Seeing the covers of my books for the first time is normally for me one of the more exciting parts of this whole writing gig. It’s a thrill to see my stories come, kind of, to life. I’ve never gotten upset if the hair color or style is off, or if the clothing is the wrong color because those things aren’t all that important.
My editor made a comment to me once about covers being merely “representative” of the story, and that makes sense to me. They’re not trying to exactly match details in the book, they’re trying to give a “sense” of the story. I’m sure that’s why we end up with the wrong color hair or too pregnant of a heroine or other discrepancies.
Although I have to admit that when I saw my first cover – TREASURE – the very first thought that popped into my head was that Jake would NEVER wear red. And when they absolutely, positively nailed Erica for NEXT COMES LOVE it was quite a thrill.
That said, I usually end up loving my covers for reasons other than what the hero and heroine look like. In fact, I truly can’t pick a favorite out of all of my covers because I like so many of them so much. I’ve discovered that the background, for me, is what cinches the deal.
I just got the cover for my next release, THE PURSUIT OF JESSE, coming in July, and it’s the first cover in a long while that I’m not entirely crazy about. In fact, I’m not sure I like it at all. While Jesse and Sarah look good and I love the flowers, I really don’t like the background.
Trust me, I don’t envy an art department’s job of putting together covers. Think about how tough it would be to develop a visual representation of a story you’ve never read. Now maybe they read some of the books of big authors beforehand, but I doubt it. I think they’re more often than not working blind. Well, almost blind.
In my case, I fill out what’s called an Art Fact Sheet. It’s an online file that the Harlequin people use to come up with a cover and back copy. Maybe our covers are only as good as the info about characters and setting that we impart in our AFSs? I don’t know. I do know those AFSs are nail-biters for me because I try so hard to only include info that’s important to the story, making sure I don’t give them any visuals that I’d hate to see in the background of the cover.
The AFSs ask us authors to describe three key scenes and presumably one of those scenes will make it on the cover. They even go so far as to ask what the hero and heroine are wearing. Normally, I try not to get specific with colors. There’s really no point. The art department has to, ultimately, choose colors that are visually pleasing with regard to the rest of the cover.
In this book’s case, what I really wanted to see in the background was the heroine’s house. This is the picture I had taped up the entire time I was writing this book because the house plays such a key role in the story.
Instead of a small Victorian, I got party tents. Party tents? They’re never mentioned anywhere in the story. And I’m not even sure anyone will be able to identify exactly what is in the background of this cover without picking up the book and looking more closely.
Hey! Maybe that was the intention!
Actually, the heroine is a wedding planner, so maybe they were wanting to play up that aspect of the story. It’s mentioned in the back cover copy, too. Is the heroine being a wedding planner a hook that might get readers to pick up the book? All I know is that I wanted gingerbread trim, and instead, I got barely identifiable, bunched up, white cloth.
Authors, I think, tend to be the most critical of covers. They know the story better than anyone, and trying to put form to their vision is, at best, a difficult task. I have taken to emailing my editor pictures here and there of things that are significant to my story. None of my pics have made it into the final cover, but at least I’ve tried.
Maybe the problem is having too high of expectations for my covers. So maybe I’m being overly critical of this cover because I got too specific in my head with gingerbread.
So what do you think? Do you like my new cover? When you look at a cover, any cover, do you focus in on the hero and heroine or does the background play a role? Do you have an all time favorite book cover? Why do you like it so much?
And authors out there … how to you deal with your expectations with regard to your covers? Do you have a favorite cover for your own books?
And if you are so inclined … THE PURSUIT OF JESSE, HER SURE THING and REDEMPTION AT MIRABELLE are now available for pre-order at Amazon or your fav online location!