A Makeover for Lady M

137_3774 Susan Sarah here … we’ve discussed covers before at Word Wenches, and I’d like to revisit the wonderful world of cover art, with a twist — not to look at lots of lovely, lovely covers (and we Wenches have been collectively VERY fortunate in terms of cover karma!) — but this time to toss around some ideas and to hear what you all think about cover art for mainstream historicals, rather than romance covers for now.

The trade paperback edition of LADY MACBETH will be out next spring, and the publisher is whipping up fresh back cover copy and choosing clips from the reviews and quotes for the book … and they’re discussing cover art. Instead of a "Mini-Me" version of the hardcover jacket art, the trade paper edition may get a whole new cover. They haven’t decided about that yet, but the possibility seems strong. And they’ve asked me for ideas and input, so I’ve been thinking about it ….

Ladymacbeth_new  I have ideas and images to suggest to the art dept., but I’d love to hear what readers think. LADY MACBETH is a mainstream historical, falling within the range of fictionalized biography; these novels are primarily female-centric historical fiction, focusing on actual historical women. What sort of covers work best for these books? And in particular, what would suit the historical Lady Macbeth?

I am a sucker for a beautiful cover, whether original cover art or a fine art reproduction. I drool over color, design, composition, motif and theme, and I’ve sometimes purchased a book on the strength of a gorgeous or at least successful and fascinating cover. And I love the fine art covers often seen on mainstream female-centric historical fiction. The art historian in me (with thousands of artworks somehow still catalogued and computerized in my brain) loves wandering through bookstores looking at the virtual galleries of cover art displayed on front tables and racks.

Wenches Susan/Miranda and Edith have had gorgeous portrait and fine art covers for their mainstream novels (see sidebar), and Mary Jo has also had gorgeous covers for her hardcover fantasy historical romances. Susan/MIranda is lucky enough to have actual portraits of the main characters of her novels–not everyone has the advantage of cover art by Sir Peter Lely!

Queenemma From the first, the art for LADY MACBETH posed a dilemma for the art department, with that early the 11th century setting. No contemporary portraits existed, and 11th century art, while beautiful in its own right, looks downright academic on a juicy novel, without the impact of a Waterhouse or a Rossetti, let alone a vibrant Lely portrait. So the landscape art for the hardcover jacket of LADY MACBETH was a wonderful solution — evocative, exciting, and very striking. 

If we’re not going to see the golden tones of the Lady Macbeth castle cover, what then? What sort of image might evoke my 11th century Lady Macbeth, and be marketable, interesting, striking cover art? Would a fine art image of a lovely, poignant or compelling anonymous woman, probably done in the 19th century, be right for this book? Some art depts. love to portray women with heads partly or completely missing (thisCastle_moy especially suits some Tudors), but I don’t think that’s the look for Lady Macbeth. Considering the time period of my book, we could see a swatch of the Bayeux Tapestry, or a manuscript illumination. Or another Scottishy landscape or castle. Not sure those work either for the trade edition.

Secretly I long for a lush, painterly, romantic and gorgeous Pre-Raphaelite image, though that may not Waterhousecrystalball Yseultdicksee happen — some publishers think that trend is winding down, and they’re searching for new looks. ::sigh:: All the Waterhouses were taken by the time my book came out.

Have so many beautiful fine art images appeared on bookcovers by now that the fresh, breathtaking impact (though individually and indisputably gorgeous) is diluted? We see repetitions in fine art covers, no question. Partly this is due to the finite number of available and suitable images, and art departments looking at the same sources — and the permissions of museums and collections can be expensive and may come with conditions that limit and influence what shows up on a cover.

What cover styles do you prefer for hardcover and trade historical female-centric fiction? (whew, that’s a mouthful). Are you a fan of fine art portrayals of women for historical books, or are you over them and attracted by something more unexpected? Does a fine art cover signal to you what sort of read it is, and is that a good thing, or a tired thing?  Do you like landscape covers for their power to evoke a time and place, or do you find them a little distancing, and prefer the immediacy of a human image?

And the art dept. would love to know, and I would too — what sorts of covers capture your interest as a reader looking for a good historical novel, and does it influence you to buy the book? Thanks for any and all suggestions!

Susan Sarah

75 thoughts on “A Makeover for Lady M”

  1. I think the present cover is very striking and appealing to the reader. Since there are no contemporary portraits, and the art of the time is unlikely to draw the modern reader, I suggest a piece of jewelry of the period. I believe the Scottish Crown of the period no longer exists, but there are no doubt plenty of contemporary pieces in the British Museum. You should let our Silver Tigress, who is a leading authority in the field of ancient jewelry (and jewellery as well!) make a selection for you.

    Reply
  2. I think the present cover is very striking and appealing to the reader. Since there are no contemporary portraits, and the art of the time is unlikely to draw the modern reader, I suggest a piece of jewelry of the period. I believe the Scottish Crown of the period no longer exists, but there are no doubt plenty of contemporary pieces in the British Museum. You should let our Silver Tigress, who is a leading authority in the field of ancient jewelry (and jewellery as well!) make a selection for you.

    Reply
  3. I think the present cover is very striking and appealing to the reader. Since there are no contemporary portraits, and the art of the time is unlikely to draw the modern reader, I suggest a piece of jewelry of the period. I believe the Scottish Crown of the period no longer exists, but there are no doubt plenty of contemporary pieces in the British Museum. You should let our Silver Tigress, who is a leading authority in the field of ancient jewelry (and jewellery as well!) make a selection for you.

    Reply
  4. I think the present cover is very striking and appealing to the reader. Since there are no contemporary portraits, and the art of the time is unlikely to draw the modern reader, I suggest a piece of jewelry of the period. I believe the Scottish Crown of the period no longer exists, but there are no doubt plenty of contemporary pieces in the British Museum. You should let our Silver Tigress, who is a leading authority in the field of ancient jewelry (and jewellery as well!) make a selection for you.

    Reply
  5. I think the present cover is very striking and appealing to the reader. Since there are no contemporary portraits, and the art of the time is unlikely to draw the modern reader, I suggest a piece of jewelry of the period. I believe the Scottish Crown of the period no longer exists, but there are no doubt plenty of contemporary pieces in the British Museum. You should let our Silver Tigress, who is a leading authority in the field of ancient jewelry (and jewellery as well!) make a selection for you.

