Cover Art

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).

I pictured Andrew Walker as Garrett
I pictured Andrew Walker as Garrett




Hedy Lamarr was my model for Molly
Hedy Lamarr was my model for Molly









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!

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27 thoughts on “Cover Art”

  1. Renee, I love the cover. And if it matches the story I’m sure it will be good. Enjoyed your article on the Cover Art. Thanks. Please put my name, but don’t forget to draw it out again. LOL Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  2. Very pretty. Do they do a photo shoot just for your cover? I’ve noticed how difficult it is to find a good selection of historical/western dressed models.

  3. I think the cover is just great! Very fitting….it makes you want to grab the book! I think your post is so interesting….what a process to go through to get the final beautiful result.

    melback at cebridge dot net

  4. Great cover! I love it when covers have included those little details from the book. Wow, what a process to get covers picked out.

  5. Interesting recap of the road to cover presentation. I didn’t realize that so many decisions had to be made so far in advance of publication. Have all of your books taken over a year to publish? It turned out beautifully!

    I love your choice of Hedy Lamarr. What a beautiful woman!

  6. Jane, great question! Some of the books receive a cover shoot, but I don’t know how they determine which ones. This time around I was asked to send pictures of 1890s wedding dresses. The one they put on my heroine looks very similar to several I sent.

  7. Melanie, I agree. The colors are very eye-catching. I haven’t seen the book on the shelves yet to see if it really does stand out. Hmmm, I think I need to make a trip to Walmart today. 😉

  8. Janine, thanks. I agree, I definitely ended up with a lovely cover. Just between us, I dread the “AFS” email from my editor because I know I’m going to have to get really creative. The better job I do the more the artists have to wortk with…no pressure or anything. 😉

  9. Laurie G, because of the various things that have to be accomplished in the publication process (such as cover art decisions) it’s really important for an author to meet his/her deadlines. Hence my daughter’s very apt description of me nearing deadline…CRAZY WRITER MODE. Oh, yeah, I admit it. I get a little intense when a manuscript due date gets close. 😉

  10. I love the beautiful cover! Everyone did a great job! I found the cover art process very interesting. Thank you so much for all you do in writing and creating wonderful stories!

  11. A beautiful cover. There are so many things that go into the finished book that as a reader and not an author I never thought about before. That’s why I enjoy P&P, I learn all sorts of behind the scenes information.

  12. I enjoy cover art and it is among the first things to draw me to a book. The author is often the first. I love the cover of this book!

  13. I loved reading about how your covers come about and I think this one came out very nicely! It makes sense that it is a pretty big undertaking, since it is the first thing that will draw many readers to the book.

  14. I love the cover!!! I think even though some may not want to admit to it but we do judge a book by its cover. The covers add so much to a story and allow the readers to give the characters a face.

  15. Lovely cover. The art department did a good job matching their cover model to your image of the character, Hedy Lamarr. The mountains definitely give it a feeling of place. The only question is the flowers. Could they have gotten them there during the winter? They do add a nice splash of color as do the decorations on the church.

    Best wishes for a successful release and sales. Have a great week.

  16. I love a great cover,it catches my eye drawing me in to the novel, & this one fits the bill! How clever you are using Hedy Lamarr as a “roll model” in the story (such a beautiful star)
    and the fellow, Andrew Walker, was not too shabby either! 🙂

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