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?