Saturday, August 20, 2011

Evolution of a Book Cover

There are many steps from acceptance to publication of any book. One of the most interesting is development of a book cover.

Now, if you have an agent who sells your book to a big publishing company, you won't get to say much about the cover art. At least, that's what I've heard.

With MuseItUp Publishing, authors work with their cover artists to get the right look for the book. The first thing is for the author to fill out a Cover Art Worksheet. The author describes the main characters, makes suggestions for what might appear on the cover, and might send along some inspiration pictures. The cover artist's job is to make sense of the author's flights of fancy. Gently tell them they can't use the photos they want to use for a variety of reasons. The biggest reasons have to do with picture quality (the resolution must be super high), copyright issues (no we can't just grab anything we want from the internet), and if the picture meets the other criteria, it just plain costs too much to buy the rights.

There are several sites that carry royalty-free images. That doesn't mean the image is free, but only that it can be purchased once and then used on the cover without continually paying a royalty fee for every copy sold.

All that aside, it becomes a meeting of minds. Suzannah Safi is the cover artist for "Missing, Assumed Dead." I think we ended up with a really neat cover. Since the book is more a mystery than a romance, it shouldn't have a romance-type cover. Those usually involve to extremely good-looking people cuddling together with some additional story highlight images in the background. Suzannah didn't read my book before doing the cover. Artists don't have time to read them all, so they depend on the CA worksheet I mentioned earlier. She knew that the book had a couple who develop a romantic relationship, so she went with that thought and came up with this (these are just initial rough cuts).

The requisite two good-looking people. Not bad, but I cleared my virtual throat and suggested that it just didn't say "murder" to me. I sent her a couple of snapshots of eastern Oregon with the suggestion that the actual countryside is a major story element. Suzannah got it, and roughed out another cover:

I was delighted with the axe, since that is also a main story element, but I didn't like the word "Police" in the picture since the story had a Deputy Sheriff, which are not the same as the urban policemen. The only "policeman" in the story was only pretending to be a cop, so he didn't really count.

But Suzannah said she wasn't too happy with the cheerful background. She tried a similar cover, but with a monochromatic background. Neither of us was thrilled with that.

Back to the drawing board. A couple more iterations had us agreeing the eye was quite cool and the axe definitely had to stay. The background just wasn't working, but I wanted something to show the heat of the desert. Ah ha! What else is hotter than the sun? Together we came up with an award-winning cover. Murder is written all over it with the bloody axe. The woman's eye suggests investigation. Voila! A great cover was developed from two people working together to come up with the right stuff. I could not be happier with this cover. Now you, the reader, has a better idea of what the story is all about.

Bloody good, I think.

1 comment:

  1. Wow -- this is interesting! I love seeing the evolution of the final cover, which is awesome by the way! Thanks for sharing!