll also pass along the formatting changes suggested by D.J. and Jeff in the comments.

I appreciate everyone's kind indulgence during the testing phase. Thanks to you, we can expect The Secret Kings to have the most successful launch of any Soul Cycle book.


  1. Oh. I like this.

    And the contrast would allow for text to be on the back without distracting too much from the visual elements.

    What were vote totals in each round? I admit to being curious.

    1. Round I
      Cover 1: 32, Cover 2: 23

      Round II
      Cover 1: 7, Cover 3: 19

      Round III
      Cover 2: 9, Cover 3: 10

  2. At the risk of sounding like a broken LP, well, let me say this: MAKE YOUR NAME BIGGER. I think it was in larger type in the first two volumes. It doesn't have to be centered on the artwork. Consider right-aligning the byline text box with the title text box, and then making your byline as large as will fit between the bubble in the LL cover and the right margin.

    I agree with your earlier commenter that Cover B will make a dandy back cover, with the text inside the stargate or whatever that is. I hadn't thought of that. First rate.

    1. Your advice is always appreciated and carefully considered, Jeff. Please never hesitate to offer it!

      Keep in mind, I don't format the covers. That's all Marcelo. But I will pass your feedback on to him.

      Thanks :)

  3. I like Cover 3 as well. Good choice!