A Tale of Two Covers (and a Contest)


screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-8-20-44-amAbout a year and a half ago, I first saw the design for the hardcover edition of my latest book, Pretending to Dance. To say I was blown away is an understatement. I thought the image with that vibrant red dress was stunning. I could feel the movement of that dress, and the woman wearing it came to life for me. But once the book was published, I discovered a problem. “I thought it would be a book about dance,” readers would write to me. Or, “From the cover, I had no idea the book would be a page-turner.”

Hmm. The beauty of the cover and the prettiness of the title, taken together, gave a misleading impression of the story. To be honest, my editor had wanted to change the title before the book was published, but I was adamant that we keep it. The title has great meaning in the story, as those of you who’ve read the book understand. I am usually at a loss when it comes to titles for my book, but I had this one before the book was even written. I was so wedded to the title that  I couldn’t see my editor’s concerns . . . until after the book came out and I began to get that feedback from my readers.

So my publisher made the (very good) decision to change the cover when the book was reissued in paperback this month. Although the title is the same, the girl walking into the dark woods better depicts the suspense and mystery of the story, and I’ve been thrilled with the response from my readers. I was afraid that they would have loved the ‘pretty lady in red’ so much that this darker cover might turn them off. Their reaction has been the opposite. The new cover tells more of a story, and after all, that’s what readers are after. I’m grateful to my editor and publisher for making this change.

What are your thoughts? What does each cover say to you? How important is the cover image to you as a reader? Tomorrow, I’ll randomly pick one of your comments to win your choice of one of my available older novels. If you live outside the US, you’ll win a  gift certificate to the online bookstore of your choice.

Happy reading!


  1. Sandie Smith on October 31, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    I haven’t read the book yet, but if I saw both covers its the girl in the wood that I would pick up first. It has an air of intrigue!

    P.S. My book club have just read Necessary Lies … my choice and it was a huge success.

    • Diane Chamberlain on October 31, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      So glad your group enjoyed it!

    • Elizabeth Jordan on November 1, 2016 at 9:18 am

      Love both covers, but I would pick the white dress in woods first just because it has an “air” of mystery to it. I love to read.

  2. Jill Burkinshaw on October 31, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    I am probably not the best person to ask as I don’t make decisions based on the title or cover more likely the synopsis and occasionally the reviews. However I agree the title: Pretending to Dance is the right title for the book and I love the Red dress cover but having said all that I did read the prequel first so maybe that made a difference.

  3. Jan Dowsett on October 31, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    The red dress cover is pretty and elegant but doesn’t convey the gravitas and poignancy of the story which the second cover does. I love the strength of the trees in the dark setting contrasting with the vulnerability and searching aspect of the girl in the light dress- much more intrigue in this one. And I absolutely love the title. It can be read in so many ways!

    • Diane Chamberlain on November 1, 2016 at 7:22 pm

      Jan, Congratulations, you’re the winner!

  4. Jan Scheithe on October 31, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    I am a new reader to your books. I am so excited to find an new author who writes such interesting and informative books. I have read 4 of your books and can’t wait to read many more.

  5. Amy on October 31, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    I’m very drawn to covers. To be honest, I never liked the first cover and I love the second one. I’m always drawn to books with pictures of children on the front. The reason I didn’t like the first one was because my initial impression was the book was about opulence and a romance,

  6. Pauline Taylor on October 31, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    Hmm, I would say that the cover of a book would draw me towards the book initially, but then the synopsis followed by reading a few pages of the book would determine whether it would be a keeper or not. I read Pretending to Dance with the cover of the girl in the woods on my kindle. I prefer the second cover.

    I have to say though that your books are always keepers!

  7. Wanda Zerangue on October 31, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    I do enjoy a cover that is eye appealing. However, the cover is not the deciding factor for me. There are certain authors, such as yourself, whom I read all the time and am very seldom disappointed in the novel. I look at the author first and then the title and cover. A cover that is slightly misleading would not prevent me from picking up the book because I always read the synopsis first.

  8. Emily on October 31, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    I was also blown away by the first cover. It’s just stunning. It compelled me to pick it up immediately- when I discovered it was also a page turner, I was hooked on your writing (and haven’t stopped reading all of your books!!) ! It’s an interruptive design and it stands out from the other books out there. I like the second cover, as well, but it isn’t quite as compelling to me.

  9. Karla Alderson on October 31, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    I have not yet read this book, and had only seen the red dress cover at that time. I wanted to read it knowing there must be some sort of a dance involved, but not a literal dance. A dance with danger? A dance with death? I don’t know but I know I simply must read it as I am truly intrigued! The cover is an important thing to me and I tend to read more into the picture and title than in a literal way.

  10. Burma Turner on October 31, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    I have read the book and loved it. The girl in the red dress in ok, but the new cover depicts more what the story is about. It looks dark and mysterious! I do pick up books with covers that catch my eye, but that is not the only thing I base my decision on whether to buy or not!