    Reply
  6. I personally find an image of a woman in historical dress on the cover the biggest draw. I don’t know enough art history to recognize them. Actually, when I do recognize them, it can be distracting.
    My favorite type is the “dreamy” woman such as the ones on Loretta’s Avon books, but any woman in historical dress is going to catch my eye. The use of colors can help too – e.g. the covers that Ballantine has done for Susan Carroll. I don’t like the trend for just showing the torso without the head, but I can live with it. A landscape shot is my second favorite.
    I adore illuminated manuscripts, but I do wonder if that would have limited appeal.

    Reply
  7. I personally find an image of a woman in historical dress on the cover the biggest draw. I don’t know enough art history to recognize them. Actually, when I do recognize them, it can be distracting.
    My favorite type is the “dreamy” woman such as the ones on Loretta’s Avon books, but any woman in historical dress is going to catch my eye. The use of colors can help too – e.g. the covers that Ballantine has done for Susan Carroll. I don’t like the trend for just showing the torso without the head, but I can live with it. A landscape shot is my second favorite.
    I adore illuminated manuscripts, but I do wonder if that would have limited appeal.

    Reply
  8. I personally find an image of a woman in historical dress on the cover the biggest draw. I don’t know enough art history to recognize them. Actually, when I do recognize them, it can be distracting.
    My favorite type is the “dreamy” woman such as the ones on Loretta’s Avon books, but any woman in historical dress is going to catch my eye. The use of colors can help too – e.g. the covers that Ballantine has done for Susan Carroll. I don’t like the trend for just showing the torso without the head, but I can live with it. A landscape shot is my second favorite.
    I adore illuminated manuscripts, but I do wonder if that would have limited appeal.

    Reply
  9. I personally find an image of a woman in historical dress on the cover the biggest draw. I don’t know enough art history to recognize them. Actually, when I do recognize them, it can be distracting.
    My favorite type is the “dreamy” woman such as the ones on Loretta’s Avon books, but any woman in historical dress is going to catch my eye. The use of colors can help too – e.g. the covers that Ballantine has done for Susan Carroll. I don’t like the trend for just showing the torso without the head, but I can live with it. A landscape shot is my second favorite.
    I adore illuminated manuscripts, but I do wonder if that would have limited appeal.

    Reply
  10. I personally find an image of a woman in historical dress on the cover the biggest draw. I don’t know enough art history to recognize them. Actually, when I do recognize them, it can be distracting.
    My favorite type is the “dreamy” woman such as the ones on Loretta’s Avon books, but any woman in historical dress is going to catch my eye. The use of colors can help too – e.g. the covers that Ballantine has done for Susan Carroll. I don’t like the trend for just showing the torso without the head, but I can live with it. A landscape shot is my second favorite.
    I adore illuminated manuscripts, but I do wonder if that would have limited appeal.

    Reply
  11. I’m schizophrenic here. The publishing professional part of me understands marketing’s point that the fine-art covers might have peaked–but I love them anyhow. The cover and richness really catch my eye in a store.
    Lovely as those pensive Waterhouse paintings are, they don’t strike me as right for Rue. I’d want to see a Pre-Raphaelite Warrior Queen, beautiful but fierce.
    But Talpianna’s suggestion that the Tigress suggest some period jewelry is also an excellent one. That could be beautiful -and- different.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  12. I’m schizophrenic here. The publishing professional part of me understands marketing’s point that the fine-art covers might have peaked–but I love them anyhow. The cover and richness really catch my eye in a store.
    Lovely as those pensive Waterhouse paintings are, they don’t strike me as right for Rue. I’d want to see a Pre-Raphaelite Warrior Queen, beautiful but fierce.
    But Talpianna’s suggestion that the Tigress suggest some period jewelry is also an excellent one. That could be beautiful -and- different.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  13. I’m schizophrenic here. The publishing professional part of me understands marketing’s point that the fine-art covers might have peaked–but I love them anyhow. The cover and richness really catch my eye in a store.
    Lovely as those pensive Waterhouse paintings are, they don’t strike me as right for Rue. I’d want to see a Pre-Raphaelite Warrior Queen, beautiful but fierce.
    But Talpianna’s suggestion that the Tigress suggest some period jewelry is also an excellent one. That could be beautiful -and- different.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  14. I’m schizophrenic here. The publishing professional part of me understands marketing’s point that the fine-art covers might have peaked–but I love them anyhow. The cover and richness really catch my eye in a store.
    Lovely as those pensive Waterhouse paintings are, they don’t strike me as right for Rue. I’d want to see a Pre-Raphaelite Warrior Queen, beautiful but fierce.
    But Talpianna’s suggestion that the Tigress suggest some period jewelry is also an excellent one. That could be beautiful -and- different.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  15. I’m schizophrenic here. The publishing professional part of me understands marketing’s point that the fine-art covers might have peaked–but I love them anyhow. The cover and richness really catch my eye in a store.
    Lovely as those pensive Waterhouse paintings are, they don’t strike me as right for Rue. I’d want to see a Pre-Raphaelite Warrior Queen, beautiful but fierce.
    But Talpianna’s suggestion that the Tigress suggest some period jewelry is also an excellent one. That could be beautiful -and- different.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  16. Rosetti did some water colors that seem to me to capture a more authentically medieval look than his later oils did. Some of his wife, Lizzie Siddal’s, work also has that look. It’d be kind of cool to pair Mrs. Rosetti with Mrs. McBeth.
    Personally, I’d love to see an authentic 11th C. piece of art on the cover. Just because AT THIS TIME that looks “academic” to people doesn’t mean that it always will, and someone will have to be the first to break medieval art out of the academic ghetto. To my mind, the art would be a great match for the feeling of authenticity you’ve captured in your depiction of medieval life, so to have that on the cover would be very appropriate and would probably attract readers who would appreciate it.
    It’s funny how conservative publishers seem to be about that element of newness, and yet whenever there’s a really phenomenal success, there it is! Maybe I don’t mean “funny”; maybe I mean “sad”!

