Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Author As Cover Artist

One of the questions I'm always asked is some variation of "How much input do you have in the cover designs for your books?"

The short answer is, most authors have no say at all. Often we'll get a mock-up of the cover a couple of months before the book is published. By that time it's too late--they can fix a misspelling of the title or author's name, but the art is set.

I saw the cover for the hardback edition of BY BLOOD POSSESSED the day my first author's copy arrived. The cover design I'd been shown earlier--the design that went into the catalog--was very different from what ended up on the book. Thing was, my editor had specifically asked me to change the title to "something that tells the reader this is a mystery novel," and I'd driven myself insane until I'd come up with one. Good thing, because the cover art wasn't mysterious at all, just a person looking out of a window.

In HANG MY HEAD & CRY, the hardback design was much better, with a girl looking out through doorway to a dream image of a Civil War cannon. Problem was, the book wasn't about the Civil War and had no cannons in it.

Bella Rosa Books publishes the trade paperback reprints of the above novels, as well as my Christie short story companion, DAME AGATHA'S SHORTS. They do ask for my input and I think their covers are much more indicative of what you'll find inside. DAME AGATHA is, I think, an especially lovely cover and I've received many compliments on it (see photo above).

A few weeks ago, for the first time, I uploaded a previously published short story to the Amazon Kindle Store. I got to the part of the form that said "upload cover image." Whoa! I had to come up with a cover? My first few uploaded images weren't great (though they are suggestive of the story), but I've gotten creative since. Here are a few samples:

My software's primitive and my brain is more geared toward music than art, so I'm not thinking of a new career. But I'm having fun with it. And isn't fun exactly what the creative mind craves? Plus I get a real sense of satisfaction knowing that's my mirror, my locket, and that I took that photo.

So far, ten of my short stories are now available for Kindle, each for less than the price of a dollar hotdog at a Phillies game. Tell your friends to stock up.


1 comment:

Linda G said...

Hot dogs at the Phillies games are a dollar? Who knew?


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