I know “cover art” is a topic everyone loves to discuss, and since I need to come up with a hasty blog and just had my editor ask for input on the next Mystic Isle book, I thought I’d give a quickie update on how the art for this series is working out.
For Mystic Guardian, I found a fabulous painting of a Hawaiian island
that I sent to my editor when she requested suggestions. My cover art for my July books is usually discussed in August. In theory, by then my editor has read the book and can talk to the committee that develops my “look.” In actuality, my editor usually hasn’t had time to read the book and all she knows about it is from the proposal. But I’ve been with my historical publisher for a long time, and they have a pretty clear understanding of what I do, and
try to keep my “look” within certain parameters—a monochromatic color base, “earth” scenes, special effects. My books will have horses or ships in the foreground, but seldom people.
For Guardian, my editor decided to go for a slightly different effect and float the image of a man’s face above the usual scenery, which makes sense for a fantasy hero. The art department picked up the mist and island ideas from the image I sent them. One assumes the gray color scheme reflects the fog that conceals the island.
For my second book, Mystic Rider, (which was originally Mystic Stargazer until some marketing person decided heroes don’t gaze at stars) I gave my editor the following cursory description of images to be found in the book: “I have Ian wearing a monk’s cowl rather than a frock coat in much of the book. He tames a wild stallion. Chantal’s music is a major theme. Ian uses an oak staff as weapon more than his sword. He "reads" the stars and uses martial art exercises stripped naked on dark hills to concentrate on his readings. <G> They flee France in a carriage and a ship. Maybe a coach and horses fleeing through the mist to keep with the misty look? And a dollop of red somewhere to denote escalating violence?”
So, guess which image they chose? Got it in one, if you said “stripped naked on dark hills.” The art isn’t done yet, but I may be moving back to people covers. And the committee idled a hot August afternoon with some very bad puns on the hero’s “staff.” Should be interesting to see what a hot August afternoon produces in the way of covers.
I know some of you have asked about the blurbs on the back of our books, but I don’t know all the in-between machinations that produce it. In my proposals, assuming marketing doesn’t read my books, I try to send “concept” paragraphs that describe the characters and basic conflict. Someone writes up the cover copy. My editor edits it and sends it to me. I tear it apart and send it back. We compromise somewhere in the middle. But this is not necessarily the process all publishers follow, so don’t take anything in this business as gospel.
There is a discussion elsewhere about publishing believing animals sell books. Are you more likely to pick up a book with an animal on it? A person? Scenery? Do you have a favorite cover?