A book cover is one of the most important things about your novel.
The story is what matters, some people say. The characters, the message, the writing.
We writers are in love with our own words, and we’d like to believe that good writing will sell our stuff. It’s what we work on, slave over, day after day, shaping, honing, lovingly crafting our prose—
But most readers will tell you that, especially if it’s a new writer, the cover is what makes them buy (or not buy).
The book cover process:
When I was looking for someone to design a book cover for my first series, I got so lucky. The person I chose was dependable, flexible, and understood and interpreted my vision exactly. And I heard from so many bloggers that they specifically requested to review that book, Living in the Shallows, because the cover was so beautiful. I’m including it here as an example, to me, of what a good cover should be:
I’m including a link to paramita’s (the cover artist) website, so anyone who wants her can contact her. She’s ace!
Of course I used the same designer for all seven in that series. She carried the theme (the girl’s face, the hummingbird, the boys in the band) through all seven, while adding in the accoutrements for each individual book (geographical details, plants or flowers, etc.).
For my new book, Pete & Daisy, I wanted an animated cover. As in drawn, not moving. This couple is a lighthearted pair, fun and whimsical, I thought. Even though the book deals with serious subjects, like unplanned pregnancy and violence against women, at heart it is a love story, between two romantic souls, set in New York, my favorite city. And I don’t like having face claims. I thought a drawn cover would work better than having real people. The girl I used on the cover of my first series is a real person, you’ll notice; why did I do that, if I don’t like face claims? Well, that main character was conceived with that cover model in mind. She is my daughter, also, so I owned the rights to the photographs of her that were used. Convenient, right? But not for Pete & Daisy.
For this one, I really wanted something that just couldn’t be captured in a realistic rendering, either of them or the setting. I’d seen the artist, Ula’s, work here and there, and I really loved the way she drew. Her people were happy, vivacious, cute. Their eyes had soul. I gave her my specs, and she really delivered, incorporating everything I wanted. This was the preliminary sketch that she sent me.
My thoughtful conclusion:
I know that “bare chests sell,” especially for romances (the men’s chests, obviously lol, though I’m sure that bare female chests would sell also); however, I felt very strongly that putting bare chests, of either gender, wouldn’t be true to the spirit of the book, the feel of the story. Yes, it’s a romance, yes, it’s very, very explicitly sexy, but a typical romance book cover just didn’t feel right to me. This is the first draft she sent me, and it’s pretty close to the finished product. It covers everything: the city, the flowers, the love, the pregnancy, even the kitty (and there’s almost a bare chest, hey!). So yeah, I know it’s not a typical cover, but it works for me, in all kinds of ways, and I hope it works for readers as well!
Here’s the finished cover, which is so cute, I think.
And here’s the link to Ula’s website, she does all kinds of things, including adorable renderings of the boys from One Direction: