Cover Vignettes–and a Grand Unveiling!

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Writing a book is hard work.  It’s stressful for a whole wagonload of reasons.  It’s time-consuming and scary.   And it may–or may not–be particularly profitable.  Throughout the whole months-long process, we writers will bang our heads, chew our nails and agonize over every character, plot point and word choice until at last!  We type “The End” and send the whole thing to our editor.

But it’s all worth it when we get our covers.

Most of the time.

Covers are the icing on the cake for us.  They’re the final step in the process–the one thing that makes our book a real BOOK.   They’re the reason why many of us write in the first place–beyond telling the stories we’re compelled to tell–seeing our name in bold, colorful print and knowing the rest of the world will see our name, too. 

But waiting for that first glimpse often takes several months.  Sometimes we have input, sometimes we don’t.   Sometimes we’re blessed with great art departments–or not.  Sometimes the models on the cover are just who we picture how our characters should look, and sometimes—-well, you get the idea.

Despite all this, getting the cover is THE most exciting thing about the book for me.  I get my covers in jpg format, and when I find that email in my Inbox, my heart beats a little faster, and my finger hovers over the mouse for a sweetly agonizing moment while my brain worries … will I like it, or won’t I?

Covers are often hotly debated, sometimes collected, autographed and always promoted.  They usually have a story or two behind them.  Here’s a few of mine:

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I just had to include  my very first cover in today’s blog.  It’s so darn special for that very reason.  My first four books were released by Dorchester Publishing and their Leisure books line.  We must not have had jpg’s back then, because the Production Assistant was kind enough to print me a color copy and mail it to me.  I still remember standing in my kitchen with my jaw hanging down to the floor.  I didn’t know that’s what the envelope held, and the surprise–and awe–at seeing my precious first cover will always stay with me.  I didn’t put that paper down for 3 days.

I’ve always loved the model.  He’s so-o hunky and more mature than most.  The look is romantic, and the heroine is realistic and beautifully coy.  My one complaint?  Her gown looks like a negligee–and not a dress a woman at the time would’ve worn.

My third book with Leisure was HANNAH’S VOW.  The same production assistant from above was a huge Titanic fan.  When someone from the Art Department happened to stroll through her office, she noticed a photo of Jack and Rose tacked on the assistant’s bulletin board.  She pointed to the picture and said–“I want a cover just like that for a book I have coming up.”

Here’s what I got.  Cool, eh?

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Now, for those of you who think that every author’s book gets oodles of special attention, or that an entire department slaves away for untold hours making each cover just perfect, well, think again. In an ideal world, I suppose, but the reality is that some covers get–ahem–recycled.

In this age of computer graphics, it’s easy to do, and it saves the publisher piles of money. For the author, however, it’s a bit disconcerting to see that a cover she sees and loves as her own has been used for another book.

Case in point:

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My Spring Brides anthology came out in June, 2005.   You can’t see it well here, but there’s a horse and buggy parked next to the church.  And of course, the chair with the hat and wedding dress in front.

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This was inside the front cover.  Same church, but no horse and buggy, and of course, the chair was gone, too.  I really liked the black and white shot of the bride walking toward the church.  It fit well with the whole book.

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When the book came out in the United Kingdom in May, 2006, they used the inside cover from the first book, but in color.  Note that the sky is lighter than the North American version, and so is the grass, but the church is distinctively the same.

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Imagine my surprise in February, 2008, when I found Jillian Hart’s cover was an exact match.  Hers was the second book to launch the Love Inspired Historical line, and she got tons of promo.  I suspect the cover will be laid to rest for awhile.

Below is the front and back of THE MERCENARY’S KISS, my very first book with Harlequin Historicals.  I call it my infamous sausage pizza cover, and I’ll let you figure out why, but I’m told the model on the front was hugely popular with the readers, even voted Number One on eharlequin the year before the book came out.  

