Pssst. . . Publishers and authors don’t always agree on book covers.
You’re not surprised, are you? As a reader you may even have strong feelings about a book cover in your collection.
Maybe you have a preference for an icon cover (an object that relates to the book, like a pearl necklace or a Japanese lantern.) A clinch (two people in positions ranging from chaste to compromising.) Your favorites might be characters in action, or in repose, pictures of scenery, houses, horses. You might prefer pastels or jewel tones or even black and white.
And yes, readers sometimes refuse to pick up a book if they don’t like the cover. Ask me how I know? I’ve been there. I’ve even bought books solely because of their covers. It happens to the best of us.
So what’s behind book cover choices?
Let’s be honest here. Publishers usually pay more attention to what’s selling than to artistic imagination and merit. Wild experiments are often failures. A story circulated years ago about the covers of gothic novels, which were nearly always shades of blue. A weary publisher tried a green book cover, and the book sales tanked. They pulled the book and reissued the same cover in blue. Book sales boomed.
Ever wonder why so many book covers in your favorite genres look alike? That’s easy. Publishers know that readers have limited time. Clues are required. Romantic poses indicate a love story. Horses and ten gallon hats, a western. Dark, moody scenery probably foretells a thriller or mystery.
Where does the author fit in, or does she?
I am always asked for my ideas before covers are designed. Quite honestly my ideas are rarely used. In fact most of the time my input seems to matter most at the end, when I dig in my heels and request revisions on their ideas. I suspect there’s a dartboard somewhere in Toronto or New York with my picture on it. I understand. But a book cover like a title (you remember all those title blogs I’ve written?) matters to me. A lot.
In all fairness, I am not an artist. I envision things that are impossible, or silly in execution, or even unattractive. Not always, mind you, but sometimes. And it’s not my job to know what’s selling best at the moment. For this I need my publisher.
Part of the cover process includes telling the story so the cover will accurately reflect the book. Then after paragraphs of description of scenes and characters, I’m allowed to explain what I’d like to see. So what did I want for When We Were Sisters, arriving at bookstores in June?
When We Were Sisters, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you my part of this story. But even more fun? The art department at Harlequin Mira will be blogging about my cover, and about a unique approach to finding a look and a depiction we could all agree on. I’m so delighted they’re doing this because you’ll enjoy this special and unusual peek. They will take you behind a cover shoot using the two little girls on the cover. (The photo above was my favorite and ended up on the back cover.)
I’ll tell you more about that decision tomorrow. But you’ll see other photos from the shoot and read the story from the art department’s perspective.
You’ll find the art department’s link here, tomorrow at noon, EST. And mine will go up here at the same time.
So come back at noon tomorrow, when I’ll tell you more about how the cover came to be, from my perspective, and you can then hop over and view the art department’s version. This is a unique opportunity and I thank my publisher for sharing the process with me and especially, with you.
Enjoy, and let me know what you think about the cover, the process and the final results.