Finding Warrior Pose has a cover!
Finding Warrior Pose has a cover!
Learn the back story about what I write about, the book, and how the cover was designed and selected.
Fun Asian Stories: I’m a fiction writer, covering the experience of being Asian American, and Indian American, both in the US and in other places including in India. While everything I write is fiction, it is very much inspired by my personal history, and the fact that I spent so much of my years crossing cultures: raised as an Indian American in Texas and Saudi Arabia and India and Chicago, becoming an adult in New York City, marrying a man from the South, and traveling to 30 countries on 5 continents.
While I've always been a writer, I didn't start crafting real stories until well into my 30's. I tend to write things that are fun and take me out of the headspace of the day to day. My general point of view is: if I'm not having fun writing something, chances are the reader isn't having fun, either. That's why my focus is on writing fun asian stories.
So what is Finding Warrior Pose about?
In Finding Warrior Pose, the protagonist Jaya Gupta, is sent on a quest. The story starts with her in a bit of a pickle, having lost her job and having no real dating prospects, being badgered weekly by her family about her life. When her grandmother uncovers a loose tie to a world-famous yoga ashram back in India, she browbeats Jaya into going. And so, Jaya is off to the yoga ashram for a six month sabbatical. She finds a love interest, meets new friends, and she gets to do some really cool travel to places like Goa. But, she also encounters a great big, supernatural mystery at the yoga ashram, which puts her and her friends' lives in danger, and that sets her off on an adventure across northern India to unravel the source of the mystery, and save herself in the process.
Early readers have said this is a fun and quick read, and the travel adventure of it particularly grabs them – and reminds them of their own travels to locations like Bali, India, and Thailand. That’s why in a way, I’ve come to describe this book as a bit like a cross between Eat Pray Love (the travel and self discovery) with the Da Vinci Code (the uncovering of a secret to solve).
Read on to see how the cover was designed and tested
I found a great visual artist, Matina Korologos at Lutema Photo NYC. She also did the cover of an independent fiction novel called Caligula's Kitchen, written by James Terminiello that I really loved, and part of what stood out was how unique the cover was.
We looked at other authors for inspiration who write from a similar perspective and fiction genre. I was fascinated at the outset by the enormous importance of colors in south asian writers' books. The use of color has meaning in Asian cultures, connoting everything from growth, health, life, marriage, death. I was also intrigued by the use of symbols. Symbols telegraph meaning, and since the cover has to succinctly convey the entirety of the novel and create interest, all in one visual, the choice of symbols to reflect the novel matter.
Here are some of the authors whose covers (and work) inspired me.
Kevin Kwan, for showing with Crazy Rich Asians that yes, stories about Asian culture could be totally entertaining. He's like the grand-father of all of this.
Novels from authors Gus Lee, Jesse Q. Sutanto, Sanjena Sathian, Sonali Dev, and Mia P. Manansala because each of them had aspects of their covers that I really dug, from the use of color, to the use of symbols to tell their stories in a rich and succinct way.
I was also inspired by the book and reading community on instagram, and some of the creators which conjure up the best visuals of how enjoyable it is to be a reader. A few of the feeds and people that stood out are below (though I have to say that there are probably 50 more that I could think of to call out - seriously book bloggers are the best for inspiration).
Picking the key symbols ultimately was how the cover was designed. Working with Matina, she recommended we look at imagery such as yoga and something to convey the places where the novel takes place, NYC and India. We quickly landed on an image of Warrior Pose One in yoga, which aligned to the book's title. We also chose a silhouette style to convey some of the mystery of the lead character getting "lost in" the place she was in.
As a digital and growth marketer, I know that small tweaks can really change the trajectory of what is successful and what is not. I also got a ton of practical tips on testing from Ricardo Fayet and his team at Reedsy who are an awesome resource for all the writers and budding authors out there.
To run the test we ran 5 different cover options as a Facebook test for 5 days, spending $5 a day, with broad targeting to the types of people and interests that would appeal to the novel. In retrospect, I could have spent even less than $5. Even $1 would have been fine!
The covers tested (that didn't win) are below.
The first two were unbelievably cool: juxtaposing the city of NYC and the image of the Empire State Building with a temple from India to show the character's progression from one place to the next.There was also a banyan leaf motif in one of them. Unfortunately, these tested the worst! I'm pretty sure in retrospect that the reason they tested the worst is because they were (1) too detailed and (2) didn't have enough color contrast. In a busy environment with many posts and sponsored posts being shown at you on a screen, they didn't pop.
The second two were also unbelievably cool, and I was obsessed with finding a way to show the character lost inside the image of the New Delhi's Red Fort. I didn't love the orange and green color contrast. I was amazed to see that the option with the thicker green band, the 4th one, tested the best. In retrospect though, I think it tested the best because it (1) had a color contrast and (2) because it showed a frame and some blank space.
So if there are any lessons learned here, I think it's that covers that have some blank space, and some color contrast, are probably going to do better.
And with that, we get to the final cover option, the one that was chosen at the top of the page. I think it has all of what the testing showed worked best: a high color contrast between the purplish maroon and yellow, and a lot of open space. Matina was able to work in subtle imagery of a goddess statue behind the warrior posed woman, which I thought conveys the mystery and depth of the story, without getting too busy.
Finding Warrior Pose publishes May 2022
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