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I did find it strange that on the back of the cover they used a different model.  Perhaps a cost-saving measure.  Note that they’re both wearing the same shirt and vest, but the one on the back is older and more rugged.  One of my favorites.mkunitedkingdommkitaly

 

 

 

 

 

 

He’s such a cutie, I’m glad they gave him his own cover on my UK and Italian versions.

Now this one had me scratching my head bigtime.  This is the cover to HER LONE PROTECTOR.  I fell in love with this guy from the get-go, and so did virtually all my readers.

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This is UNTAMED COWBOY.

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When HER LONE PROTECTOR came out in the UK, this is the cover they gave me:

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They put the cover for UNTAMED COWBOY on HER LONE PROTECTOR.  Why they didn’t use my gorgeous cowboy from the North American version of HER LONE PROTECTOR is beyond me.  I was um, dismayed, because not only were the covers switched, the cover had absolutely nothing to do with the story.  Nothing, nothing.  I was sure someone goofed since I’ve always been given my North American covers on foreign editions, but when my agent inquired, she was assured the cover chosen was a calculated decision to give the book a western look and feel. 

Now, on to the Grand Unveiling . . . drum roll, please!

My next book will be out in May, and I’m so-o ready.  I just received the cover art for THE CATTLEMAN’S UNSUITABLE WIFE.  Yee-Haw!  My editor and I are both very pleased.   The model is a little older, not quite so clean-cut.  Even better, THE CATTLEMAN’S UNSUITABLE WIFE will be Harlequin Historical’s spotlight western for Harlequin’s 60th Anniversary.  Stay tuned for more!

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You like?

THE CATTLEMAN’S UNSUITABLE WIFE is available for

Let’s talk covers, my friends.  Those of you who are pubbed, have any cover stories to share?

Does cover mistakes bother you?  Do you even notice?  Or care?

Have you noticed any recycled covers lately?

 

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Pam has written 30 romances, most of them historical westerns. Her newest sweet historical romance, HARRIETT, was the launch book for the popular Cupids & Cowboys series, More books are coming! Stay up on the latest at www.pamcrooks.com

34 thoughts on “Cover Vignettes–and a Grand Unveiling!”

  1. Congrats on a super cover, Pam!! He has hair on his chest—HOT! And that gleam in his eye is even hotter 😉

    I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a cover mistake on a book. I’ve been pleased with all my covers so far–my first cover with the cowgirl is still my favorite–matching my mental image of the book to perfection.

    Cheers on the new release and the Anniversary spotlight 😀

  2. Yummy!!! Love your new cover! He’s absolutely delicious!

    (went and saved that one to my list on amazon!)

    I’m not sure if I’ve ever noticed cover mistakes before, though I’m sure at some point in time I have looked at a cover and said, “boy that reminds me….” Just can’t think of anything right off.

    How wonderful you’ll be part of the 60th Anniversary spotlight! Can’t wait to read it.

  3. Omigosh, Pam, it’s GORGEOUS!!! What a man, and that look! Love it!
    My Harlequin covers have all been nice. But I’ve had the same white high-necked blouse on several heroines. And then there’s the infamous pink prom dress…
    The one really awful cover I’ve had was pre-Harlequin. The characters were real people. I sent clearly labeled photos and the artist mixed them up, so the heroine was in the arms of the bearded king. Sigh. To make things worse, there was a scene from the movie “Anastasia” on the back cover, which had nothing to do with the story.AAAAaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!! But I survived.
    Thanks for a fun blog, Pam.

  4. Oh, my, Stacey. You’re up early out there on the west coast!

    You have always had awesome covers, and that cowgirl cover was strikingly unique. I remember when I first saw it–I knew it was going to sell books!

    In Bride of Shadow Canyon, I worried about those two falling off the edge of the cliff, though. LOL.

  5. Thank you, Elizabeth. The cover gods have been loving you lately, you know. I can’t wait until you unveil your latest. Yee-haw!

