Admit it, you have judged a book by its cover.
Research claims it’s the first thing that attracts a reader.
When I started in publishing, I was told a cover is a promise to your readers. But how many books have you read that the cover has nothing to do with the book? Or that the heroine has short red hair and the cover has flowing blonde locks? It happens far too often, in my opinion.
I am fortunate in that I am self-publishing my new Black Swan series so I have control over my cover. Mind you, traditional authors often have very little to no say in what’s on the cover except what they list on the Cover Art Sheet. Some authors are allowed to reject one cover then they’re stuck with whatever the designer comes up with next.
There is a lot of work that goes into a cover and I thought I’d share some of that joy (and pain) with you.
I have an AWESOME cover artist who “gets me”. Valerie Tibbs at Tibbs Design and I have worked together for a couple of years and in my latest cover of Unrelenting Love, it showed.
Side Bar Here: I have worked in advertising for over 30 years all around the USA and owned 3 different regional advertising agencies. I can’t count how many graphic artists I have worked with over the years and I still dabble in design. One thing I learned in that career was to give an artist the focus and direction and let them run with it. They are far more creative that I am. That’s why I trust Valerie.
I told her my hero was second generation Cuban American so I wanted the Latin Lover look and my heroine is a kick ass blonde. I wanted her to have a gun. Valerie came up with this cover and I loved the black and white concept…except the man just wasn’t doing it for me. Thinking maybe it was just me, I went hunting for my perfect Latino man. I spent way too much time looking at half naked men on the numerous sites where cover artists find models. I know, it’s a tough job but I was a woman on a mission. You know what I discovered? There are damn few Latin-looking models. And those that are out there are way too pretty! Or they look like they just escaped from jail. Or they are famous and I could never afford their bare chest on my cover.
During a chat online with fellow authors and readers, we discussed covers and I discovered readers would rather paint their own mental picture of the hero than have the cover model stuck in their head. That’s why so many covers cut off the hero’s head, or his face is in deep shadow.
The words of an early Beta reader shot through my head. She suggested I only put yellow roses and dusty combat boots on the cover.
My wonderful Navy expert shipped the combat boots she’d worn recently in the Middle East to the photographer and one of my magnificent readers shipped her husband’s boots he’d worn in Afghanistan during his last tour there.
This is what Valerie came up with next. I really liked how clean it looked, especially compared to all the dark, ominous covers that prevail in the Romantic Suspense sub genre these days. And the boots themselves tell a story. He’s turned away from her. But the yellow roses were the focus, not the boots.
I LOVED the next reincarnation and that’s what you’ll see on the cover of Unrelenting Love which releases June 27th.
Click on the title for an unedited version of the first two chapters of Unrelenting Love .
So, what do you think?
Did I make good decisions?