Friday, July 09, 2010

Votes Tallied in 2009 "Cover Cafe" Contest

Have you seen the choices for best and worst covers for 2009 at Cover Cafe? Riders have winners in the Best Series category!

While Helen, Michele and I can't take credit for the actual artwork, we series authors do have a little something to say about what goes into our covers when we fill out the "Art Fact Sheet." We describe characters, mood, theme, setting and suggest a couple of scenes we think might make good covers. A commercial artist does the work, but I've found the more detail you offer, the better the result.

I started sending photographs for input into cover art years ago, but I don't think I've ever sent a picture of a character. My contribution is generally to details of clothing and setting, maybe even pose. I will describe the characters the way they're described in the book. I figure the artist--like the reader--can take it from there. But photographs help enormously with other details--a certain kind of horse or hat or beadwork, a particular mountain range or terrain.

IN CARE OF SAM BEAUDRY is set in Montana. Big Sky country. We have a nephew from Montana whose nickname is Big Sky. I've lived in lots of places, and I know the colors in a Western sky take your breath away at dawn and sunset. I wanted those colors in Sam's cover, and I got them.

My next 3 covers--ONE COWBOY, ONE CHRISTMAS; COOL HAND HANK; ONCE A FATHER (see sidebar) are hero only. I like COOL HAND HANK best. A couple of clothing details are wrong for ONE COWBOY, and Logan in ONCE A FATHER is full-blood Lakota. But they're all good-looking cowboys, and that's what counts. I'm glad Silhouette uses paintings instead of photographs for cover art. Much more romantic, I think.

Last March Harlequin published one of my earlier books in a special release. I loved the original cover art for BAD MOON RISING (first published in 1991). They used the scene I asked for with the heroine dressed in a traditional Lakota dance costume. I went to the ND Historical Society, where I was permitted to look through their stored collection of 19th and early 20th century clothing, choose a gorgeous beaded dress and have my daughter photographed holding it. They wouldn't let her puti on, but it's a wonderful picture, and the artist duplicated the designs perfectly. They used the same cover art for the UK cover (left). The US edition is around here somewhere).

BAD MOON RISING was reprinted in March of this year as part of a "Men In Uniform" program. The new cover art (featuring big moon, wouldn't call it bad) fits the program, and while the landscape looks great, the guy on the cover doesn't look like Trey Latimer.

Let's talk covers. Check out Cover Cafe and let us know what you think makes a good cover.

Writers, what do you ask your publisher for when you consult on covers? What do you send in to help with the cover process? Do you have a favorite? A cover that worked really well commercially? Have you had any particular disappointments?


KylieBrant said...

One of the biggest thrills of writing single title for me is getting input on covers. Not just input, but the ability to send the art department back to the drawing board altogether once, and have things switched, added, deleted, etc. Instead of the hated nine pages of art fact sheets I used to send in, now I send cover treatments I like, with a description of the characters. Then hope for the best. For the Nov. book I think they hit one out of the park! I have my fingers crossed for the next one.

krisgils33 said...

I don't pay too much attention to the covers. I enjoy some nice eye candy on the cover, but what hooks me in is the synopsis on the back.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Kris, what draws you to pick up the book, turn it over and read the back? Is it the author's name? The genre or subgenre? Colors? Eye candy?

Kathleen Eagle said...

Kylie, I've had "cover consultation" in single title contracts, and there have been times when--with my agent's help--we've sent them back for completely new covers. But sometimes the new cover wasn't much better, and you wonder whether somebody's feeling got hurt or the budget for artwork for that book was tapped out.

I admit that I don't know much about marketing, and sometimes I've misjudged. Covers I thought were less than spectacular have turned out to be commercially successful, while some I thought we gorgeous didn't quite work on the shelves.

krisgils33 said...

It could be the colors and/or the eye candy, but it could be the art work as well. Just something that catches my eye when scanning the shelves at the bookstore. But it isn't anything specific (I know this isn't helpful!!).

lois greiman said...

I kind of like single guy covers. But lush backgrounds are good, too.

Husband, who is not really a reader, will sometimes buy books JUST for the covers. He won't even read the books...just set it up on a shelf. Isn't that a thinker??