    You have such a lo-ong backlist, you could probably do a vignettes blog, too. 🙂

  6. I’m waiting right now on the cover for my July release and it’s always a huge DRUMROLL…because we want the cover to be eye catching.

    Great, Great look for the Cattleman’s Unsuitable Wife. 😀 I love it.

  7. For my series Lassoed in Texas I requested no faces. I see lots to love in the cover models on your books, so I’m not sure why but I didn’t want faces on my books. I guess I wanted the reader to supply the face from their imagination.

    But now we have to have faces because apparently that’s a good thing– LOL so I’m fascinated to see who my publisher comes up with.

  8. I don’t just “like” the new cover — I LOVE it.

    Wow.

    What. A. Hottie.

    That book is destined for my keeper shelf, along with all your other Harlequin Historicals — I confess to REALLY loving “Her Lone Protector” cover. That guy just … well, he does it for me. Toss up between him and the latest guy. What a dilemma!

    All the best!

    WandaSue

  9. Mary, since your publisher discovered you, they have done everything but stand on their heads for you. (And maybe they’ve done that, too–I just haven’t seen it. 🙂 ) I have no doubt the look they give you for the new book will be dynamite.

    But you know, I love covers with no faces, too. They’re so-o intriguing and a bit mysterious. Especially if it’s mainly the hero’s chest. Hee!

  10. Love the covers, but it is surprising to see so much recycled. Now I am curious… I will have to compare the books on my shelves to see if there are more recycled covers! 😀 THE CATTLEMAN’S UNSUITABLE WIFE cover looks great!

  11. Love that cover, Pam!! Wow, he’s sexy and HOT! I think you got a winner with this. Let’s just hope and pray that another book doesn’t come out with the same cover.

    I’ve had that happen a lot and it’s always disappointing. Both our anthology covers were used on other books. Rats!! But, the cover that most disappointed me was “Redemption” at Dorchester. They dressed the models in Regency clothes and it makes a reader think they’re getting a Regency instead of a western. I got a lot of comments about that. There’s nothing though that a writer can do. We just have to grin and bear it when we get one that’s less than pleasing. I loved both the covers for my first two books. There was no mistaking them for anything but westerns.

    Interesting blog! 🙂

  12. I don’t usually pay that much attention to covers, pretty much expecting them to be hideous, embarrassing and/or wrong, but I enjoyed getting to see yours. That upcoming one is… tasty.

  13. Whew, great cover, Pam. I loooooove it.

    My first cover, at Dorch., horrified me. In the book she’s a Susan B. Anthony fan and they posed her like a slut LOL. My husband had a glass of wine waiting for me when I got home from school to celebrate (he knew the covers had arrived) and instead, I about cried when I saw it. For Marrying Minda, I asked for no faces, and they actually listened, so I was very happy.

    And congrats on Spotlight, Pam! What an honor. I really enjoyed this post!

  14. Colleen, thanks for stopping by today.

    Most recycling is done discreetly, with enough changes made that most readers won’t even notice. Alas, an exception being my Spring Brides antho.

    Let us know if you find any with surprising similarities, okay?!

  15. Hey, Linda!

    As a fellow Dorch author, you know that they had some pretty gorgeous covers overall, and they were certainly known for their clinches. But I remember one author where hers was Pepto-Bismol pink. Pink, pink, pink. I can’t remember what era she wrote, but she made lemonade out of her lemon and kicked off a Pink contest of some sort.

    I remember admiring her for making the most of it in a fun way. I probably would’ve bawled.

    I had no idea both your anthos were used before. Dang! Regardless, they’re gorgeous, gorgeous, and with Jodi on your team, you’re gonna sell books. And that’s what counts.

  16. Glad you liked my hunky guy, willaful. 🙂

    Covers are designed to market the product inside them, and generally, they do very well at it, but once in a while a few stinkers show up. It’s to be expected, considering how many mass market romances are published every year.