  11. Melba Reid on October 31, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    I like the second cover better, it seems more fitting to your style of writing. I haven’t read this one yet, but am looking forward to it.

  12. Judy Cawley on October 31, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    I loved this story. I was so sad when I finished it.

  13. Carolyn Janzen on October 31, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    I read Pretending to Dance on a cold, rainy day in August. It was a beautiful story and very thought provoking as well.

  14. Lisa on October 31, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    I have read most of your books and loved every single one of them, including pretending to dance! I think both covers are beautiful in their own way. And I especially love the title, it fits just perfectly! Greetings from Germany ☺ Lisa

  15. Kristin Blais on October 31, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    I absolutely loved reading this book. I’m glad I bout it with the red dress though. I would have read it either way because you are one of my favorite authors. TO tell the truth I do buy a book because of the cover!

  16. Shannon on October 31, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    Since it is a mystery definitely the second cover!

  17. Corey Ann on October 31, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    I’ve read the novel and while I do adore the red dress cover, I do agree that it doesn’t quite capture the story within. The wooded picture captures the essence of the story beneath the cover MUCH better.

  18. Bonnie Franks on October 31, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    The red dress cover is beautiful. The other cover better conveys the story itself.

  19. Laurie Truesdell on October 31, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    The cover with the red dress captures your attention with the vivid colors, but I can see how the second cover shows that there is a mystery to be had within those covers.

  20. Yvonne on October 31, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    For some reason i love the red dress. It catches the eye more and leaves more intrigue. Covers usually dont matter much but the red really stands out.

  21. Barbara Evans on October 31, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    I buy all your books! And your UK version with a different cover came out first so that is the one I had to have! Can’t wait for your next to come out!

  22. shirley kerr on October 31, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Read it in the UK and certainly prefer the new cover as it clarifies and gives a picture to that special place. But like all your books the twists and unexpected bits meant I wasn’t left disappointed with the original cover or anything like that .I enjoy introducing the readers in Northern Ireland to your work.

  23. Susan C on October 31, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    I can’t believe it has been a YEAR since I read Pretending to Dance! I gave it (4) stars on Goodreads and here is my review:

    This book captivated me from the get-go. Molly is a San Diego lawyer hoping to adopt a baby with her perfect husband, Aiden. What she hasn’t told Aiden is about her somewhat scarred childhood in North Carolina on the family compound, Morrison Ridge, or, the truth about her mother, father and birth mother. It all comes together at the end (of course) when Molly comes clean to her husband and reconnects with her mother, Nora, who embraces her wholeheartedly.

    I love the new paperback over and recommend the book to everyone!

  24. eileen curinga on October 31, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    I like both covers but agree that the second one depicts the story better.
    Maybe the red dress cover will inspire your next book!

  25. Melody B on October 31, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    The cover, title and/or author is what draws me to a book. But then, it’s the synopsis and reviews that helps me decide if I want to read it or not.

    To be honest, I preferred the red dress cover for Pretending to Dance. I just think it’s a bit more original than the paperback cover (although I like both covers). I’ve never seen a cover similar to the hardcover one, whereas I have seen a “girl in the woods” cover before. The cover/title didn’t lead me to think the story was a romance or about dancing…

    I haven’t read the book, but I can’t wait to read it ! 🙂

  26. Julia Kerr on October 31, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    I am interested to see whether you are going to change the English cover, and as its different to the American cover I’m also interested in the feedback on the original English version

    I found it really interesting hearing about why the cover has changed and your views on the different covers. I agree that the title should remain the same

    If it’s an author I already like then the cover doesn’t influence me, but if it’s a new author then a good cover could catch my eye and make me want to turn it over to read the blurb.

    I don’t tend to read too much in to a title, so even if I didn’t know your writing style I wouldn’t have assumed it was more about dance than it actually is, but I can see how that could happen

    • Diane Chamberlain on October 31, 2016 at 10:34 pm

      The UK Pretending to Dance cover stayed the same in hardcover and paperback. It is very different from the US cover, which is always the case. Different covers appeal to different markets.

  27. Christy on October 31, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    I really don’t look at book covers when I decide to read a book. I’m more apt to pick up a book because I follow the author. I have a few select favorites, and I’ll read anything they write! I do read reviews on books a lot! I will leave reviews also on the books I’ve read on good reads, amazon, etc. I’ve read and heard a lot of good things about Pretending to Dance, and I can’t wait in devour it!

  28. Caroi R on October 31, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    I’m ashamed to say that this is the first I’ve heard of this book. Ashamed because I try to keep up with releases of favorite authors; I failed this time. If I were just shopping an unknown author, the girl in the wood would be the hook to make me look closer.

    • Diane Chamberlain on October 31, 2016 at 10:36 pm

      Carol, I hope you’ll sign up for my newsletter so you’ll always know when I have a new book out!

