Well, now I know their secret.
When a publisher signs an author they give them, among many other documents, a 4-5 page sheet with all kinds of questions and inquiries about the book and what the author envisions for the cover. Those answers are given to the cover artists. Here's a sampling of questions from my publisher:
- What do your main characters look like? Describe their hair color, eye color, skin tone, etc.
- What do the villains/antagonists look like?
- Is the setting integral to the book? If so, describe it.
- Is there an item that's important to the storyline, i.e., a necklace, sword, castle, horse or coconut cup, for example. (Okay, I made the last one up but there is a coconut cup on my cover and you'll see why when you read my novel!)
- Is there anything you do NOT want on the cover? For me, I didn't want a man, even though several men are integral to the storyline, especially a sexy cop! Oh, how I fought myself about adding a uniformed hunky man to the cover. Also, Hope's hippie parents are important (and hilarious) and I considered adding their crazy peace signs and VW Microbus to the cover but I knew it would get too busy. Finally, since my novel opens on Suzy's wedding day, I thought about having a bride on the cover. There were so many possibilities! Agony. I had to refocus and decide on the gist of THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS. The genre is women's fiction with elements of romance, suspense and humor, so I wanted the focus to be on the three female main characters--Suzy, Hope and Alex.
- Would you prefer people or an object on your cover? This was the hardest question for me to answer. At first, I typed PEOPLE. Without a doubt. No hesitancy. Then, out of curiosity, I ran downstairs and looked at the books in my library, a/k/a the exercise room. I pulled 20 random books. To my surprise, the cover art was about 50/50 on people vs. objects. That told me that I'm compelled to pick up a book whether it features people or objects. So, I went back to the drawing board on my answer.
- How do you envision your cover? Give us a couple of examples of what you'd like to see. I decided I'd like to see Suzy, Alex and Hope seated around a table like they do at Coconuts, their Thursday night meeting place and that's what I got. It was strange to see how the artist envisioned their faces, which is, of course, not exactly what I had in mind. I can see why some authors go for graphics or don't show faces for this reason.
Here's my cover for THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS. It releases in ebook on August 13, 2014, by Soul Mate Publishing. A few months afterward, it will be available in print. I'll share more about my characters in June and July. Mark your calendars for a fun online launch party on August 13!
I was allowed to suggest a few tweaks--there was a plant at the end of the table and I asked the artist to replace it with pretty flowers. The drink glasses were empty and I informed her that Alex always drinks Chardonnay; Suzy drinks Cabernet, while Hope usually has a margarita, so that was changed. She also had Alex, the sassy bank marketer, in a drab brown shirt and that is so not Alex (more like Hope) so I asked her to change it to red. I love the color of my title, the font choice, and the palm fronds at the bottom. And seeing my name on the cover...I'm still pinching myself.
So, did you know the secret about cover artists? How do you envision your book cover?