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:
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?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is UNTAMED COWBOY.
When HER LONE PROTECTOR came out in the UK, this is the cover they gave me:
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!
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?