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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Cover Story

I enjoy interviewing and learning from my guests on the “Information in a Nutshell” Blog Talk radio show. Every guest has different insights. Eric Reinhold, author of two fantasy books for children, (with a third one in the works), explained that he was fearful he would dislike the book cover chosen by the publisher. He also shared that many of his author friends dislike their book covers. So, he became pro-active and hired the illustrator himself.

The illustrator is an amazingly talented man, and he has captured the essence of the characters. This is something that is difficult at best. An author has an idea in his or her head of what the characters look like. Getting this idea onto paper in words is a daunting task. Eric sent me samples of the many illustrations for his new book. You can view them on Eric's website:

Eric isn't the only one who cares about his book covers. Another author, Susan K. Marlow, who penned the "Circle C Adventure” series from Kregel Publications was concerned as well. She took sample photos of her characters, which the publisher ended up using on the covers of her books for ’tweens! She was surprised, never dreaming they would use the actual photos. She sent several poses as a "humble" suggestion to the publisher. It was her “vision” of the characters, and she wanted to help paint a picture for the graphic artist. With her fifth novel on the horizon, Susan asked the publisher if she could have a “cover” contest to see which photo her readers liked better. She got a great response, but the publisher ended up going with the cover that hadn’t “won” the cover contest. They were both great concepts, so it didn’t really matter to Susan. Publishers sometimes appreciate help from the author, but it is no guarantee that they will take every suggestion to heart. Still, it is worth a try.

The Truth Seeker Mystery Series TM, the action-adventure novels I penned with my daughter, Christina, also had our input. The first book cover was sketched on a piece of paper, scanned, and sent to the graphic artist. He took the ideas and used a picture he had taken as a kid of a burning boat. The second novel was more difficult. We needed our characters rappelling from high atop a mountain in Colorado. Since we live in Florida and have never traveled to Colorado, this posed a bit of a dilemma. An option presented itself when I contacted a friend, a firefighter who owned rappelling gear. I needed a young man, so I called another friend of mine, and her son volunteered. No mountains in southwest Florida, but plenty of trees in our yard. With a little help we were able to hoist our “character” up a tree. There he hung, posing willingly while we shot pictures from every angle. With the wonders of photo-enhancing techniques, a mountain was inserted into the background, and the “rappelling” character placed in the scene.

For the third novel cover I wanted to depict an underwater scene. Our family has quite a few certified scuba divers (including myself), so we did not have a shortage of subjects. Once again it was staged, this time in our backyard swimming pool, with my daughter’s underwater camera. The problem for me was buoyancy. I did not have a wetsuit or weight belt on and had difficulty staying submerged long enough to take the photos. With the aid of my husband (holding me underwater, by the shoulders…I kid you not!), I was able to successfully take the photo that adorns the cover of the third novel. My nephew’s contribution was the underwater picture shot of a reef while on his honeymoon in the Caribbean.

It is amazing to me the lengths authors go to in order to make sure their work shines inside and out. Are you concerned that your book cover will not reflect your vision? Do you have a book cover story? What is your dilemma, and how can I help?


  1. I do eBooks and my biggest issue with the cover is whether to buy a program to do the covers or use flat ones. I see half and half out there. Some say the eBook looking cover generators look "amatureish" and others say the flat covers look like they are not eBooks and confuse customers.

  2. I use flat covers, even on my 3-D books! Personally I like the 3-d look of books, but if anything that would confuse a customer, not the other way around! Good question.