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Cover (Re)Design for The Brim Reaper

In this installment in my cover design series, we're looking at The Brim Reaper, Samantha Kidd Mystery #3. Some history on Samantha and the series: Samantha Kidd is a former fashion buyer who has moved back to her old hometown with the goal of redesigning her life. Her passion is fashion, and that, combined with her radical curiosity, puts her front and center to mysteries with a stylish angle. Her hometown of Ribbon, PA, is turning out to be something of a Cabot Cove, as she is up to fourteen mysterious murderous capers and only one of them has been out of town!

In The Brim Reaper, Samantha is employment-challenged, and is helping her friend Eddie with a at exhibit at the local museum. She's also helping sexy shoe designer Nick get his new showroom ready for business, and her misguided idea for not appearing too flirty at work is to wear menswear.

The main thing about this series is Samantha's love of clothes and how she uses them to define herself all while evolving into the confident woman she's meant to be. (She doesn't know she does this. We know she does this.) So, aside from 2021 when I did a graphic redesign with no image of Samantha on the cover, the objective here is to convey Samantha as a stylish character.

Making Samantha Kidd covers brings out my inner Barbie/Fashion-Plate/Colorforms-playing child! Here's the evolution of this cover:

  1. When I first went with this overall style, I liked the graphic quality, but I redid twelve covers at that time. After sitting with the one with the purple bowtie, I just didn't like it as much as I could. I wanted to get a hat on the cover, since the book has to do with a millinery exhibit at the local museum, so I created the cover in the center. I thought it had a nice Audrey Hepburn element to it ("How do I look?") but sales took a downturn from book 2 to book 3, which is a pretty good signifier that the cover isn't doing its job.

  2. I thought about returning to the cover on the left, but before doing so, I took another pass at it and started the image on the right.

  3. On a whim, I started playing with the color of the suit. It was going to be a shade of green, but when I clicked on "difference" in the color overlay panel on Photoshop, the green shade turned this cherry pink---WHICH. I. LOVE.

  4. I didn't love the bowtie on the girl in the original image, so I took half of the big purple bowtie, turned it 90 degrees, and used it as a fat scarf/necktie. I had to add collar points, too.

  5. I gave her the same sleek bun-style that is on the center cover, just moved the bun to the right instead of the left.

  6. Samantha has the same face on every cover, so I dropped her face on to this one and adjusted her skin tone on her neck to match.

  7. This series doesn't always have a mystery element to the cover, but now that I'm looking at it here, I could see a skull either pinned to her lapel or as a tie-tack.

I'm very pleased with how this cover turned out; it's now among my favorites. But the proof will be in the pudding, as I keep an eye on the book's sales performance.

The images came from The typeface came from


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