    Reply
  17. Rosetti did some water colors that seem to me to capture a more authentically medieval look than his later oils did. Some of his wife, Lizzie Siddal’s, work also has that look. It’d be kind of cool to pair Mrs. Rosetti with Mrs. McBeth.
    Personally, I’d love to see an authentic 11th C. piece of art on the cover. Just because AT THIS TIME that looks “academic” to people doesn’t mean that it always will, and someone will have to be the first to break medieval art out of the academic ghetto. To my mind, the art would be a great match for the feeling of authenticity you’ve captured in your depiction of medieval life, so to have that on the cover would be very appropriate and would probably attract readers who would appreciate it.
    It’s funny how conservative publishers seem to be about that element of newness, and yet whenever there’s a really phenomenal success, there it is! Maybe I don’t mean “funny”; maybe I mean “sad”!

    Reply
  18. Rosetti did some water colors that seem to me to capture a more authentically medieval look than his later oils did. Some of his wife, Lizzie Siddal’s, work also has that look. It’d be kind of cool to pair Mrs. Rosetti with Mrs. McBeth.
    Personally, I’d love to see an authentic 11th C. piece of art on the cover. Just because AT THIS TIME that looks “academic” to people doesn’t mean that it always will, and someone will have to be the first to break medieval art out of the academic ghetto. To my mind, the art would be a great match for the feeling of authenticity you’ve captured in your depiction of medieval life, so to have that on the cover would be very appropriate and would probably attract readers who would appreciate it.
    It’s funny how conservative publishers seem to be about that element of newness, and yet whenever there’s a really phenomenal success, there it is! Maybe I don’t mean “funny”; maybe I mean “sad”!

    Reply
  19. Rosetti did some water colors that seem to me to capture a more authentically medieval look than his later oils did. Some of his wife, Lizzie Siddal’s, work also has that look. It’d be kind of cool to pair Mrs. Rosetti with Mrs. McBeth.
    Personally, I’d love to see an authentic 11th C. piece of art on the cover. Just because AT THIS TIME that looks “academic” to people doesn’t mean that it always will, and someone will have to be the first to break medieval art out of the academic ghetto. To my mind, the art would be a great match for the feeling of authenticity you’ve captured in your depiction of medieval life, so to have that on the cover would be very appropriate and would probably attract readers who would appreciate it.
    It’s funny how conservative publishers seem to be about that element of newness, and yet whenever there’s a really phenomenal success, there it is! Maybe I don’t mean “funny”; maybe I mean “sad”!

    Reply
  20. Rosetti did some water colors that seem to me to capture a more authentically medieval look than his later oils did. Some of his wife, Lizzie Siddal’s, work also has that look. It’d be kind of cool to pair Mrs. Rosetti with Mrs. McBeth.
    Personally, I’d love to see an authentic 11th C. piece of art on the cover. Just because AT THIS TIME that looks “academic” to people doesn’t mean that it always will, and someone will have to be the first to break medieval art out of the academic ghetto. To my mind, the art would be a great match for the feeling of authenticity you’ve captured in your depiction of medieval life, so to have that on the cover would be very appropriate and would probably attract readers who would appreciate it.
    It’s funny how conservative publishers seem to be about that element of newness, and yet whenever there’s a really phenomenal success, there it is! Maybe I don’t mean “funny”; maybe I mean “sad”!

    Reply
  21. While I utterly adore a rich, evocative oil painting, I’m not at all certain that it would catch my eye in a crowded bookstore. A book jacket needs to leap out at the casual peruser, scream “this is your kind of book!” A dramatic silhouette of Rue holding a sword against a mountain backdrop would say “warrior woman” “Scotland” “women’s fiction.” So maybe you should think in terms of symbols. While jewelry is lovely, does that say Rue? Swords, Celtic magic, Scotland, tragedy, triumph… look for keywords.

    Reply
  22. While I utterly adore a rich, evocative oil painting, I’m not at all certain that it would catch my eye in a crowded bookstore. A book jacket needs to leap out at the casual peruser, scream “this is your kind of book!” A dramatic silhouette of Rue holding a sword against a mountain backdrop would say “warrior woman” “Scotland” “women’s fiction.” So maybe you should think in terms of symbols. While jewelry is lovely, does that say Rue? Swords, Celtic magic, Scotland, tragedy, triumph… look for keywords.

    Reply
  23. While I utterly adore a rich, evocative oil painting, I’m not at all certain that it would catch my eye in a crowded bookstore. A book jacket needs to leap out at the casual peruser, scream “this is your kind of book!” A dramatic silhouette of Rue holding a sword against a mountain backdrop would say “warrior woman” “Scotland” “women’s fiction.” So maybe you should think in terms of symbols. While jewelry is lovely, does that say Rue? Swords, Celtic magic, Scotland, tragedy, triumph… look for keywords.

    Reply
  24. While I utterly adore a rich, evocative oil painting, I’m not at all certain that it would catch my eye in a crowded bookstore. A book jacket needs to leap out at the casual peruser, scream “this is your kind of book!” A dramatic silhouette of Rue holding a sword against a mountain backdrop would say “warrior woman” “Scotland” “women’s fiction.” So maybe you should think in terms of symbols. While jewelry is lovely, does that say Rue? Swords, Celtic magic, Scotland, tragedy, triumph… look for keywords.

    Reply
  25. While I utterly adore a rich, evocative oil painting, I’m not at all certain that it would catch my eye in a crowded bookstore. A book jacket needs to leap out at the casual peruser, scream “this is your kind of book!” A dramatic silhouette of Rue holding a sword against a mountain backdrop would say “warrior woman” “Scotland” “women’s fiction.” So maybe you should think in terms of symbols. While jewelry is lovely, does that say Rue? Swords, Celtic magic, Scotland, tragedy, triumph… look for keywords.

