Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Bodacious Book Covers

The cover of a book is like a handshake with the reader and makes a lasting first impression. Too limp and lifeless, it's ignored, and if it's painfully strong--ouch!  In other words, the cover speaks volumes before the first word is read. The title and artwork combine and create an invitation to read.

Preliminary Sketches before the title was finalized.

My experience with titles is mixed.  While I’m drafting, I use a
 working title which, so far, has never been used on the final cover.
And for nearly every project, I have long lists of possible titles
 that for one reason or another don’t measure up.  

 I loved Sketch number 5, but because it didn't represent the story as well as others, we decided against it.  

Sometimes I come up with the final title, and sometimes it's a collaboration. But often the publisher comes up with a title that fits perfectly.  The title for my new book is an example of this. I had a couple of working titles that were OK, but  when Doris Baker, of Filter Press suggested Trouble Returns for the third Ruby and Maude Adventure, I didn't hesitate to agree. 

There is a lot more suffering surrounding the choice of cover art.  I suspect Doris Baker and the artist, Jamie Stroud, are sorry they ever asked my opinion! I try hard to make mind pictures for my readers when I write, but no one visualizes the characters and setting the same way as I do.

I understand this, but I'm still like a spoiled child when it comes to the cover illustration.  I want the cover characters to look exactly the way they are in my mind.  "After all, they ARE my characters!”  I spend more time with them than I do my best friends and lay claim to the mental images created from hours of  historical research, time spent sifting through historical photos, newspaper archives, museum visits, and travel for the purpose of depicting the story as accurately as possible.

When I first see the cover sketches, I agonize over every detail and wish for an artist clone who can mind meld with me and reproduce the contents of my brain. In the end, I'm thankful no clone exists. Recently, I shared the above image for Trouble Returns with a friend, and she blurted, “I love it!”

And that has been my experience with the many readers who comment on the covers for my books and give them high praise.  The cover artists have done wonderful work. From Cathy Morrison, http://cathymorrison.blogspot.com/  cover illustrator for the book Hard Face Moon...

...to my Cousin Shannon Chandler https://www.facebook.com/scchandl/about who illustrated the cover for Insects in the Infield.

And most recently Jamie Stroud  http://jamiestroud.com/children.html  the artist for Trouble Returns and all the other Ruby and Maude Adventure covers.  Thank you, Jamie, for letting me share your thumbnail sketches, and for your vision and artwork on behalf of Ruby and Maude.


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