This will be the first in a many-part post (which will happen over several months) about finding my own cover models and doing a custom photo shoot for my future book covers.
It stems from a lovely conversation-in-the-comments the Eight Ladies had with Ron Miller from Black Cat Studios, who designs many (if not all) of Lois McMaster Bujold’s covers. He talked about the creative process and showed us, via a series of links, how he goes from a simple picture of his wife or daughter (frequent models for him) to the final cover.
This and other conversations on various Facebook groups got me thinking that it might be worthwhile to find my own cover models, because here’s the problem in historical romance: there is a lack of original stock photography (assuming one wants a lady or man in proper historical clothing…I could always go for the 80s prom dress look as some authors have done, but that doesn’t suit me). Continue reading
Building a book cover is a complex operation. Finding an image that conveys a suggestion of your plot as well as your book’s tone is difficult. Often several images are needed to get a background in, and depending on what your cover artist is willing to do, sometimes changing elements (like hair color) might not be possible. And then you have to hope that when your designer puts together the image(s) and type that they have the same vision you do.
This yellow cover for my book, Betting on Hope, was designed in 2011. I’ve always liked the image. The book takes place, as the cover shows, in Las Vegas. It’s a romance. It’s light-hearted—essentially a comedy—and while the book is not “about” card playing, poker is the story hook or perhaps theme by which I ramble on about found family and the strength of community.
So I like the expanse of yellow, which gets the mood and desert setting right; the insouciance of the figures; and the relegation of the small single playing card to the corner. I think the image is perfect. On the other hand, I’ve never liked the type treatment.
And that’s the result. Continue reading
We’ve talked about book production and book covers some (here and here), and I’m continuing that conversation by talking about a cover of mine that was particularly hard to pull together. And that was because my protagonist is a garden gargoyle.
First let me tell you that I never wanted to write a story about a gargoyle, garden or otherwise. But my two critique partners got it in their heads that it would be a fun project to write an anthology “about” gargoyles. We could write whatever we wanted. So they dragged me, kicking and screaming, into this abyss.
One of my critique partners, Patricia Simpson, is a Rita-nominated author of gothic romances. Beth Barany writes contemporary romance or fantasy, often for a YA or NA audience. I write light-hearted stories, which sometimes verge on comedy, with a romance angle. So we couldn’t be more different. Continue reading
“The Prisoner of Limnos” came out October 27, 2017! The electrons are still piping hot! (Image by Ron Miller, courtesy of Lois McMaster Bujold)
Lois McMaster Bujold’s new Penric novella, “The Prisoner of Limnos”, came out just Friday, and we’re very pleased to bring you our interview with her about covers – a subject near and dear to our hearts, because every good book is in the need of a cover, eventually.
EMD: For the early Penric covers, I know you asked for fan input about the public domain pictures you used, and I believe you mentioned that your agency helped you with the typography. Before that, did you have much input in the covers of your traditionally published books? What was the most useful piece of advice you got when you were choosing your own covers for the e-publications? What kind of parameters did you use for choosing the public domain pictures? And can you share any websites you found helpful in your search for a cover?
LMB: My input on my traditional-publisher artwork has varied over the years, from none to intense. There seems to be no discernible relationship between the amount of my involvement and the results. I’ve had great covers with no involvement, disappointing covers with lots, and the other way around, apparently at random.
I don’t recall I had much advice when I embarked on doing e-covers years ago with The Spirit Ring. (That would have been back in late 2010.) My helper putting them together could at the time only work with one image, cropping but no photoshopping, so options were limited. I wanted to choose historical paintings for the fantasies, because not only could I see what I was getting, but they were already at a high level of artistic accomplishment. Bad photoshopping/image collage is much worse than none, amateurish and off-putting, and any hint of photography was very wrong for the fantasy mood. As we’ve worked together over the years, my e-wrangler and I have both grown better at sorting through the challenges.
The websites I found useful might Continue reading
As Elizabeth wrote last week, book covers are a big deal. They hint at what lies between the pages. They can turn off—or turn on—readers. Some readers make buying decisions based primarily—or even solely—on the cover, if I read the comments in her post accurately.
The Atlantic just ran an article about the covers of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, which chronicle the friendship between two ambitious young women over the course of 50 years. The series has sold more than a million copies in the United States alone and received glowing critical praise since the publisher Europa released the first book, My Brilliant Friend, in 2012.
But the series covers have been trashed. Readers have described Ferrante’s covers as “horrible,” “atrocious,” “utterly hideous,” and a “disservice” to her novels. She picks the images for her books, so I’ve got plenty of sympathy for her. Continue reading
A well-designed cover for “One Good Earl Deserves a Lover” by Sarah MacLean.
In this era of self-publishing, where anyone can sell their book on Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, etc., it’s important to differentiate yourself from the masses. To separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. A key way to do that, aside from writing a freaking fantastic book and paying for professional book editing, is to have your cover professionally designed by someone who knows what they’re doing. That last part is key and bears repeating in big, bold letters:
by someone who knows what they’re doing