    Reply
  26. Wonderful, thought-provoking comments, thanks!
    Tal, I like your suggestion of jewelry, and the pieces found at Sutton Hoo, along with early Celtic work immediately come to mind, including the Hunterston brooch as well, which I believe is early Scottish work. Silver Tigress found a gorgeous photo of it, thanks! Not that early, and they would have kept jewelry in the family for generations.
    It happens to be like a brooch described in the novel, since I had the Hunterston in mind at the time. 😉
    I agree with many of you, I love the fine art covers even if publishers think they might be less effective with so many grouped in the bookstore displays. Fine art covers will never get old, imho.
    And as Pat says, it has to leap out and catch attention — even while all the book covers are intended to do that — though I still think this can be accomplished with a gorgeous piece of art.
    Thanks for the suggestions. I’d love to know what all of you think about current trends in mainstream historical covers.
    Personally I think we’re seeing a heyday of absolutely beautiful covers from publishers across the board. They’re not really all alike, and I hope the fine art trend continues for a long time.
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  27. Wonderful, thought-provoking comments, thanks!
    Tal, I like your suggestion of jewelry, and the pieces found at Sutton Hoo, along with early Celtic work immediately come to mind, including the Hunterston brooch as well, which I believe is early Scottish work. Silver Tigress found a gorgeous photo of it, thanks! Not that early, and they would have kept jewelry in the family for generations.
    It happens to be like a brooch described in the novel, since I had the Hunterston in mind at the time. 😉
    I agree with many of you, I love the fine art covers even if publishers think they might be less effective with so many grouped in the bookstore displays. Fine art covers will never get old, imho.
    And as Pat says, it has to leap out and catch attention — even while all the book covers are intended to do that — though I still think this can be accomplished with a gorgeous piece of art.
    Thanks for the suggestions. I’d love to know what all of you think about current trends in mainstream historical covers.
    Personally I think we’re seeing a heyday of absolutely beautiful covers from publishers across the board. They’re not really all alike, and I hope the fine art trend continues for a long time.
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  28. Wonderful, thought-provoking comments, thanks!
    Tal, I like your suggestion of jewelry, and the pieces found at Sutton Hoo, along with early Celtic work immediately come to mind, including the Hunterston brooch as well, which I believe is early Scottish work. Silver Tigress found a gorgeous photo of it, thanks! Not that early, and they would have kept jewelry in the family for generations.
    It happens to be like a brooch described in the novel, since I had the Hunterston in mind at the time. 😉
    I agree with many of you, I love the fine art covers even if publishers think they might be less effective with so many grouped in the bookstore displays. Fine art covers will never get old, imho.
    And as Pat says, it has to leap out and catch attention — even while all the book covers are intended to do that — though I still think this can be accomplished with a gorgeous piece of art.
    Thanks for the suggestions. I’d love to know what all of you think about current trends in mainstream historical covers.
    Personally I think we’re seeing a heyday of absolutely beautiful covers from publishers across the board. They’re not really all alike, and I hope the fine art trend continues for a long time.
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  29. Wonderful, thought-provoking comments, thanks!
    Tal, I like your suggestion of jewelry, and the pieces found at Sutton Hoo, along with early Celtic work immediately come to mind, including the Hunterston brooch as well, which I believe is early Scottish work. Silver Tigress found a gorgeous photo of it, thanks! Not that early, and they would have kept jewelry in the family for generations.
    It happens to be like a brooch described in the novel, since I had the Hunterston in mind at the time. 😉
    I agree with many of you, I love the fine art covers even if publishers think they might be less effective with so many grouped in the bookstore displays. Fine art covers will never get old, imho.
    And as Pat says, it has to leap out and catch attention — even while all the book covers are intended to do that — though I still think this can be accomplished with a gorgeous piece of art.
    Thanks for the suggestions. I’d love to know what all of you think about current trends in mainstream historical covers.
    Personally I think we’re seeing a heyday of absolutely beautiful covers from publishers across the board. They’re not really all alike, and I hope the fine art trend continues for a long time.
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  30. Wonderful, thought-provoking comments, thanks!
    Tal, I like your suggestion of jewelry, and the pieces found at Sutton Hoo, along with early Celtic work immediately come to mind, including the Hunterston brooch as well, which I believe is early Scottish work. Silver Tigress found a gorgeous photo of it, thanks! Not that early, and they would have kept jewelry in the family for generations.
    It happens to be like a brooch described in the novel, since I had the Hunterston in mind at the time. 😉
    I agree with many of you, I love the fine art covers even if publishers think they might be less effective with so many grouped in the bookstore displays. Fine art covers will never get old, imho.
    And as Pat says, it has to leap out and catch attention — even while all the book covers are intended to do that — though I still think this can be accomplished with a gorgeous piece of art.
    Thanks for the suggestions. I’d love to know what all of you think about current trends in mainstream historical covers.
    Personally I think we’re seeing a heyday of absolutely beautiful covers from publishers across the board. They’re not really all alike, and I hope the fine art trend continues for a long time.
    Susan Sarah

    Reply
  31. Color catches my eye first. That painting of the lady in the red gown would draw my attention immediately. If the book is a romance, or a book that’s centered around a woman’s life & viewpoint, then I would like to see a woman on the cover. I am afraid I’m not much on scenic covers — they’re too cold, too impersonal. The same for “artifact” covers — swords and jewels and all that. When I’m looking for romance or women’s fiction, I would expect to see clear cues that the book is about a woman, and is not from a totally hostile viewpoint. It doesn’t matter to me if the painting is a known classic work of art or something painted last week, as long as it has color and life to it, and it has a woman in it. The only covers I actively dislike are those cartoony ones, as they all look like Wheat Thins ads to me.

    Reply
  32. Color catches my eye first. That painting of the lady in the red gown would draw my attention immediately. If the book is a romance, or a book that’s centered around a woman’s life & viewpoint, then I would like to see a woman on the cover. I am afraid I’m not much on scenic covers — they’re too cold, too impersonal. The same for “artifact” covers — swords and jewels and all that. When I’m looking for romance or women’s fiction, I would expect to see clear cues that the book is about a woman, and is not from a totally hostile viewpoint. It doesn’t matter to me if the painting is a known classic work of art or something painted last week, as long as it has color and life to it, and it has a woman in it. The only covers I actively dislike are those cartoony ones, as they all look like Wheat Thins ads to me.

    Reply
  33. Color catches my eye first. That painting of the lady in the red gown would draw my attention immediately. If the book is a romance, or a book that’s centered around a woman’s life & viewpoint, then I would like to see a woman on the cover. I am afraid I’m not much on scenic covers — they’re too cold, too impersonal. The same for “artifact” covers — swords and jewels and all that. When I’m looking for romance or women’s fiction, I would expect to see clear cues that the book is about a woman, and is not from a totally hostile viewpoint. It doesn’t matter to me if the painting is a known classic work of art or something painted last week, as long as it has color and life to it, and it has a woman in it. The only covers I actively dislike are those cartoony ones, as they all look like Wheat Thins ads to me.

