Cover Art Version Five

It’s here! After many versions and many opinions which were greatly appreciated, the cover for the next book is done.

I learned quite a bit during this process. Things like listening to, and valuing, everyone’s opinions. I so appreciated all the input but the process reinforced for me how varied our tastes are.

I so wanted a shadow in this cover. I could picture it in my head, my cover artist tried multiple ways of fitting the shadow in, but none of the versions felt right. While some people liked the shadow and others didn’t, even those who liked it weren’t excited about its presence. So while not everyone agreed, I sensed an agreement of sorts in the lack of ‘that’s perfect!’. That enthusiasm was missing. I realized I was trying too hard to make something fit that maybe wasn’t meant to be. And when I saw this version without the shadow, I finally reacted with the little bubble of excitement that says ‘I do believe this is it.’

One friend, when she saw the cover, had the response I wanted to elicit. Even though she says she’s not much of a reader, she said the cover made her want to walk up that road and see what was going on. That comment made me realize that’s what I wanted to convey. The desire to open the book and see what’s going on.

And like I mentioned in a previous post, I also learned the biggest lesson of all. That a cover should be a short story and not a novel.

Now my poor overworked cover artist gets to start on the back cover.

Ghost Roads - the prequel to The Memory Keeper.

Ghost Roads – the prequel to The Memory Keeper.

Cover Art

I’m not an artist, in spite of my brother once telling me I painted with words. That was the kind way of saying that attempts at drawing sucked. I even bought a book on how to draw with pencil. I mean, if I can write with a pencil surely I could draw with one. Right? That ended up being an excuse to buy some nice pencils and cool leather-bound books with parchment to hold all the drawings. Nothing was unrecognizable. And I followed the directions!

Added to the lack of drawing ability, I also am terrible at colors. No clue what goes together. When it was time to paint our house the only reason it came out good is that I got one of those little paint booklets that tell you what colors to put together. Since our house was built in 1928 I went with the ‘Historic Collection’.

With that background, you’ll understand my frustration with book covers. I have a wonderful cover artist, but she can’t read minds, unfortunately. For the upcoming Ghost Roads, I knew I wanted to hint at the mystery, I knew I wanted to tell a story, and I knew I wanted something to grab the eye. Using story elements from the book, I asked the cover artist to put a forest service road going up into woods that were on fire, with a skull or bones in the road, and a feminine shadow overlying the bones.

The theory was good.

I got the rough draft last week. I loved the way she did the fire. Everything else? Not so much. And it’s taking me a long time to figure out why, so I can tell the artist and not waste her time. I doubt she’ll appreciate things like ‘Oh, I don’t know. Something’s not quite right.’ Or ‘Could you maybe start all over?’ Or even, ‘You did what I asked for but now I don’t want it anymore’.

To avoid being fired by my cover artist, I have struggled to figure out what I don’t like about the artwork. And I’ve come up with this.

A cover should be a short story, not a novel.

I believe I’ve put too many elements into the cover. As my editor, author Susan Schreyer said, the eye doesn’t know where to look. As my publicist who’s building my website said, ‘Hey, a Nancy Drew!’ And trust me, he wasn’t saying that in a complimentary fashion. He was laughing pretty hard, actually.

I also wasn’t wild about the fonts used. My publicist thought, ‘Nancy Drew’. I went more with ‘Scooby Doo’.

I’ve responded finally to the cover artist, who was getting worried by the internet silence. After she has done all this work doing exactly what I asked for, I’m now asking her to shift it all around and remove some elements.

The thing is, I still don’t know if what I’m asking for is the right thing. After all, my idea of painting is paint-by-number. Or tracing. I can trace.

Anyway, the changes should hopefully be a short story and we’ll see how version two goes. Oh, and I did offer to pay her more since I’m being a problem customer.

What are your thoughts?

First attempt at Ghost Roads cover.

First attempt at Ghost Roads cover.