    Thank you for stopping by and chatting with us.

  17. Thank you, Tanya!! Your husband sounds like a real sweetie! Not many guys would think about pouring a glass of wine and have it ready and waiting to celebrate–wow! I’m sure he was devastated when you were so disappointed. That first cover is meant to be special!

    Thanks for sharing–

  18. Hi, Pam! Thanks for your post today–as avid a reader as I am, I also seem to be terribly unobservant, so I think I have several of your covers and never noticed any of the things you pointed out! Gah! In general, I tend to blip over the cover unless it’s amazingly eye-catching OR it’s amazingly unattractive. On the occasions I do notice, I really hate when the description inside doesn’t jive with the models portrayed. Nothing like a blond hunk when the hero is clearly tall, dark, and handsome, or when a red-headed heroine is shown as a brunette! I do like your newest one! Definitely looking forward to it!

  19. Hi Pam! What a fascinating journey into your covers! 🙂 Your new one is beautiful. And you’ve got that special 60th anniversary logo on it. I’m sure it’ll be a smash! He’s a real nice lookin’ fella! LOL

    I don’t have any cover stories to tell…only that sometimes I’m surprised by how dramatic some of my covers have been–I love those!

    You got a beautiful one with the Titanic influence, too!

  20. Howdy, Fedora! You’re not so different than the vast majority of readers out there. And there are sooooo many covers to keep track of. That’s why art departments get away with these little quirks that we authors obsess over.

    Thank you–I’m glad you like my newest cowboy.

  21. Kate, you have had some of the most gorgeous covers HH has ever put out, I swear. Must be they like the flavor of the Klondike in your books. 🙂

    I especially love your Klondike Wedding cover–that wedding dress was beautiful. The whole look was striking and fit the mood of the story.

    Thanks for peeking out from under your deadline and stopping by!

  22. Reader, not a writer! What has struck me lately
    is that the cover models being shown are too young
    for the character. The book I just finished has
    a hero in his early 40s, yet the cover portrays
    a male in his, I’d guess, in his late 20s! Doesn’t
    aid the believability factor!! That’s why I was
    pleased to see the “more mature” examples you
    showed us! (According to my son, the publishers are trying to insure sales by getting the ladies all excited!)

    Pat Cochran

  23. It’s a great cover! Couldn’t ask for better.

    They may retire that Jillian Hart cover, but the church sure makes the rounds. I expect we’ll be seeing it from time to time.

    Sometimes my foreign historicals have a very contemporary-looking cover. They just do it for the most sales possible, so that’s okay with me.

  24. Bingo, Pat! You are spot on. In fact, young, college-age models are something Harlequin has been quietly easing away from. There was a news article on it last year, and I say it’s about time.

    I’m not old, but those models are young enough to be my sons. Which doesn’t do much for the fantasy for me. 🙂

    So does your son think the pubs are getting the ladies all excited with the *younger* models–or the *older* ones??

  25. Thanks, Cheryl! THE PREACHER’S DAUGHTER had a similar look to my Spring Brides anthology. Different, but similar, and very pretty with its bride and soft colors.

    I’ll have to keep an eye out to see if the church is still making the rounds.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  26. Hi Pam,
    Congrats on the spotlight!! And you’re Wyoming Wildflower cover was magnificent. I do love your newest one too … the hero’s face is rugged and has character. I’m a sucker for a cover with horses on it too.

  27. Hi, Charlene,

    Thanks for the kudos–I’m going to do the hero spotlight on eharlequin in May, too. I see where you did the January one for your latest Desire. You were there, right at the top! I loved it!

  28. Hi Pam, i have noticed recycled covers and thought that was a little puzzling that they do that. Boy do i like your newest cover for The Cattleman’s Unsuitable Wife, that’s fantastic, he’s absolutely adorable and looks perfect to me!! I definitely want to read about him….
    Krista

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