    Reply
  34. Color catches my eye first. That painting of the lady in the red gown would draw my attention immediately. If the book is a romance, or a book that’s centered around a woman’s life & viewpoint, then I would like to see a woman on the cover. I am afraid I’m not much on scenic covers — they’re too cold, too impersonal. The same for “artifact” covers — swords and jewels and all that. When I’m looking for romance or women’s fiction, I would expect to see clear cues that the book is about a woman, and is not from a totally hostile viewpoint. It doesn’t matter to me if the painting is a known classic work of art or something painted last week, as long as it has color and life to it, and it has a woman in it. The only covers I actively dislike are those cartoony ones, as they all look like Wheat Thins ads to me.

    Reply
  35. Color catches my eye first. That painting of the lady in the red gown would draw my attention immediately. If the book is a romance, or a book that’s centered around a woman’s life & viewpoint, then I would like to see a woman on the cover. I am afraid I’m not much on scenic covers — they’re too cold, too impersonal. The same for “artifact” covers — swords and jewels and all that. When I’m looking for romance or women’s fiction, I would expect to see clear cues that the book is about a woman, and is not from a totally hostile viewpoint. It doesn’t matter to me if the painting is a known classic work of art or something painted last week, as long as it has color and life to it, and it has a woman in it. The only covers I actively dislike are those cartoony ones, as they all look like Wheat Thins ads to me.

    Reply
  36. Good evening,
    Though the Pre-Raphaelite images would be lovely, I think they are too soft to do Lady Macbeth justice.
    Here are a few images I’ve found which I think are interesting…
    1.) British Library (www.bl.uk): Base of the Luttrell Psalter (Page 30): tinyurl.com/4vmj3y Where to look: See all those little people at table at the bottom of the page? I love it…the forms of the figures brings the viewer closer to the time…though it probably isn’t a good mood-setter.
    2.) British Library (www.bl.uk): Lady Alice Kerr, Portrait of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, 1860s: tinyurl.com/4kogfy
    3.) Wikipedia: Coin with profile of Queen Cynethryth (House of Mercia 774-796): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynethryth An Art Director could have some fun with that image.
    4.) Wikipedia: Now Johann Heinrich Füssli’s painting, Macbeth
    Acte V, sc.1 (1794): tinyurl.com/4k2n3
    5.) Photograph of the actress Helena Modjeska as Lady Macbeth from an 1897 Production: tinyurl.com/3gcqk3
    6.) And here is a list from Emory University of paintings about The Scottish Play: tinyurl.com/6rvtor
    Happy hunting!

    Reply
  37. Good evening,
    Though the Pre-Raphaelite images would be lovely, I think they are too soft to do Lady Macbeth justice.
    Here are a few images I’ve found which I think are interesting…
    1.) British Library (www.bl.uk): Base of the Luttrell Psalter (Page 30): tinyurl.com/4vmj3y Where to look: See all those little people at table at the bottom of the page? I love it…the forms of the figures brings the viewer closer to the time…though it probably isn’t a good mood-setter.
    2.) British Library (www.bl.uk): Lady Alice Kerr, Portrait of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, 1860s: tinyurl.com/4kogfy
    3.) Wikipedia: Coin with profile of Queen Cynethryth (House of Mercia 774-796): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynethryth An Art Director could have some fun with that image.
    4.) Wikipedia: Now Johann Heinrich Füssli’s painting, Macbeth
    Acte V, sc.1 (1794): tinyurl.com/4k2n3
    5.) Photograph of the actress Helena Modjeska as Lady Macbeth from an 1897 Production: tinyurl.com/3gcqk3
    6.) And here is a list from Emory University of paintings about The Scottish Play: tinyurl.com/6rvtor
    Happy hunting!

    Reply
  38. Good evening,
    Though the Pre-Raphaelite images would be lovely, I think they are too soft to do Lady Macbeth justice.
    Here are a few images I’ve found which I think are interesting…
    1.) British Library (www.bl.uk): Base of the Luttrell Psalter (Page 30): tinyurl.com/4vmj3y Where to look: See all those little people at table at the bottom of the page? I love it…the forms of the figures brings the viewer closer to the time…though it probably isn’t a good mood-setter.
    2.) British Library (www.bl.uk): Lady Alice Kerr, Portrait of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, 1860s: tinyurl.com/4kogfy
    3.) Wikipedia: Coin with profile of Queen Cynethryth (House of Mercia 774-796): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynethryth An Art Director could have some fun with that image.
    4.) Wikipedia: Now Johann Heinrich Füssli’s painting, Macbeth
    Acte V, sc.1 (1794): tinyurl.com/4k2n3
    5.) Photograph of the actress Helena Modjeska as Lady Macbeth from an 1897 Production: tinyurl.com/3gcqk3
    6.) And here is a list from Emory University of paintings about The Scottish Play: tinyurl.com/6rvtor
    Happy hunting!

    Reply
  39. Good evening,
    Though the Pre-Raphaelite images would be lovely, I think they are too soft to do Lady Macbeth justice.
    Here are a few images I’ve found which I think are interesting…
    1.) British Library (www.bl.uk): Base of the Luttrell Psalter (Page 30): tinyurl.com/4vmj3y Where to look: See all those little people at table at the bottom of the page? I love it…the forms of the figures brings the viewer closer to the time…though it probably isn’t a good mood-setter.
    2.) British Library (www.bl.uk): Lady Alice Kerr, Portrait of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, 1860s: tinyurl.com/4kogfy
    3.) Wikipedia: Coin with profile of Queen Cynethryth (House of Mercia 774-796): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynethryth An Art Director could have some fun with that image.
    4.) Wikipedia: Now Johann Heinrich Füssli’s painting, Macbeth
    Acte V, sc.1 (1794): tinyurl.com/4k2n3
    5.) Photograph of the actress Helena Modjeska as Lady Macbeth from an 1897 Production: tinyurl.com/3gcqk3
    6.) And here is a list from Emory University of paintings about The Scottish Play: tinyurl.com/6rvtor
    Happy hunting!