  29. Elizabeth Irion on October 31, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    Honestly, for me, either cover would have worked for me because I have all of your books. But if I had to chose one I would be most intrigued by the young girl going into the woods. I think the picture asks several guestions that I would want answered so I would be compelled to read the book. Having said that, I love the red dress in the first book. I think that cover is stunning.

  30. Donamae Kutska on November 1, 2016 at 1:57 am

    The girl in the woods is mysterious and makes me want to read it. The red dress not so much.

  31. Tanya @ Mom's Small Victories on November 1, 2016 at 8:21 am

    I’m drawn to the cover with the red dress though i see how the art might be misleading, still the title makes sense once you’ve read it.I still love the red dress cover.

  32. Barbara Khan on November 1, 2016 at 8:29 am

    I have not read this book, but have had many book friends recommend it. When I see the cover with the red dress it makes me think historical fiction or romance. The title and cover together do not seem to be thriller or mystery. The new cover draws me in. I love thrillers. It’s got that gothic vibe. I’d love to win, so I can see what all my friends are raving about.

  33. Cindy Walker on November 1, 2016 at 9:18 am

    I agree – the red dress cover looks like it would be about dance. I love the cover with the trees – it just makes me want to pick it up and start reading. Good choice. I have not read it and so look forward to it. I just finished The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes and I dearly loved it!! Can’t wait to read more of your books….

  34. Theresa Kelly on November 1, 2016 at 9:45 am

    The cover on the left is very pretty but the one on the right definitely gives more of a sense of mystery and suspense. Love your books.

  35. Barbara Abramowitz on November 1, 2016 at 10:30 am

    I like the second, newer one!

  36. Kate Cline on November 1, 2016 at 10:37 am

    I haven’t read the book yet, but if I saw both covers its the girl in the wood that I would pick up first. It just makes me want to see what it’s about.

  37. Ronda Six Garnett on November 1, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Love the red dress cover!!! But covers don’t draw me in…lol..I read anything 🙂

  38. Grace Miller on November 1, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    I like both covers, but I was drawn to the girl in the white dress in the woods. It has more of a mystery about it. I haven’t read this book yet but can’t wait to get my hands on it. I love your books!!!

  39. Ola K Norman on November 1, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    I would choose the one with the white dress over the other one. The cover is what draws me to a book first.

  40. Diane Chamberlain on November 1, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    The winner is Jan Dowsett. Thanks to all of you for the wonderful comments. They really helped me see through a readers’ eyes.

  41. Deborah Russo on November 3, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Huge fan of your writing and can’t wait to read this book!! I like both covers but agree the redid eye catching. Just got finished reading The secret life of CeeCee Wilkes and The Silent Sister and LOVED both!

  42. Alana on November 5, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    I listened to this audiobook and I think the girl in the woods would be a better cover but do like them both

  43. Gordon Cope on November 18, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    I find the cover with the girl in white very evocative of mystery. I recently learned it takes a lot of talent and experience to create a good cover. For authors who want to learn more, here’s a link to a blog written by cover designer Derek Murphy. It’s a very interesting discussion about how publishers use fonts, colors, images and layout to entice readers.


    All the best, Gordon Cope

  44. Kris on December 13, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    I’ve always seen the colour red as having a deeper, more intense feeling to it. When I bought this book that red dress made stop and wonder, I mean there’s a reason so many people react to the colour red. All in all, what’s written inside is more powerful than the cover, most books I read I don’t even pay any mind to the cover. Regardless of which cover people prefer, this novel was amazing, just like all of your other novels I’ve read. There is a reason you are my favourite author!

  45. molly mattinson on September 24, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    For me i was intrigued by the title. I picked my copy up from a charity shop and if didn’t have the covers in it i think the previous reader must have lost the paper cover. However after reading a few of your books it was the title that drew me to it. I was hooked within the first chapter and must have read it within two days me and young Molly lead very similar lives ironically same name too. I loved reading Molly’s story. Great novel 🙂 ***** all the way

  46. Robyn Metzger on April 16, 2019 at 2:45 am

    I had already read 4 of your books when I came across Pretending to Dance in the library ( Red dress cover) This book totally absorbed me. I have enjoyed all of your books I have read and look for your name, but this book I could especially relate to. My brother died a few years ago, he had Multiple Sclerosis and a teenage daughter. Previous to this when my children were early teens, my husband ( who had a terminal illness) begged me to help him die. You portrayed so very well the dilemma and trauma for those in this situation who love the person who is suffering, the person who begs them for help. The guilt and anger (whatever decision is made) lives with the survivor(s) forever because it is an illegal act which cannot be talked about. Thank you for a very well written portrayal of a subject often hidden.

    • Diane Chamberlain on April 16, 2019 at 8:16 am

      I’m so sorry for all your family has been through. I think this is a far more common situation than we know, and I hope our laws continue to catch up to our needs.

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