Did you know what you wanted the cover to look like when you started the design process?
I knew that I wanted a cover similar to the other 4 romantic comedies in what I call The Lingerie Series, four books with a similar look and with images featuring lingerie. Additionally, I wanted a perfume bottle in the cover art. Little did I know how difficult it was to find exactly what I wanted.
In fact, I ended up with a cover that met all the requirements except for the perfume bottle. Even though there’s nothing wrong with the cover, it wasn’t what I wanted so I kept looking for the image that matched the vision in my brain. I finally found it 5 months later!
Joan’s first cover
What kinds of questions did your cover designer ask before he/she began working?
My cover artist is my daughter, Adina Mayo. I’m so lucky because she is a graphic designer and photographer who is also an art teacher. Normally, I have a vision of what I want. I discuss it with her. I usually find the cover art I want used, and she adapts it so that it never looks exactly like the photograph. I think this is of great importance because so many authors are using the same photographs.
In fact, I can now look at a book cover and recognize the photograph used. Adina uses various filters and other Photoshop techniques to make the photograph individual and unique.
Did the cover artist make content suggestions, or did he/she ask you for a detailed description of what you wanted?
In my case, Adina and I are very in sync when it comes to the look of my book covers. However, she does covers for other clients, and I know she tries to get as many details from them as possible in designing their covers. Since she worked for an advertising agency, she knows a lot about branding and is happy to relay that to the authors if they’re open to her suggestions.
How many revisions did you ask for before you were satisfied with the result?
I always have a specific idea of what I want, and she is great at interpreting that. I asked for no revisions, but I told her if I found the perfect photograph that I’d want the cover changed. The book was published in the spring, and it had a very nice cover. But I found the photo I wanted in early September. She just changed the cover art. I’ll be uploading the new cover to all the ebook sellers this week.
Were you happy with the artwork that was used to create the final cover?
She’s amazing. I’ve never seen a cover that she did that I didn’t like. Although I’ve seen some she suggested to another of her clients that were turned down in favor of a different cover, and I liked the reject better. But taste in art is subjective. There is no right or wrong, but sometimes one cover art will sell a book better than another.
Would you change anything about your cover if you could?
Not the new cover. It has all the elements, especially the perfume bottle which is important because the book is about a perfumer with tidbits about the science of smell and sex appeal throughout the book.
Did you look to see what other authors were doing before you chose your design elements?
Not so much any more. When I first started indie publishing, I did an exhaustive study of covers of successful books. The basic elements of good design don’t change so the only thing that changes is the focal art. My cover artist always individualizes this so they don’t look derivative. For instance, on the cover of Romeo and Judy Anne, she changed the color of the shoes to red/orange and “washed” a filter of the same color over the image.
Together we have a visual concept for the various series, so she color matches the fonts on the respective series. As part of the branding we’ve done, she has the same author and title fonts on each book.
If this book is part of a series, how did you convey that on the cover?
The same pink tone on the image, same fonts, and lingerie even though on this cover, it’s not clearly seen.
What made you decide to (or not to) feature the hero and/or heroine on the cover?
Normally, I don’t want a distinct facial image on my covers. As a reader, I use my imagination when picturing a hero or heroine. I think all readers do this. Sometimes, a face can distract the reader so that they can’t “get into” the character or story as well.
How much did the mood of your story affect your design choices?
My novels are all romantic comedy — sassy and sexy — so I try for a cover that conveys a sense of that sassiness and sexiness. A sense of fun.
Would you make your covers yourself if you were able?
I like dabbling in digital illustration and do a lot of work in it, but I don’t think I could ever do it as well as a professional graphic artist. I’ve seen Adina, my artist, take something I’ve done that I thought was really good and in a few moments, made it spectacular. There’s just no comparison between a true artist and a dabbler.
What do you think of the fonts on your cover? How do they add to the overall design?
I like the fonts, and I studied lots of fonts to find these. Adina has thousands of fonts on her computer. Her collection is amazing! When my books were first published, we used different fonts for the title and the author name, but still the same “curlicues” next to my name. I think it’s good to update your books periodically so this year, we changed the fonts. I still love the cover art, but just changing the fonts gave the books a new look.
