Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The art of the cover

Probably it seems I talk about covers more frequently than some might think I should, but they are so important to a book. They also are one of those areas where opinions come fast and furious. I see the issue of covers both from the perspective of reader and writer. 

As a reader, a cover might attract my interest, get me to read a blurb, but it will never lead to my purchasing the book-- or not. I've bought books where I hated the cover. I've seen gorgeous covers; but after reading blurbs, I cannot bring myself to buy the book-- sometimes regretfully because a cover can be beautiful and oh-so tempting. For me, the cover can get my foot in that writer's door, but that's all. From what I've read, that's not true for all readers. Some do buy/not buy a book based on the cover.

The arguments go from there to what should be on that cover. One writer claimed no stock royalty free images are good. They are either overused or not that effective. She had found someone to pose for her camera. She felt it was the best solution if someone cannot afford to pay a professional model. Since it was a family member, she does not have to worry about royalties although I imagine she still uses a contract even then just to be sure it doesn't arise as an issue somewhere down the line if the book becomes a huge seller. 

Having a model pose requires a couple of things-- one they have to look like the heroine/hero the readers expect as well as the characters in your book. Basically they better be good looking (or at least interesting looking) for romances-- and then willing to show up on a romance book cover where others will see it. I think to that end, it'd help if they liked your type of writing.

So from the people on the cover, another argument goes that you should never do your own. You should go to a graphics designer who either sells you a pre-made cover, which you have chosen from their catalog or you pay more to find someone who will work with you and create something that fits your story more specifically.

Up until recently I had never thought I'd use a cover by a graphics artist. I like doing my own. I enjoy playing with images. Yes, I do put money into purchasing those images, but since I can also use them in blogs and other places, I get a lot of images for what it'd cost me to buy one cover. Besides, I have felt I know my characters better than anybody else. 

But I have been known to change my mind when new information comes along as happened on this issue. A writer I know, this year began designing covers-- [Charlene Raddon, aka., Jenneta Dodge or maybe that is vice versa]. She offered a free one to a few writers. My first thought was I didn't have a need for any covers at the moment (boy was I wrong about that but that's another story)

Then I remembered Diablo Canyon which would put together the three novellas. I had had a rough idea for its cover; but to be honest, my idea was pretty bland and I hadn't taken it farther. What had complicated this cover-- three love stories, fantasy elements, ranch life, Montana,  Native American history, and mythology. How do you get that all across? I mentioned it to her, and she told me look at her sample pages -- 


The page she meant for me to see wasn't coming up at the time; but when I looked through the rest, I saw the perfect cover. It had a mystical look, suggested the Native American connection, had mystical looking eyes looking down from a cloud, and showed land which suits some of what I have seen south of Billings, Montana (if you add in a little fantasy to the mix). I fell in love!

Yes, I like doing my own covers. It's play for me, but she had created something that I don't see myself able to do short of copying her work. I don't like to copy work. So it will be my first book with a cover done by a cover artist.

This cover also changed my mind about only bringing this book out as a paperback. It will be both-- oh and then there is that added spice ;). I cannot say the cover was why I did that. Maybe it's that muse of mine that thought it'd be a good shift.


One of my previous resistances to buying a cover (besides my books not selling enough to pay for that) has been how many times I have changed some of mine.I don't think that will be a problem for Diablo Canyon. I can't imagine any cover doing a better job suggesting nature, mysticism and that Native American thread.

Where to see her covers and get more information:

 
She also does blog design if you want to spiff up your blog:

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