by Stephen Bly
I've often gotten asked, "Do you do your own artwork for your book covers?" or "Why did you decide on that particular cover?"
So, I reckon I'll write about book covers.
How a book's designed is usually under the control of the publisher. The contract the author signs spells out the details. When I first started out, I was so thrilled to get a book published, I didn't worry about the cover. In those days, the publisher had full control. I had no idea what the book would look like until it arrived. That's fun. And scary. If the cover's great, it's a delight. If the cover's weak in some way, I'd be a tad disappointed.
As I got more experienced, I negotiated a different contract that included a "mutual agreement" clause. Both the publisher and author must agree on the cover. Even so, some of my suggestions never got used.
Since some have asked, here's three of my covers I really liked ...
|The Lost Wagon Train|
The Lost Wagon Train from Retta Barre's Oregon Trail Series is a personal favorite. It has the wagon train, but also the artist's rendition of Retta Barre is exactly the way I pictured her. She's rebel with short hair and no bonnet. Many times a cover can misrepresent the protagonist. But Retta is perfect. That's my girl. I love this cover.
Another of my favorite's is Paperback Writer. No image of the protagonist, Paul James Watson, is included. Just old typewriter font letters. A steaming cup of coffee. A shadowy figure in the lower right hand corner that hints of mystery and suspense. And then if you hold it to the light, you can see the coffee cup stains. Makes you think you left your mug on the top of the book. You can't tell what is real or fake. Just like the plot in the book. The cover reflects the story.
|The Outlaw's Twin Sister|
On the cover of The Outlaw's Twin Sister (Belles of Lordsburg Series), this likeness is truly Julianna Ortiz. I love the town in the background, the dress, her hair, the eyes, and most of all, the melancholy look on her face. No fake grin for the portrait artist. She's had a tough life. Then along comes a nephew to raise (the capricious Paco). And she runs into the mysterious DelNorte. Both these events change her life forever. And I like the tagline they added in the upper left hand corner: "Hers wasn't the life little girls dream of. Not yet anyway."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~What's one of your favorite book covers and why?