Saturday, July 10, 2010

Authors and Book Covers

My friend Alice Duncan wrote recently on the Mayhem and Mystery blog about book covers, both good and bad, which brought back a lot of memories for me, both good and bad.

Readers might wonder how much authors have to do with their covers. For major publishers, the answer is little or nothing. We submit a sheet of details and then are at the mercy of the art department, budgets, and the gods of Fate and Whimsy. I beleive Fate and Whimsy are in charge a lot of the time.

Fortunately, at The Wild Rose Press, life is much saner. Covers for OUT OF THE BLUE and for THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE were designed by Nicola Martinez. I asked for her—yes, we even get to request the artist at The Wild Rose Press!—because she did such a beautiful cover for an anthology in which I participated, NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES. I thought her design for the Civil War collection was impressive, and still do.
In my pre-The Wild Rose Press life, I’ve had good covers, mediocre covers, and really terrible covers. The worst was a white cover for my THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND. That cover was white with no indication of genre, subgenre, or subject. Needless to say, it did not sell well in spite of great reviews and award nominations. If stores don’t stock it, there are no sales; and chain buyers don’t order all white covers.

Wait, you might ask, don’t the marketing department and the art department know that? Yes, they most certainly do. Some guy in the marketing department was mad at me because I didn’t want to change my name. So, both the publisher and I lost out there. I’m sure the guy in marketing made out okay. The late Kate Duffy, senior editor at Kensington at the time, later apologized to me for my raw deal. Her words not mine, bless her heart. By then she knew she was dying, I suppose, and apologized to both Alice Duncan and me. Doesn’t put money in the bank, but it was nice of her.

On the cover of my first book, the heroine looks as if she’s bursting out of her blouse. I suppose that was supposed to make her look breathless with lust, but to me it looks as if she’s recently gained too much weight for her clothes. At least she and the hero have  sort of the right color hair--hers is supposed to be auburn. Many authors have complained that the characters on their book cover don’t even resemble their hero and heroine. What’s with that?

I’ve had both good and weird covers for foreign sales. One wonders what the translations say in the blurb. Maybe it’s best not to know.  At any rate, I’m very happy to say that the covers at The Wild Rose Press are my favorite. Hooray for Nicola Martinez!

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Have a nice weekend!


Historical Writer/Editor said...

There's something about your covers that are so memorable, whether it's their simple elegance or their stunning colors, among other excellent attributes! My eyes are drawn to them right away.-laura

Historical Writer/Editor said...

oh, of course I''m a follower of this lovely blog.

Brenda said...

I must admit that I often read books based on their eye catching covers, and usually I am not disappointed.Sounds like Wild Rose Press is an author friendly publisher.
I love following your blog.