Monday, September 13, 2010

Cover Art

Hi there! This is Renee Ryan and I’m excited to blog here today. I’ve decided to talk about a topic that’s been on my mind lately. Cover art. You have no idea how many questions I get about my Love Inspired covers, mainly from people wondering how much control I have over the final product. The answer is simple: It depends.

Here’s the process, from this author’s standpoint. About a year before one of my books hits the shelves I receive an email from my editor telling me it’s time to fill out the Art Fact Sheet (AFS) for the book. That means I have to go a Web site hosted by the publisher and answer a bunch of questions about the story.

Incidentally, this is the time when I’m asked to send in alternative titles for the book. Case in point. My current release started out as DEADLY ALLIANCE. Twenty-five or so suggestions later, my editor and I agreed on DANGEROUS ALLIES. Although both evoke the same tone, I like the new title better.

Okay, back to the cover art process. Like I said before, I go to a special Web site and begin answering questions about my story. The questions fall under several categories, such as: Characters, Scenes, and Synopsis, as well as a detailed page with basic questions surrounding theme, story hooks, date, setting, story timeline, etc. The character questions range from superficial things such as physical traits to deeper issues such as psychological wounds. The synopsis is basically a short and sweet summary of the story, something I would tell a friend at a party or sitting in the stands at a football game.

Most of the above is both easy and fun. However, I find the section about scene description very difficult. The publisher wants three very distinct, yet detailed scene descriptions. This should be easy for me. I love putting my setting in my books. But knowing that a real artist will be using my words to create a picture suddenly makes the ideas freeze in my head. That’s why I love the last and final portion of my job in the cover art process—creating a separate file of the images I think best evoke the mood of my story. I get to cruise the Internet looking for pictures of my hero and heroine, as well as possible scenes or other similar book covers I think will work for my book as well (in terms of overall tone).

This final component really makes the story come alive for me in my head. It’s so effective that I now try to capture many of those types of images before I start writing a book rather than after.

I spent the most time on this phase for my current release. The final product is my best cover yet. Well, in my opinion, anyway. In case you’re wondering, some of the images I chose for this book were pictures of Rita Hayworth and Daniel Craig (the current James Bond), as well as movie posters from Gilda, The Black Book and Casablanca. What do you think of the cover for DANGEROUS ALLIES? The story is set in 1939 Nazi Germany. Did the art department get it right, or what?


Renee Ryan said...

Hi fantum2004,

I'm with you...nothing worse than a cover that doesn't capture the physical qualities of the main characters. Great point!

Hope you enjoy DANGEROUS ALLIES!


Project Journal said...

Hey Renee!
You blog on here a lot : D Not a bad me!

That IS quite a process! can't even imagine! It always amazeds me when I see the covers though, if that's any consolation : ) It's exciting because usually I don't see too many of the covers before I see them on the shelf. There's something...magical about it! Once they change from last month's's SO exciting!!! Lol...I'm kinda a dork, can you tell?

Anyway, thanks for the in depth description of this process. Sometimes I don't think that authors get credit for everything they do...
Talk to you soon,

Julie Hilton Steele said...

I never thought about the scene part...duh. Thanks for the details.

Sigh, one of the best covers I have seen yet.

Peace, Julie