young white woman with brown hair in pigtail buns clutches her cheeks in terror saying "What have I done?"

Rookie Amateur Mistake = Opportunity, Right?

Karin Kallmaker Business of Books, Cowboys and Kisses 2 Comments

I messed up. Making a rookie amateur mistake is generally not a good thing when you’ve been around as long as I have, but it ended up being a good thing. At least I think so.

It has to do with books and how they’re printed. Specifically, all the magic behind making color that’s true and stays true whether a book is printed in the USA, India, or (eventually, right?) on Mars.

Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, blacK = CMYK

There’s a lesson I learned a very long time ago about the difference between computer screens and printing presses. What you can see on the former can’t be reproduced on the latter. It’s all about how color is processed by each device. Here’s an approximation of the difference between RGB and CMYK with the basic colors of red, green, and blue.

side by side example of red, green, and blue color swatches processed by RGB versus CMYK

A printing press produces color by layering cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) in successive passes through the press. That brings an undeniable depth to art you see on book covers. Thing is, a printing press can’t produce a cover from an image designed for colors on red-green-blue devices (like most computer screens). It must be converted to CMYK first.

CMYK tends to be darker, perhaps more vibrant when the layers are done. People who do a lot of print processing have Pantone color books like this one that show precise mixes of color on both coated and uncoated papers. The coding is how different presses anywhere in the world can produce identical results.

Pantone process color swatches ranging from green to red

I knew all this. Have known it since 1987. Did I check the CMYK rendering of the digital cover of Cowboys and Kisses, with its soft tracings of blue, subtle shades of white, and bold coppery-leather-embossed pattern in the typeface?

No. No I did not.

That Wasn’t My Only Mistake

I also thought Cowboys and Kisses, a historical romance, would not interest enough readers to make a print version feasible. Wrong again, and so happy to be! I can also commit to the time for an audio version, woohoo! Happy dancing!

But you know what’s coming, right?

As soon as I toggled the original cover to CMYK for printing I knew I was going to have to change it. And not just a little bit. Change it completely, because orange ranges from peach to copper became variations of brown.

Not a good brown, like shiny chocolate or smoky topaz. It was a brown that declared all that’s good and colorful in the world has dissolved in motor oil, and it’s what’s for dinner for the rest of your life.

The wood grain lost its depth and texture as the additional black layer muddied the blue tones. There was no way to adapt it to print that still pleased me.

Just a few weeks after release it was back to the drawing board. It’s a good thing that challenges are often opportunities in disguise! Here’s the new cover as designed correctly for the paperback, and now appears in all versions of the eBook as well.

print edition cover of Cowboys and Kisses by Karin Kallmaker. Woman in black dress holds a folded sheaf of old papers with sprigs of lavender

How to Get the New Cover on the eBook You Already Have

Here’s what you need to know if you already purchased the eBook of Cowboys and Kisses and want the new cover.

Bella Books or

Return the site, visit your account, and download new versions of the file type you want. Just replace the previous file with the new version and you’re good to go. (If you like the old cover you don’t have to do a thing.)

All other digital retailers

(Apple, Kobo, Google, Smashwords, Nook, Kindle, et al): The new cover and interior files should automatically appear on your device. If it doesn’t, open the book, turn a couple of pages, exit the book, and close the app. Most users report that the new file will be there when they open the reading app again.

I’m really sorry about the bother this might cause anyone. Check the CMYK, even if I don’t think there will be a print version. I will not forget again!

P.S. In today’s bookselling world, ratings and reviews are everything. Thank you so much for letting other readers know how the book made you feel!

Cover Cowboys and Kisses lesbian romance by Karin Kallmaker. Woman in black dress holds a book of old folded pages and lavender.

Want the Paperback?

If you love feeling the weight of the pages shift from right to left as you turn them or love new book smell, you can get the paperback version of Cowboys and Kisses from the Amazon store you normally order from, or you can order a signed copy from me.

I’m awaiting copies and expect to ship on May 9 or so. USPS Media mail is free.

By the way, The Lesbian Review says, “Highly Recommended!” Their full review is here. (And a last look at the first cover…)

And here’s one of my favorite reader reviews so far:

5-star review that reads "I love historical f/f/romances, which are pretty rare, much to my chagrin, so when I saw that Karin Kallmaker's latest release was set in my favorite time period, I immediately purchased it. I was so drawn in by the story that I tore through it on a Friday and then spent weekend rereading it, slowly this time, so that I could take my time and savor the story as it truly deserved. I did not anticipate that I would be so moved by how she illuminated the realities that most women endured in this time period. It was impossible to not feel my heart ache for plight of the main characters and yet so, so satisfying and cathartic to see that they were allowed to have their happy ending.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for all your love for this story!

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