I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but let’s face it–to some extent, we all do. People, colors, fonts can all catch a reader’s interest, or cause them to pass right on by. I envy self-published authors, who have the opportunity to create a cover that represents precisely what they would like to see. They also have the ability to change the cover if it doesn’t sell well for them. How exciting!
As a traditionally published author writing for Harlequin, I don’t have that luxury. At the beginning stage, Harlequin asks for my input in the form of an Art Fact Sheet, which includes theme, synopsis, characters and my thoughts on potential scenes. Then editorial and the art department get together and create a concept for the cover. They hire the cover models and shoot the scenes. The art department is fantastic and generally does a wonderful job, but I, as the author, don’t get to see my cover until it is nearly finalized.
Up until recently I didn’t see my cover at all until it was already completely locked in, so I was happy when they recently started sending me a mock-up of each cover near the end of the process. I now have the opportunity to suggest small changes or point out glaring errors. In the past I’ve noticed issues with a saddle or the exact color of my hero’s eyes, which the art department has or has not chosen to address. But with The Cowboy’s Twins, coming out April 20th, I had a much larger problem. I was definitely glad to have the opportunity to see the cover before it was finalized.
I am super blessed that Love Inspired has branded my books to be close-ups of handsome cowboys and delightful babies. I’ve always preferred having people on my cover, and I especially like the close-ups. Most of the time they are fairly similar to how I imagine the cover. However, with The Cowboy’s Twins, we had a little hiccup.
In the book, my hero Jax McKenna has a rather large scar on the left side of his face, running from his temple to his mouth. In my Art Fact Sheet, I repeatedly referenced this and asked for my hero to have the right side of his face showing (because of course they won’t put a scarred hero on the cover.)
So what happened? My hero held his twins against his broad shoulders and looked down at one baby, exposing—you guessed it—the left side of his face. The babies were adorable with their thick dark hair and I loved the concept, but it was a pretty major error and I knew it would bother readers as much as it bothered me.
Fortunately, the art department was able to mirror-image my hero so on the final cover he is now looking to his right. However, when they mirror-imaged Jax, the babies no longer worked. They were now gazing the wrong direction and were throwing the whole picture off. So, as cute as those babies were, they had to be photo-shopped. Happily, I am completely in love with this new set of twins, so it all worked out perfectly, and I’m proud to have my name on the cover.
So there you have it. One Harlequin author’s experience with cover creation. What do you think of The Cowboy’s Twins cover? Do you judge a book by its cover, or do you buy books for other reasons? Comment below for your chance to win an autographed copy of The Cowboy’s Twins.