    Reply
  40. Good evening,
    Though the Pre-Raphaelite images would be lovely, I think they are too soft to do Lady Macbeth justice.
    Here are a few images I’ve found which I think are interesting…
    1.) British Library (www.bl.uk): Base of the Luttrell Psalter (Page 30): tinyurl.com/4vmj3y Where to look: See all those little people at table at the bottom of the page? I love it…the forms of the figures brings the viewer closer to the time…though it probably isn’t a good mood-setter.
    2.) British Library (www.bl.uk): Lady Alice Kerr, Portrait of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, 1860s: tinyurl.com/4kogfy
    3.) Wikipedia: Coin with profile of Queen Cynethryth (House of Mercia 774-796): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynethryth An Art Director could have some fun with that image.
    4.) Wikipedia: Now Johann Heinrich Füssli’s painting, Macbeth
    Acte V, sc.1 (1794): tinyurl.com/4k2n3
    5.) Photograph of the actress Helena Modjeska as Lady Macbeth from an 1897 Production: tinyurl.com/3gcqk3
    6.) And here is a list from Emory University of paintings about The Scottish Play: tinyurl.com/6rvtor
    Happy hunting!

    Reply
  41. Folks,
    Word Wenches’ very able filter wouldn’t allow me to post the URLs that are sprinkled throughout the post about with the http:// prefix.
    This means that to see the pages that I offer as ideas, you will have to add the http:// in front of all the urls.
    But for that prefix, the URLs are intact and complete.
    Best to you all.

    Reply
  42. Folks,
    Word Wenches’ very able filter wouldn’t allow me to post the URLs that are sprinkled throughout the post about with the http:// prefix.
    This means that to see the pages that I offer as ideas, you will have to add the http:// in front of all the urls.
    But for that prefix, the URLs are intact and complete.
    Best to you all.

    Reply
  43. Folks,
    Word Wenches’ very able filter wouldn’t allow me to post the URLs that are sprinkled throughout the post about with the http:// prefix.
    This means that to see the pages that I offer as ideas, you will have to add the http:// in front of all the urls.
    But for that prefix, the URLs are intact and complete.
    Best to you all.

    Reply
  44. Folks,
    Word Wenches’ very able filter wouldn’t allow me to post the URLs that are sprinkled throughout the post about with the http:// prefix.
    This means that to see the pages that I offer as ideas, you will have to add the http:// in front of all the urls.
    But for that prefix, the URLs are intact and complete.
    Best to you all.

    Reply
  45. Folks,
    Word Wenches’ very able filter wouldn’t allow me to post the URLs that are sprinkled throughout the post about with the http:// prefix.
    This means that to see the pages that I offer as ideas, you will have to add the http:// in front of all the urls.
    But for that prefix, the URLs are intact and complete.
    Best to you all.

    Reply
  46. I think the hardback cover is both attractive and appropriate, but then, in general, I prefer landscapes and artefacts to ‘people pictures’. Landscapes in particular can often convey mood and atmosphere far more effectively and memorably than humans emoting incontinently all over the place.
    I never allow the picture on the cover to influence me in any way: many of my favourite novels were first issued in unspeakably, embarrassingly repulsive covers. and a cover picture alone would never be the trigger either to make me pick up a book or to prevent me from doing so. All the same, it is gratifying when a good book does have an aesthetically pleasing image on the front, and one that is in harmony with the text itself.
    The Luttrell Psalter (and also the wonderful Macclesfield Psalter, recently acquired by the Fitzwilliam Museum) certainly have some really gorgeous, eye-catching medieval images, but they are simply much too late, surely? They are 14th-century texts. There are some eye-catching details from manuscripts of the right century (the British Library website has a basic catalogue of its MS online, with sample images), but I feel sure that the average publisher’s art department would find them too ‘dry’, and prefer a lot of Rossetti or Burne Jones red velvet and swooning, druggy claustrophobia.
    It’s true that an earlier medieval artefact, like the Hunterston brooch, can be justified on the basis that it was still in use a couple of centuries after its manufacture. Sutton Hoo would not really work, at least in Britain, because the objects are too well-known, and are so strongly (and correctly) associated with ENGLAND in contradistinction to Scotland, Wales and Ireland. They are also much too early, as well as being culturally Anglo-Saxon. It would not only be archaeologists who would expect a book with the purse-lid or the shoulder-clasps on the front to be about the East Anglian rulers of the 7th century, not the Scottish ones of the 11th.
    In terms of personal taste, I heartily dislike the pre-Raphaelites, but aside from that, their form of mushy, sentimental Victorian pseudo-medievalism seems to me exceptionally ill-suited to the gritty and savage realities of early-medieval Scotland. For the record – and this could be important if a UK edition with the same cover is planned – the pre-Raphaelites, though probably rather better tolerated here now than they were 30 years ago, are still FAR less popular in the UK than they are in the USA.

    Reply
  47. I think the hardback cover is both attractive and appropriate, but then, in general, I prefer landscapes and artefacts to ‘people pictures’. Landscapes in particular can often convey mood and atmosphere far more effectively and memorably than humans emoting incontinently all over the place.
    I never allow the picture on the cover to influence me in any way: many of my favourite novels were first issued in unspeakably, embarrassingly repulsive covers. and a cover picture alone would never be the trigger either to make me pick up a book or to prevent me from doing so. All the same, it is gratifying when a good book does have an aesthetically pleasing image on the front, and one that is in harmony with the text itself.
    The Luttrell Psalter (and also the wonderful Macclesfield Psalter, recently acquired by the Fitzwilliam Museum) certainly have some really gorgeous, eye-catching medieval images, but they are simply much too late, surely? They are 14th-century texts. There are some eye-catching details from manuscripts of the right century (the British Library website has a basic catalogue of its MS online, with sample images), but I feel sure that the average publisher’s art department would find them too ‘dry’, and prefer a lot of Rossetti or Burne Jones red velvet and swooning, druggy claustrophobia.
    It’s true that an earlier medieval artefact, like the Hunterston brooch, can be justified on the basis that it was still in use a couple of centuries after its manufacture. Sutton Hoo would not really work, at least in Britain, because the objects are too well-known, and are so strongly (and correctly) associated with ENGLAND in contradistinction to Scotland, Wales and Ireland. They are also much too early, as well as being culturally Anglo-Saxon. It would not only be archaeologists who would expect a book with the purse-lid or the shoulder-clasps on the front to be about the East Anglian rulers of the 7th century, not the Scottish ones of the 11th.
    In terms of personal taste, I heartily dislike the pre-Raphaelites, but aside from that, their form of mushy, sentimental Victorian pseudo-medievalism seems to me exceptionally ill-suited to the gritty and savage realities of early-medieval Scotland. For the record – and this could be important if a UK edition with the same cover is planned – the pre-Raphaelites, though probably rather better tolerated here now than they were 30 years ago, are still FAR less popular in the UK than they are in the USA.

