Ah, covers–they can be the delight, or the bane, of an author’s publishing existence.
Generally, art departments will request that authors submit character and setting descriptions and any suggestions for the design, and in my experience so far, the art departments have been wonderful about considering the author’s ideas. OK, I’d like to think that my ideas are fantastic and the art dept. cheers in unison when my email gets to them, loaded with helpful pictures and details…but really they appreciate the jumping-off point the author’s suggestions provide, and they take it from there, since they understand not only artistic concepts but market trends. Most of the time they take it in the right direction and their decisions are a lot more savvy than mine, and most of the time I’ve been very pleased with the final cover. And relieved, yes. That too.
I anxiously await the first sight of each new cover. Usually this appears in color proof form, though sometimes early on, it’s a photocopy of the original ink sketch (the sketches I’ve seen are breathtaking, fluid and lovely line drawings, fresh and immediate and inspired. The one I have for Keeping Kate is graceful and gorgeous, but I can’t show it for legal reasons since it belongs to the artist…I asked!). After sketch and proof comes coverflat (and if you’re lucky, tons of coverflats to send out to readers!).
My cover karma has been very good on the whole, and I’m so grateful for that. Soooooooooo grateful, you have no idea…because ya just never know what you’re going to see when ya first open that FedEx envelope, or click on that jpeg file….
The foreign covers can be the most fun surprises of all. Here’s one for The Raven’s Wish in Dutch …this one looks like Roman gladiator fun in 16th century Scotland!
And here’s the Chinese edition of Angel Knight. This one’s prim and sweet, and just rather odd… with characters in modern clothes and a heroine with a 1960s style hairdo…it’s a 14th c. setting, btw.
But of all my covers, good and not-so-hot, American or foreign… the piece de resistance (found the italics but not the accent marks!) — has to be the original cover for The Raven’s Moon. I don’t know how this ended up as the cover for a novel about 16th century Scotland–it defies explanation….
A little story about Naked Gold Guy, as he’s fondly known now. This was the original cover, and after my agent, editor, and I were all done gagging — what is that, a gold garden statue?! And what is it doing on a cover about 16th century Scottish Border reivers? They would spike it with arrows if they ever came across it while out on a moonlit cattle raid–we requested that it be changed. No deal, too expensive, a commissioned painting, forget it. We got nowhere, until a certain large chain store refused to order what would have been a considerable number–claiming no way would they carry that book. Ah, money talks more sense than horrified authors. That refusal was on a Friday, and by Monday, The Raven’s Wish had a new cover–plaid and roses, and the Naked Gold Guy completely gone, either through the miracle of graphics or just cement shoes. Only his strategically placed roses remained.
Several thousand books with the Naked Gold Guy covers were printed before the change was made, and I was assured they would be recalled and buried in the warehouse somewhere. I did booksignings with both covers on display, afterward calling my editor in horror–they’re out there! OMG!– really we all had a very good laugh over it, after I got past the initial hurdle of believing my career was toast. The stepback of this book was gorgeous, btw, and the plaid-and-roses version is very nice.
But be warned, the NGG is still out there…in used bookstores on dusty shelves….
And so my tale of cover karma. I don’t know what I did in a past life to deserve that (frolicked a little too heartily in more than one grotto, perhaps?!), but in the end The Raven’s Moon got its happy ending after all…complete with plaid and roses.
Wenches, I’ll continue Jo’s challenge — what’s the worst cover fiasco you’ve had?
Susan Sarah, experiencing glitches with line spacing in her blog posts due to AOL and other ‘puter issues, and sending ‘pologies if the post doesn’t look quite right….