How my publishers handle my book covers – by Vijaya Schartz
I write for two publishers at this time, and they have very different ways of handling covers, but both are perfectly valid.
Books We Love has an unconventional approach. They send the authors fishing for pictures on a stock photo website, and I love this. Only the author knows exactly what the characters look like. Perusing through the picture, I spotted my heroine immediately. My hero as well. It was a little tricky because the heroine was already featured on one cover in the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval series, and the physical attributes had to be consistent. These are the two latest books in the series, Seducing Sigefroi, and Lady of Luxembourg. These two books feature the same characters.
The first one enhances the historical romance element. The second says medieval fantasy. The series is both.
Desert Breeze Publishing, on the other hand, asks their authors for a detailed cover art sheet, with not only description of the characters, but the excerpt of the first scene when these characters are introduced. They also ask about other elements important to the story, excerpt of scenes where these elements are evident. They ask about theme. Authors also must provide to the artist with excerpts of turning point scenes in the book, and the questions go on and on. Unlike what happens with some large publishers, these pages are carefully read.
Desert Breeze handles my Chronicles of Kassouk series. It’s sci-fi romance. Unlike my other publisher, Desert Breeze made it clear from the start that they do not feature half naked men, and rarely people at all on their covers. It’s a choice. They want the art to speak for itself. And they are very successful at it. My first cover with them, WHITE TIGER, went on to win not only the Ariana Award, but also the Quasar Award for the best eBook cover of 2009 overall. The cover of the latest book in the series, Noah’s ark, is a finalist in the Ariana Award 2013 in the science fiction category.
You’ll notice the big cats on the covers. They are featured in the books. The prequel in pink features a spacecraft, because the large cats do not figure in that book, yet.
My only comment on these gorgeous covers, is that they do say sci-fi fantasy but they do not say romance. From the publisher’s point of view, the romance is implied, because that’s what they publish, but some readers do get confused. Sometimes they ask me if these large felines are furries (sci-fi characters half human half beast), and they are not. They are just battle cats. The titles are also the warrior names of the hero or heroine.
Often my author friends tell me that I’m lucky to have such good covers. It’s not by accident. When a publisher asks authors to answer questions, it’s because the cover artist does not read the book. If you neglect to give them the right information, your cover will not represent your book.
Also, when giving feedback on the draft covers you receive from the publisher for approval, be tactful and respectful of their work. Not all my covers came up perfect the first time. Most of them didn’t. It took some gentle coaxing and positive input to help the artist understand my vision. But in the end it did work out, and I am very happy with the great majority of my covers.
So, next time you fill up a cover art sheet, take it seriously, and give the artist the tools to give you the cover of your dreams. And sometimes, they’ll come up with something absolutely fantastic you would never have dreamt of. Good covers have nothing to do with luck, and everything to do with positive input, author cooperation, and team work.
After all, our covers are the first thing readers see, the most important tool to tell them about our story.
Find my books and covers and follow me on the following sites:
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick