Some people ask me if we authors get to design our book covers. The answer is no. We don’t see them until they’re print ready—not at Harlequin, at least, or any other publisher that I’m aware of. I’m sure there’s a good reason behind this. If we were given input into our covers along the way, the poor production folks would never hear the end of us.
Most publishers, including Harlequin, do let their authors fill out a form describing the setting, the hero, heroine and any other important characters, and some key scenes that might work as cover art. Along with the form we can submit sample photos—catalog models or actors that resemble our hero and heroine, pictures of the setting, key objects, etc. From there it’s all up to the editors and art directors.
Cover art has changed a lot over the years. The early Harlequin Historical covers were paintings. They were exquisite. Some of us were lucky enough to have covers painted by the legendary cover artist, Pino (Cheryl, is your RAIN SHADOW cover a Pino? It has the look.) Today’s covers are more likely to be computer-enhanced photos, but they’re still beautiful.
Covers in the early days of sensual romance usually showed the hero and heroine in a passionate clinch. I was told (and it seemed to be true) that you could tell the level of sensuality in a book by two things—the position of the hero’s hands and the depth of the heroine’s cleavage. Aren’t we glad that era is over?
Seeing your cover for the first time is always a thrill. The heart leaps—or sometimes it sinks. Egad! My hero looks like Donald Trump! What were they thinking? Usually, however, it’s just a Wow! I love the cover for my new book, THE STRANGER. The house is supposed to be a one-story adobe. But that scrumptious hero…oh, yeah! Who’s going to look at the house?
You can see all my covers on my web site. Most of them are wonderful (I’d love to hear your favorite). But the winner of my Worst Cover award is no contest. One of my earliest books, BRIDE OF FORTUNE, was based on real events and real characters. The heroine was an American woman who married a Prussian prince and became involved in the Mexican war to depose the Austrian Emperor Maximilian. I sent clearly labeled photos of the heroine, her handsome, clean-shaven prince, and the bearded emperor. Somebody mixed them up. The cover shows the heroine in the arms of the emperor. To add insult to injury the art on the back cover is an exact copy of a scene from the movie, “Anastasia” with Ingrid Bergman and Helen Hayes, clearly recognizable. (No, the publisher wasn’t Harlequin.)
And my favorite cover? It’s WILD WINGS, WILD HEART, my only Silhouette Special Edition. The beautiful heroine is my daughter, Tanya, who died in a car accident in 1985. I sent them her picture and they used it as a model. My throat still gets tight when I look at it.
Do you have a favorite book cover? Any questions or fun cover stories to share? We’d love to hear them. And the winner I draw from those of you who post comments will receive a copy of THE STRANGER or your choice of my other recent books.