    Reply
  48. I think the hardback cover is both attractive and appropriate, but then, in general, I prefer landscapes and artefacts to ‘people pictures’. Landscapes in particular can often convey mood and atmosphere far more effectively and memorably than humans emoting incontinently all over the place.
    I never allow the picture on the cover to influence me in any way: many of my favourite novels were first issued in unspeakably, embarrassingly repulsive covers. and a cover picture alone would never be the trigger either to make me pick up a book or to prevent me from doing so. All the same, it is gratifying when a good book does have an aesthetically pleasing image on the front, and one that is in harmony with the text itself.
    The Luttrell Psalter (and also the wonderful Macclesfield Psalter, recently acquired by the Fitzwilliam Museum) certainly have some really gorgeous, eye-catching medieval images, but they are simply much too late, surely? They are 14th-century texts. There are some eye-catching details from manuscripts of the right century (the British Library website has a basic catalogue of its MS online, with sample images), but I feel sure that the average publisher’s art department would find them too ‘dry’, and prefer a lot of Rossetti or Burne Jones red velvet and swooning, druggy claustrophobia.
    It’s true that an earlier medieval artefact, like the Hunterston brooch, can be justified on the basis that it was still in use a couple of centuries after its manufacture. Sutton Hoo would not really work, at least in Britain, because the objects are too well-known, and are so strongly (and correctly) associated with ENGLAND in contradistinction to Scotland, Wales and Ireland. They are also much too early, as well as being culturally Anglo-Saxon. It would not only be archaeologists who would expect a book with the purse-lid or the shoulder-clasps on the front to be about the East Anglian rulers of the 7th century, not the Scottish ones of the 11th.
    In terms of personal taste, I heartily dislike the pre-Raphaelites, but aside from that, their form of mushy, sentimental Victorian pseudo-medievalism seems to me exceptionally ill-suited to the gritty and savage realities of early-medieval Scotland. For the record – and this could be important if a UK edition with the same cover is planned – the pre-Raphaelites, though probably rather better tolerated here now than they were 30 years ago, are still FAR less popular in the UK than they are in the USA.

    Reply
  49. I think the hardback cover is both attractive and appropriate, but then, in general, I prefer landscapes and artefacts to ‘people pictures’. Landscapes in particular can often convey mood and atmosphere far more effectively and memorably than humans emoting incontinently all over the place.
    I never allow the picture on the cover to influence me in any way: many of my favourite novels were first issued in unspeakably, embarrassingly repulsive covers. and a cover picture alone would never be the trigger either to make me pick up a book or to prevent me from doing so. All the same, it is gratifying when a good book does have an aesthetically pleasing image on the front, and one that is in harmony with the text itself.
    The Luttrell Psalter (and also the wonderful Macclesfield Psalter, recently acquired by the Fitzwilliam Museum) certainly have some really gorgeous, eye-catching medieval images, but they are simply much too late, surely? They are 14th-century texts. There are some eye-catching details from manuscripts of the right century (the British Library website has a basic catalogue of its MS online, with sample images), but I feel sure that the average publisher’s art department would find them too ‘dry’, and prefer a lot of Rossetti or Burne Jones red velvet and swooning, druggy claustrophobia.
    It’s true that an earlier medieval artefact, like the Hunterston brooch, can be justified on the basis that it was still in use a couple of centuries after its manufacture. Sutton Hoo would not really work, at least in Britain, because the objects are too well-known, and are so strongly (and correctly) associated with ENGLAND in contradistinction to Scotland, Wales and Ireland. They are also much too early, as well as being culturally Anglo-Saxon. It would not only be archaeologists who would expect a book with the purse-lid or the shoulder-clasps on the front to be about the East Anglian rulers of the 7th century, not the Scottish ones of the 11th.
    In terms of personal taste, I heartily dislike the pre-Raphaelites, but aside from that, their form of mushy, sentimental Victorian pseudo-medievalism seems to me exceptionally ill-suited to the gritty and savage realities of early-medieval Scotland. For the record – and this could be important if a UK edition with the same cover is planned – the pre-Raphaelites, though probably rather better tolerated here now than they were 30 years ago, are still FAR less popular in the UK than they are in the USA.

    Reply
  50. I think the hardback cover is both attractive and appropriate, but then, in general, I prefer landscapes and artefacts to ‘people pictures’. Landscapes in particular can often convey mood and atmosphere far more effectively and memorably than humans emoting incontinently all over the place.
    I never allow the picture on the cover to influence me in any way: many of my favourite novels were first issued in unspeakably, embarrassingly repulsive covers. and a cover picture alone would never be the trigger either to make me pick up a book or to prevent me from doing so. All the same, it is gratifying when a good book does have an aesthetically pleasing image on the front, and one that is in harmony with the text itself.
    The Luttrell Psalter (and also the wonderful Macclesfield Psalter, recently acquired by the Fitzwilliam Museum) certainly have some really gorgeous, eye-catching medieval images, but they are simply much too late, surely? They are 14th-century texts. There are some eye-catching details from manuscripts of the right century (the British Library website has a basic catalogue of its MS online, with sample images), but I feel sure that the average publisher’s art department would find them too ‘dry’, and prefer a lot of Rossetti or Burne Jones red velvet and swooning, druggy claustrophobia.
    It’s true that an earlier medieval artefact, like the Hunterston brooch, can be justified on the basis that it was still in use a couple of centuries after its manufacture. Sutton Hoo would not really work, at least in Britain, because the objects are too well-known, and are so strongly (and correctly) associated with ENGLAND in contradistinction to Scotland, Wales and Ireland. They are also much too early, as well as being culturally Anglo-Saxon. It would not only be archaeologists who would expect a book with the purse-lid or the shoulder-clasps on the front to be about the East Anglian rulers of the 7th century, not the Scottish ones of the 11th.
    In terms of personal taste, I heartily dislike the pre-Raphaelites, but aside from that, their form of mushy, sentimental Victorian pseudo-medievalism seems to me exceptionally ill-suited to the gritty and savage realities of early-medieval Scotland. For the record – and this could be important if a UK edition with the same cover is planned – the pre-Raphaelites, though probably rather better tolerated here now than they were 30 years ago, are still FAR less popular in the UK than they are in the USA.

