Romantic Times says that Alison Henderson “…writes a beautiful story that you won’t be able to put down.” I have to agree, but I’d also like to say she’s a wonderfully warm human being and a gift to our local writers group. Please join me in welcoming her to the convert.
Scroll down the right side of this blog. What do you see? A whole stream of beautiful covers. After author name recognition, the cover is probably the element that most attracts readers to a book. For a new author, it’s critical.
In a bookstore, readers can browse the shelves looking for artwork that catches their eye. A brilliant cover may draw them to an unfamiliar author. And what about e-books? Even online, covers are essential to attracting readers. Whether scanning a major online retailer, social media site, or book blog, we are instantly drawn to colorful and intriguing covers. More than depicting specifics, cover artists work to capture the essence of the story—the mood and subgenre.
The most exciting day of my writing career was the day I received the cover for my first book, Harvest of Dreams—even more exciting than receiving the contract. The cover brought the book to life, made it seem real for the first time. This was the image I could show my friends and family, the image I would use to promote the book to strangers. It represented the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the writing, not to mention the work necessary to finally bring the story to readers. And I ADORED the cover of Harvest of Dreams—still do.
Depending on the publisher, most authors have some input into the cover art. At a minimum, we’re asked to provide basic information about the story, characters, time period, and setting. My publisher’s art department also asked about any important or iconic objects or animals, the time of year, and any suggested color scheme.
Because my first two books were historicals, they warned me they might not use images of the characters because of the difficulty finding pictures of models in appropriate period dress. That didn’t bother me; I was just as happy to have the artist concentrate on creating something beautiful. When the cover for my second book, A Man Like That, arrived with the floating heads of a couple who looked nothing like my characters in the upper left corner, I asked the artist to remove them, and she did. I’m much happier with the end result (I’ve never been a big fan of floating heads).
I tried to suggest elements that would reflect my books’ non-traditional Western settings; although I’m not sure I succeeded. I think both covers are beautiful, but they don’t shout Historical. I hope readers will be attracted enough to check out the cover blurb and excerpt. If so, the covers have done their job.
I have a new story in editing right now, and I’d love some feedback before I send in another cover spec sheet. What attracts you most about book covers? Are you drawn to eye-catching colors, lavish gowns, or naked male torsos? Do you prefer to see the characters’ faces or just their backs? Or do you like depictions of the setting? Do your choices vary by subgenre?
Thanks so much to the Riders for inviting me to join them today, and thanks to all of you for stopping by to chat.