Michele Hauf said...

I've had hits and misses on my covers. I always post pics of hero and heroine online and send the URL to the art dept (put on art fact sheet). For one of my Bombshells I had seen a style I really liked done in a few magazine ads, so cut those out and sent them in, and they did EXACTLY what i wanted. It was so cool.
I'm pretty happy with my covers; H/S has an awesome art dept. But that said, I'm not even going to get into what's happening with my January cover. Ugg.

Betina Krahn said...

WooHoo, Kathy! Gorgeous covers-- very eye-catching. They deserve some awards.

Also, I confess that one of the things I miss o the E-Reader thing is the beautiful covers. The readers (Nook and Kindle and Sony)have them, but mostly in black and white. I'm still drawn to great covers as a source of buying decisions. And I LOVE the cover on Hauff's Paranormal Romance 2. The hunky guy angel... terrific.

Also, Kathy the re-issue of Bad Moon Rising is great. I think it will really be eye-catching. . . sets a whole tone for the book. And Hauff's Midnight Cravings is spectacularly noticeable. The colore and eyes just pop right out.

I've had some GREAT covers ad some that were just adequite. One or two hit the skids. . . I thought they were plasticy and fake, but readers didn't seem to mind.

Betina Krahn said...

Yikes. . . typos all over the place! I should know better than to drink and type! lol


Helen Brenna said...

Gotta ask ... just what are you drinking, Betina? lol

Kathy, I've been loving all of the covers I've been getting lately. FIRST COME TWINS was beautiful - the first in the Mirabelle series - and it nicely set the stage for the rest of the books, I think.

Your reprint cover for BAD MOON RISING is eye-catching. Like it a lot.

I've heard pregnant heroine's sell well, but haven't seen any #s yet on my December Super. Should be interesting.

I've hesitated in asking for anything specific on my covers because I don't know marketing. Figure I'd better leave it to the experts. That said, I wish I had even a bit of a say after they come up with an initial idea.

Michele Hauf said...

Oh dear, it's time to cut Betina off! Those mint juleps, whew! :-)

Kathleen Eagle said...

Betina, I've been wondering whether the rise in e-book popularity would spell the demise of expensive cover art. I hope not. I'm impressed with the attention Harlequin continues to give series covers. Your first Blaze cover is a favorite of mine--such rich color, such magnetism portrayed.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Helen, your "Island To Remember Covers" are so romantic. The series has a subtle color palette continuity as well. And, yes, that heroic hands on the baby bump cover sells books, I think. It's endearing.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Helen, the "Cravings" cover is spectacular. The color, the feral eys, the woman's sinuous shape--really draws you in.

I think it helps to send pictures of details. I used to send pictures, photocopies, magazine pages. Now that we're e-mailing the AFS, I wondered whether attachment pictures would go unnoticed. But they're being used.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Back in the days of Intimate Moments, I always requested a particular artist, who did terrific work. He used to request and read the manuscript. When he died, Silhouette collected letters from "his" authors, which were sent to his family. His widow responded, telling us how dedicated he was to his work and how much he enjoyed and respected ours.

catslady said...

I totally love the double covers the best. Two for one with the inside cover being more suggestive.
I had a good laugh at the bad covers but truly feel sorry for the authors.

It's hard to say what strikes me sometimes but colors definitely make a statement.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Catslady, sympathy for authors is much appreciated. Bad covers are so disappointing and so not our fault.

MJFredrick said...

I write for e-pubs and I have had great luck. I got my Carina Press cover this week and promptly ordered a T-shirt and a poster and magnets. I REALLY love my last two Samhain covers, Beneath the Surface and Breaking Daylight. The colors are breathtaking.

The cover art sheets are pretty basic--what do your hero/heroine look like, color and texture and length of hair, what clothes do they typically wear, setting, etc. I send links to all these things to help, though I realize they're limited by stock photos they use.

I actually get a lot of input at Wild Rose Press. My first cover was perfect, but the last couple, not so much, at least the first go-round. The cover artist and I had VERY different ideas of what a sexy man is :)

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