    Reply
  51. I have just finished the book and what struck me between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth was their constant struggle to keep their Gael tradition while being bombarded with Roman Catholic cultural norms so different than the Gaels. So I think a cover with “Gael/Pict” art of which there is much known even of that era on the cover would far more appropriate than the current hardcover cover. I think the publishing industry has used the castle at Eilean Doonan to death( was even supposed to be an English castle in the last ELIZABETH movie) and in this case it really isn’t a location that would fit for Fife or Moray or the history in the book.
    The use of Pict art would be great for a border , especially if the colors were in muted colors found in the period manuscripts. This would then surround a picture of an Abbot or something to represent the Church all in muted colors
    I would stay away from something like the current cover, which is more to get the “Scottish” crowd but has nothing to do with the actual story. Sort of promotes the idea that any Scottish castle is interchangeable, done to death in media and publishers. I also so remember at least one of your other romance books with that castle on the cover. I would think the art department could be a bit more creative.
    To me the perfect cover that would catch my eye is something that would contrast the Roman Catholic culture with the Gael culture so appropriate for the underlying themes of the book and Lady MacBeth’s life..

    Reply
  52. I have just finished the book and what struck me between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth was their constant struggle to keep their Gael tradition while being bombarded with Roman Catholic cultural norms so different than the Gaels. So I think a cover with “Gael/Pict” art of which there is much known even of that era on the cover would far more appropriate than the current hardcover cover. I think the publishing industry has used the castle at Eilean Doonan to death( was even supposed to be an English castle in the last ELIZABETH movie) and in this case it really isn’t a location that would fit for Fife or Moray or the history in the book.
    The use of Pict art would be great for a border , especially if the colors were in muted colors found in the period manuscripts. This would then surround a picture of an Abbot or something to represent the Church all in muted colors
    I would stay away from something like the current cover, which is more to get the “Scottish” crowd but has nothing to do with the actual story. Sort of promotes the idea that any Scottish castle is interchangeable, done to death in media and publishers. I also so remember at least one of your other romance books with that castle on the cover. I would think the art department could be a bit more creative.
    To me the perfect cover that would catch my eye is something that would contrast the Roman Catholic culture with the Gael culture so appropriate for the underlying themes of the book and Lady MacBeth’s life..

    Reply
  53. I have just finished the book and what struck me between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth was their constant struggle to keep their Gael tradition while being bombarded with Roman Catholic cultural norms so different than the Gaels. So I think a cover with “Gael/Pict” art of which there is much known even of that era on the cover would far more appropriate than the current hardcover cover. I think the publishing industry has used the castle at Eilean Doonan to death( was even supposed to be an English castle in the last ELIZABETH movie) and in this case it really isn’t a location that would fit for Fife or Moray or the history in the book.
    The use of Pict art would be great for a border , especially if the colors were in muted colors found in the period manuscripts. This would then surround a picture of an Abbot or something to represent the Church all in muted colors
    I would stay away from something like the current cover, which is more to get the “Scottish” crowd but has nothing to do with the actual story. Sort of promotes the idea that any Scottish castle is interchangeable, done to death in media and publishers. I also so remember at least one of your other romance books with that castle on the cover. I would think the art department could be a bit more creative.
    To me the perfect cover that would catch my eye is something that would contrast the Roman Catholic culture with the Gael culture so appropriate for the underlying themes of the book and Lady MacBeth’s life..

    Reply
  54. I have just finished the book and what struck me between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth was their constant struggle to keep their Gael tradition while being bombarded with Roman Catholic cultural norms so different than the Gaels. So I think a cover with “Gael/Pict” art of which there is much known even of that era on the cover would far more appropriate than the current hardcover cover. I think the publishing industry has used the castle at Eilean Doonan to death( was even supposed to be an English castle in the last ELIZABETH movie) and in this case it really isn’t a location that would fit for Fife or Moray or the history in the book.
    The use of Pict art would be great for a border , especially if the colors were in muted colors found in the period manuscripts. This would then surround a picture of an Abbot or something to represent the Church all in muted colors
    I would stay away from something like the current cover, which is more to get the “Scottish” crowd but has nothing to do with the actual story. Sort of promotes the idea that any Scottish castle is interchangeable, done to death in media and publishers. I also so remember at least one of your other romance books with that castle on the cover. I would think the art department could be a bit more creative.
    To me the perfect cover that would catch my eye is something that would contrast the Roman Catholic culture with the Gael culture so appropriate for the underlying themes of the book and Lady MacBeth’s life..

    Reply
  55. I have just finished the book and what struck me between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth was their constant struggle to keep their Gael tradition while being bombarded with Roman Catholic cultural norms so different than the Gaels. So I think a cover with “Gael/Pict” art of which there is much known even of that era on the cover would far more appropriate than the current hardcover cover. I think the publishing industry has used the castle at Eilean Doonan to death( was even supposed to be an English castle in the last ELIZABETH movie) and in this case it really isn’t a location that would fit for Fife or Moray or the history in the book.
    The use of Pict art would be great for a border , especially if the colors were in muted colors found in the period manuscripts. This would then surround a picture of an Abbot or something to represent the Church all in muted colors
    I would stay away from something like the current cover, which is more to get the “Scottish” crowd but has nothing to do with the actual story. Sort of promotes the idea that any Scottish castle is interchangeable, done to death in media and publishers. I also so remember at least one of your other romance books with that castle on the cover. I would think the art department could be a bit more creative.
    To me the perfect cover that would catch my eye is something that would contrast the Roman Catholic culture with the Gael culture so appropriate for the underlying themes of the book and Lady MacBeth’s life..

    Reply

Leave a Comment