I’ve decided to talk about a topic that’s been on my mind lately. Cover art. You have no idea how many questions I get about my covers, mainly from people wondering how much control I have over the final product. The answer is: It depends.
Here’s the process I go through with my publisher, Love Inspired Historical. About a year before one of my books hits the shelves I receive an email from my editor telling me it’s time to fill out the Art Fact Sheet (AFS) for the book. That means I have to go a Web site hosted by the publisher and answer a bunch of questions about the story. Incidentally, this is the time when I’m asked to send in alternative titles for the book. Case in point. My current release started out as WINNING MOLLY’S HEART. Twenty-five or so suggestions later, my editor and I agreed on FINALLY A BRIDE. Although both evoke a nice tone, the new version has a stronger hook, which is what the publisher is always attempting to accomplish with the title.
Okay, back to the cover art process. Like I said before, I go to a special Web site and begin answering questions about my story. The questions fall under several categories, such as: Characters, Scenes, and Synopsis, as well as a detailed page with basic questions surrounding theme, story hooks, date, setting, story timeline, etc. The character questions range from superficial things such as physical traits to deeper issues such as psychological wounds. The synopsis is basically a short and sweet summary of the story, something I would tell a friend at a party or sitting in the stands at a football game.
Most of the above is both easy and fun. However, I find the section about scene description very difficult. The publisher wants three very distinct, yet detailed scene descriptions. This should be easy for me. I love exploring setting in my books. But knowing that a real artist will be using my words to create a picture suddenly makes the ideas freeze in my head. That’s why I love the last and final portion of my job in the cover art process—creating a separate file of the images I think best evoke the mood of my story. I get to cruise the Internet looking for pictures of my hero and heroine, as well as possible scenes or other similar book covers I think will work for my book as well (in terms of overall tone).
This final component really makes the story come alive for me in my head. It’s so effective that I now try to capture many of those types of images before I start writing a book rather than after.
Aside from sending the above pictures, I also sent pictures of snowcapped mountains and country churches. What do you think of the finally cover for FINALLY A BRIDE? The story is set in 1894. Did the art department get it right, or what?
Leave a comment and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a copy of this book, out this month!