Changing a book cover and admitting your mistake – CARINA: a case study

CARINA seems to be a fidgety type, just like her namesake main character and has just gone through a transformation similar to the one our heroine goes through in her first story, INCEPTIO.

In 2019, I decided that the Roma Nova series needed a make-over as the prominent eagle motif had been around since 2013. Times had changed. People had changed. Habits and wishes had changed. A fresh approach to the whole series was needed.

Actually, it turned into a bit of a revolution. I also split the stories into two strands within the Roma Nova series: Carina Mitela adventures and Aurelia Mitela adventures. The original numbering was confusing especially as the Aurelia adventures took place several decades are Carina’s.  The learning point was: work out your series before you write the first one.

Of course, it doesn’t always work out like that. I cite the example of C S Lewis’s Narnia books where The Magician’s Nephew (chronologically before The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) was published second to last between The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Last Battle. Another example is Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series which is chronologically all over the place.


For the new covers in 2019, I kept the original colours for each book…
INCEPTIO –  (imperial) purple
CARINA – red-purple
PERFIDITAS – blood-red
AURELIA – forest green
RETALIO – amber

The eagle would stay, of course, but within the design. Read the full story of the agony and the ecstasy of the changeover.

I loved all the bold, new designs featuring a person rather than a motif. I reckoned the Roma Nova brand was strong enough to survive the change and indeed, this had proved to be the case. The series has appealed to, and found, new readers. But I was never quite comfortable with CARINA’s cover colour.

Mea culpa

It was my fault for insisting on a colour between the purple of INCEPTIO and the blood-red of PERFIDITAS. It’s  only taken me nearly two years to realise it just wasn’t working. Publishers change covers all the time to refresh the ‘look’ – commercial reasons –  but I revised this one as I realised I had made a mistake. This was not an easy admission…

Designer Jessica Bell came up with a clever concept; she used the original 2019 photo of the girl with a gun, brought the subdued green of that image to the fore and then blended it with the red-purple of the previous cover for the reverse of the printed version.

And grouped with the other covers for Carina’s adventures – INCEPTIO, PERFIDITAS and  SUCCESSIO – it makes the whole Carina strand of four books look much better balanced.

Covers are crucial for a book’s journey put into the world, especially when it belongs to a series. The new CARINA cover is more positive, shows a determined heroine with a much more pro-active tone, yet retains the original image and the Canadian background. Now I feel much more confident waving CARINA off as she sails off on a new part of her voyage.


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers.

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