Welcome! This week I have a special treat for you. My cover artist, Tamra Westberry is visiting A Writer’s Mind. Tamra has designed nearly all of my covers. In each case she was easy to work with and delivered exactly what I asked for. 100% pure talent!
As an added bonus to this post, I'd like to host a contest. My treat. A way to thank Tamra for all her hard work over the years. The prize? A $15 voucher to Digi Books Cafe. How do you enter to win? Pretty easy.
Back to business. Tamra graciously provided an article she wrote about cover art. Every cover and banner sprinkled throughout this post is Tamra's design. Must say, they're gorgeous. Okay, floor’s yours Tamra...
According to a poll at Live Journal, Poll 1007999, book promotion 101, sixty-three percent of readers have bought a book based on a cover. This is excellent news for authors with marketable covers. If you’re a well-known author who sells books mostly based on that bold name stamped on the cover, maybe the quality of your cover won’t have a huge impact on your sales.
If you’ve contracted your manuscript with a traditional print or an e-publisher, most of the time you will have to use their in-house artists. Hopefully, you’ve done your research in regards to their artwork policies before signing a contract. For instance, if this publisher’s covers aren’t appealing, do you really want to contract with them? Do they charge for artwork? If so, then find another publisher. If you really like this publishing house but don’t like their artwork, are they willing to let you use an outside artist? If so, chances are, you will be required to pay for this artist yourself. Are you willing to pay an outside artist for cover art when you will also be footing the bill for promotional ad space, etc?
If your cover art contract asks for your preferences, do your research before submitting to your editor. Your company’s website usually has a link to their cover artists’ pages under the ‘about us’ section. Scroll through the various artists’ cover art samples. Find the artwork that mostly represents what you want in a cover and request that artist on your contract. Be advised, sometimes this artist will be too busy to take on new authors, so it’s best to also list a second artist.
Be specific as to what you want but remember that you may not always get exactly what you asked for. The reason is that most publishing houses are now using stock photography for their cover images. Even traditional print houses have gone the path of stock photography because spending $15 for an image is much more cost-effective than paying hefty modeling and photographer fees.
Therefore, it’s best to list three options for your cover. If the book takes place in the mountains, on the plains and on the high seas, then list three scenes that would work for your cover. If you write that you want your hero and heroine embracing on a boat, but give no other details, don’t be surprised if your historical novel is set on a modern-day cruise ship. And if it is a modern novel, then be specific as to what they are wearing. You don’t want a couple on an Alaskan cruise to be scantily clad in swim suits.
So what are your options if your Alaskan couple is dressed in swimsuits?
1. Send threatening letters to your artist’s personal email and home address.
2. Cry and throw a fit and blog and tweet about your crappy publisher and art department.
3. Take a deep breath and slowly calculate a way to convince the art department to change your cover.
“While I love the fonts on the cover, neither the couple, ship or colors set the tone for my book. I have admired many of this artist’s covers, and I was hoping she would make it look more like the cover she designed for author__________.”
Later, if the artist makes the changes and you are happy with your cover, send her a thank you note. You never know if that person will design the cover for your next book. You can also request her as your artist on your next contract, and most artists are eager to please returning authors.
However, not all cover artists will be accommodating. Sometimes, the publisher is on a deadline or maybe can't spend the extra money to buy the art or pay the models. Or maybe the artist/publisher doesn't see a need to change your cover.
Now you need to ask yourself the question, “Is the cover so hideous that it will drive away sales?”
Or are you upset because the heroine is a pale blonde, and, while the artwork is beautiful, the woman on the cover is a dusty blonde?
Though it may not seem so to the author, having a marketable cover is far more important than hair color.
I lost count of the number of covers I’ve designed after #300 a few years ago. Through the past five years as an artist for The Wild Rose Press and also as a freelance designer, I know I’ve made some less than appealing covers. I’ve also designed some award winning covers. My favorite covers usually have one thing in common. The author didn’t say, “I trust your creativity. Come up with something cool!” The author was specific as to what she wanted.
I’ve had the wonderful experience of designing several covers for the repeat authors. What I like best about these authors is that they have a clear vision in their heads of how their covers should look. A perfect example would be Sky Purington’s, The Victorian Lure. The original cover was boxy and not at all what she had in mind. When we spoke more in-depth, I was able to see into her head and create exactly what she wanted. And I’m so glad, because the final cover came out so much better than the original.
Sky here! Excellent article, Tamra. Great advice all the way through. I remember back at the beginning in ’07 when I first became published. I was so nervous about nearly everything in the publishing field. It was all so new! You were one of my first contacts and really made me feel comfortable. Enough so that I didn’t hesitate to tell you what I envisioned for my covers. Once more, thank you so much, Tamra. Here’s to the covers behind us and all the beautiful covers yet to come!
Don't forget there's a contest running. As a reminder...
The prize? A $15 voucher to Digi Books Cafe. How do you enter to win? Pretty easy. First, leave a brief comment here. Next, head over to Tamra's Cover Page. Once there, pick one cover that you find simply fabulous and email Tamra with the Title of the Book (shown on the cover) at email@example.com. The catch? You cannot email her with one of the titles in this blog post and please do not leave your answer in a comment at this blog. For Tamra's eyes only!
Contest ends Friday, April 29th, 12 PM EST.
Interested in meeting a super author? Perhaps win a prize? Head over to The Write Life next.