Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cathleen Ross: Anatomy of a Cover

How do you tell your publisher you’re not on board with your new book cover, especially when it’s the cover for the book of your heart? Okay, I admit it, I’ve been spoiled for covers so far, so when I was asked to choose a cover by my latest publisher, yes you heard that right, I had problems. The publisher of sent me a link to a website where I had to choose from a selection of stock art which their graphic artist would then alter.

Let me take you back a few steps. I’d sold my contemporary women’s fiction, Love, Lust and Lies, a Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Moonstruck, type book to Passion in Print. Contemporary is a tough market right now so I was delighted to land this sale with a print publisher who pays 15 percent of Net sales on print and 50 percent on ebook. Excuse me for talking money so blatantly but PIP has a sample contract on their website.

A cover should capture what your book is about and lure potential readers in. It should say, “Pick me!” amongst the competition. I’m not an artist so I had trouble choosing but managed to come up with picture one . The trouble was, my hero looked effeminate and I needed my hero to be irresistible so that my heroine feels that she made the right decision to kick her husband out after he has an affair and she takes up with my gorgeous, young hero.

I had Michelangelo’s statue of David in mind. I wanted a sexy face, great chest and more than the fig leaf but to get an image of that you’ll have to read the book.

So I asked my publisher, Laura Baumbach, could my hero be more muscular? I wondered what Laura would think of me asking to change the cover but she was with me all the way, never making me feel like I was a nuisance, even when I didn’t like my hero’s head and chest. See picture two.

After I had selected a head, she sent me a selection of chests. I was building the bionic hero. See picture three.

In the end I had a sexy hero my heroine would want to have an affair with and the pleasure of working with a hands-on publisher who was interested in the writer’s opinion. See final cover.

Have you ever disliked your cover? Have you done anything about it?

Cathleen Ross


desere_steenberg said...

What a nice post ! For me there has never been a cover I have not liked maybe I am just fortunate enough to keep seeing the nice ones, but I have seen loads of nice covers but the excerpt on the back turns me off the book, and even in some cases the cover and excerpt has looked and sounded really good but I after reading it I am totally disappointed!

Thanks for a interesting post.

Grandma's scrapbook said...

nice post!Thanks for these posts will come around again.

Annie West said...

Cathleen, I love the idea of building a bionic hero for your cover! It's wonderful that you have such a big say in how the book looks. Not everyone gets that.

I've now seen the UK and North American covers for my latest release - one has a brunette heroine and one a blonde (as in the book) but I love them both. They're quite different but each capture something about the story and they work (I think) beautifully. Isn't it terrific when you get good covers?

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Cathleen, what fun to have such input into creating your bionic cover hero. I've read LOVE, LUST & LIES, no wonder your heroine Gabriella didn't have to think too long before indulging in a passionate affair with him!

I'm fortunate to have two beautiful covers from the amazing art department at Berkley. However in the first version of the cover of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS the "hero dog" Mack was portrayed as a sable pedigree German Shepherd when in the book he is a big black mutt. His color is important in the story so my editor made sure that my gorgeous Mack became black on the cover.

LOVE, LUST & LIES is a warm, sexy read and I hope your cover attracts lots of new readers!

Cathleen Ross said...

Hi Deseree, Grandma, Annie and Kandy
Thanks for you comments. It's fantastic when you get a cover you like. This is the first time I've ever been asked by a publisher. Normally I just get the cover so it was a new experience for me. PIP are very nice to deal with.

marybelle said...

It must be tough to have an image of your hero only to find your cover does not do him justice. It great that you got to have input.

Cathleen Ross said...

Thanks Mary
I find it hard to convey what I have in my mind to the image. I was lucky to have input.

Jo's Daughter said...

I can imagine that if the picture doesn't match the idea in your head it must be frustrating. Seeing something that's just not right can drive you nuts. What a great solution though, building your own hero, just like you do in the story.

Cathleen Ross said...

I must admit I did find the experience frustrating, although Laura was very patient. Thanks for dropping in Jo.