If your book was traditionally published (versus indie published), how much say did you have in the cover design process? Would you make changes to the cover if you could?
With all my traditionally published books, I had no cover input. I actively disliked all the covers and one that was on the hardcover edition was so ugly that it was embarrassing. I felt the covers were detrimental to the books selling. I’ve been pleased with the covers my French publisher used for my books, but of all my books published in the U.S., there was only one that had the kind of fun, sexy look that matched the content. Being able to control the cover art is one of the big pluses of indie publishing.
BIO: Joan Reeves writes Contemporary Romance, specifically, Romantic Comedy. She’s multi-published in print, ebooks, and audiobooks. Her first ebook JUST ONE LOOK was in the Top 100 Amazon Bestsellers, Contemporary Romance, for more than 3 months, and she has followed that up with 7 more novels and 1 nonfiction. Look for her next book CINDERELLA BLUE, Book 2 of San Antone Two-Step, available late September 2013.
Excerpt, SCENTS and SENSUALITY, The Kiss
Was it really all right to be herself with him? To show her true personality? “Nicole said men prefer women who aren’t so serious. She said men like women who are sexy and flirty. I’m not like that. I’m serious and thoughtful and introverted. And shy.”
She was shy? Oddly, Harrison liked that. Most of the women he’d had in his bed didn’t know the meaning of the word shy. He’d never had a woman hesitate to tell him in detail what to do, where to touch, how to touch, and when to touch as she pursued her own orgasm. As if he were so unskilled that he didn’t know anything about women.
“I really don’t know much about pop culture and clubbing and all the stuff that Nicole knows,” Amanda said.
“Your friend doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” Harrison said. He stopped moving. Now they weren’t dancing. They were just swaying in time to the music. “There’s nothing wrong with the real you, sweetheart.”
With that one sentence, he had her. She could smell him, and his scent was strong. Musky. Maybe it was just physiology, she thought, with the tiny part of her brain that still worked. Something about her female pheromone receptors went bonkers when he was near. He’d said sweetheart. Amanda didn’t know if it was what he’d said or the endearment that warmed her so completely.
In a voice so intense that it made gooseflesh break out on her arms, he said, “You don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not. I like you just the way you are.”
The song stopped. Still they swayed, cheek to cheek, breast to chest, heat to heat. The song started again.
“You’re beautiful,” he whispered against her cheek. “And you’re incredibly sexy without playing silly games. You’re sexy without even trying. And I want you.”
His words wove a spell around her lonely heart. “I want you too,” she confessed.
Harrison smiled and nuzzled the tender flesh of her neck where her pulse throbbed.
In a voice so soft that he had to strain to hear, Amanda said, “You don’t have to say that…that I’m sexy. I…I won’t change my mind about…about…you know.” She fell silent.
Harrison pulled away from her a little so he could look at her, gauge her reactions. “Are you trying to say you won’t change your mind about having a raging affair with me?”
Amanda took a deep breath and exhaled. She met his eyes directly. “Despite what you say, I know I’m not sexy. I just want to be honest with you. It’s important to me to be honest. I don’t like lies. They just cause problems. So here’s the bald truth. I’m a flop with men, and I was desperate for a date for my cousin’s wedding. Nicole helped me hook you. She tutored me on how to be a hot babe because that’s what men want.”
Harrison found it hard to accept that she believed all that. “That’s a hell of a lot of honesty.”
His comment was like the release gate on a dam. A flood of words poured out of Amanda. “I don’t want you to be confused by Nicole’s tricks and think I’m something I’m not. Even though I’m more than willing to…you know…have that raging affair with you.”
Amanda spoke faster to get all the words out before she lost her courage. “I was just pretending. So you may not really want me now that you know the truth. I’m not a sexy hot babe, and you don’t have to tell me I am just to–”
Harrison’s mouth swooped down and captured hers, shutting off the frantic torrent of words. Amanda was frozen for a split second, then the feel of his mouth on hers broke through the paralysis. His lips were warm. They pressed against hers, teasing, shaping hers. The tip of his tongue licked, demanded entrance. She sighed, and his tongue plunged into her mouth. She forgot that she didn’t know much about kissing. She welcomed him. She pressed her body as tightly as possible to his and couldn’t hold back the moan that rose to her lips.