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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cover Input

I don't want to design my book covers. I love writing, but I just don't have the visual skills to design covers or the marketing skills to know what sells (lots of writers who do design their own covers don't know this part either, I fear!)

That being said, I DO want to have a say in my covers. I know what I don't like. And I certainly know what fits the book - even if it doesn't represent the exact image I had in my mind.

Take the Restoration cover, done by the marvelous Matt Stawicki. The characters look nothing like the images of Seyonne and Aleksander that live in my head, but when I pulled that cover out of the envelope, I went, "Wow!" It is gorgeous. It will draw a reader's eye and make readers wonder about the book - which is the entire reason for cover art, of course. The Stawicki Revelation cover was actually more beautiful than I had envisioned the ice palace in Kir'Vagonoth. I also love the Luis Royo covers for the Lighthouse books, but, sorry folks, he isn't quite Valen and the beauifully rendered masks are wrong - they should be vertical half masks. But I think the covers are gorgeous and feel very fortunate.

So the time has come (already?) and my editor, bless her, is asking for my ideas for what should be on the cover of the [as yet untitled] new book.

Probably not an action scene. They are not "stylish" for trade paperback originals. So, there's more thinking to do. I've got three investigators, a burning ship, ghosts, horribly-- Well I can't tell all, can I? I need to send them several ideas to explore - and pages for my editor to read, but they're not ready yet...yoiks.

And then there is the matter of cover copy - the ubiquitous back cover blurb that may be even more important than the cover, and is likely the second thing a prospective reader looks at. I don't get to write it, but thanks to some cooperative behavior (I think!) I get to make suggestions. Hooray. This part has to be done accurately, as far as I'm concerned. No revelation of secrets. No cliches. Vivid words. OK, I tend to get too wordy, but at least I get to contribute. I was really happy with the Lighthouse cover copy.

Something else to be working on in the next week or so.


Sketchy said...

I am just happy to read that there is a new book and if you are already to the cover art stage it must mean it's coming out soon? Please?

Anonymous said...

Well, because I drew covers myself, I don't think I'd be able to say nothing about it ;-)

As for the title... uhm... I've never considered that. But I think the titles I find more intriguing are usually quite long (like a short phrase) and maybe with weird combinations.
For example, I'm currently reading "The Red Wolf Conspiracy", which is one of the more beautiful titles I've ever heard (that's me, anyway). Or "Tombs and the Death of the Singing Bird", which is an unpublished book I had the possibility to read.
This kind of things :-)


Anonymous said...

I will be honest, cover art and the end blurb make the difference for me as far as buying a book with an author I don't know. Author is a big deal for me though. Some authors I will avoid and some authors I will buy no matter how stupid the book seems (Berg is on that list). I know a lot of people on the writer's forum I read say that they read the first 13 lines to decide, but if the blurb appeals, I'll try it, even if the first bit isn't so great. I also shop at used bookstores a lot, so sadly the condition of the book is a factor (which obviously the author can't control).

carolwriter said...

Sketchy, the new book, as yet untitled, will come out in January 2010. It takes about a year from my first completed manuscript to get it on the shelf.

Tami, I So appreciate that you'll acquire one of my books no matter the end blurb! Now that I can "help" a little, I've hopes they'll not be ridiculous. This one is hard because I've got three main characters, plus lots of plot elements that I think could be intriguing. And there just isn't much room.

Sarah, it's interesting that you like longer titles. I've come up with a couple of longer ideas.

I'd love to hear more titles that people like.

Anonymous said...

I really like _The Chains That You Refuse_, though I admit I haven't read the book. Give me some action in the title! We don't see nearly enough of that, in my opinion, just a profusion of adjective-noun stuff.


sugaredlightning said...

The one that is sitting at my shelf, staring at me right now is "The Moon Is Down." If you're not familiar, it's actually a quote from Macbeth. Though I haven't actually read the book, I also like the title "The Sound And The Fury" too. (Again, Macbeth). In addition to whatever sense you get of the words themselves, the allusion gives an added layer of meaning to it, and a prick of curiosity to see how they applied it.

When it comes to fantasy, when I am looking for new writers to try, a lot of times I find it is due to a combination of title and cover. "Green Rider" isn't a flashy title, but I like horses so it got my attention, and that combined with the cover (a girl on a horse, literally disappearing into the mist as they are fleeing from the mysterious figure on the backside of the cover) got my interest.

I actually picked "Flesh And Spirit" off of the shelf because of the cover, and the blurb sealed the deal.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I hardly ever read the blurbs. They never tell me anything about the author's writing style. And that's the important part. Anything can be interesting, if the writing's good enough, so why bother with the three-sentence description of the plot?

Titles rarely draw my attention, at least not more than a single, "Just how clich├ęd is this title" glance. More of a check to make sure the publisher takes this book seriously than a hope it'll tell me anything about the book. But I've read more than a few good books with awful titles. And a few awful books with eye-catching ones.

I know that doesn't really help you much, but maybe it'll make you worry a little less. Your writing is good, no matter what the cover looks like. (And I can't wait for the new book!)

Anonymous said...

The cover catches my eye. Next step is opening the book randomly in the middle somewhere and reading it. Tell you the truth, Restoration was the first of the Rai-Kirrah series I read, and had it not been for that intriguing cover, I might have missed what is now one of 4 series of books I keep at hand to read and re-read (the others being the Lymond Chronicles, LOTR, and CJ Cherryh's Foreigner series). I read other stuff but always come back to these--once a year re-reads.