Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Behind the Cover for A Stolen Heart

Do you ever wonder how book covers are designed? Ever since my first book was published, I've been fascinated by the process, which is why I've written about it several times. I'll include links to those earlier blogs at the end of this post, but for right now, let's focus on A Stolen Heart. It's one of my favorite covers and one that gets almost universal rave reviews when people see it. So, what was involved in creating it?

Authors are taught to show rather than simply tell, and in this case, that means pictures. Many thanks go to Art Director Patti Brinks and graphic designer Dan Thornberg of Design Source Creative Services, who were kind enough to share a number of behind-the-scenes pictures with me so that I could show you the story.

Although some publishers use stock art for their covers, Revell prefers to custom design their historical fiction books.  While it's a more expensive approach, it also means that the covers reflect the book. Don't you hate it when the cover shows a blonde, but the book describes her as a brunette? That doesn't happen at Revell.

The Model
One of the first steps is to choose a model. As part of the cover art process, the author is given a questionnaire which asks her to describe her heroine, not just in terms of her physical appearance, but also her mood. Using that, the design team reviews portfolios to find a model who has those characteristics.

I'm delighted with the choice of Laura W. to portray Lydia.

Costume Selection
Next comes the costume, which is oh, so critical for historical novels. As part of the questionnaire, I noted that Lydia wore fancy pinafores to work at the candy store. That led Patti Brinks to a search for just the right apron.

In the original version of the manuscript, Lydia wore gray dresses under the aprons. While that may have been historically accurate, Patti pointed out that more color would be better for the cover. I agreed and, in fact, liked the blouse she chose so well that you'll find a description of it in the book. It was a special blouse, and Lydia wore it on a special day.

The Photo Shoot
Once the model is chosen and her clothing selected, it's time for the photo shoot. As you can see from the outtakes, the photographer experimented with various positions and expressions.

Are you surprised by the white background? We'll talk about that next.

Each one of these has its own appeal, but I prefer the pose Dan and Patti chose.

The Background
As you saw above, the photo shoot was done in front of a plain white background, and you've probably guessed that the background was added later. That's true, but there's more to the story than that.

The first step was to purchase an image with the basic design.

If you compare this to the final cover, you'll see many similarities, but also many differences. In addition to the color of the building, the background is different. That's because Dan Thornberg used the photo below to substitute hills for the second row of buildings.

He also made a number of other changes to create this final background. How many can you find?
One of the first things I noticed was that the flowers on the right side are different from the hollyhocks in the original art. The ground in front of the store is also different. And then ... I'll let you search for the other differences.

The First Cover
Before the cover is finalized and presented to the sales staff for their approval, the design is sent to the author for her comments.
My first reaction was that I loved it. As I said before, I think it's one of the best covers I've had, but there was one problem. Can you find the difference between this and the final version?

You're right. The problem was that the store name says "tionery." It's true that Lydia's store is a confectionery, but its name is "Cimarron Sweets." I knew readers would be as bothered by that discrepancy as I was, so I asked for it to be changed. Fortunately, that was an easy modification.

The Back Cover
With the front cover completed, it was time to write the back cover copy and design the back cover. Like every aspect of the manuscript-to-finished-book process, it was a team effort. One person was responsible for obtaining the endorsements; another wrote the back cover copy; still others were involved in the actual design of the back cover. But at last, everything was finished and ready to be sent to the printer.
I'm thrilled with the final product and hope you find it as beautiful as I do.

You can find more information about A Stolen Heart, including an excerpt, on my web page.  And if you'd like to order a copy, here are some buying links:
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book Distributors

Other Cover Art Blogs
As I promised at the beginning of this rather long blog, here are links to previous posts I've done about cover art.

Summer of Promise
Waiting for Spring 

I hope you enjoyed learning more about the process of creating a book cover. I can't wait to see what Revell has in store for the next one in the series.

Wednesday in Wyoming -- January 18, 2017

The project managers wanted to make sure there was no question about what is happening to the state capitol, and so they posted signs on the chain link fence that surrounds the construction site.  This section states the obvious -- that the capitol is closed -- and also directs visitors to the temporary locations of the various state offices.

Rather than have a boring, utilitarian fence around the capitol, the project team embellished the fence in front of the building with pictures of the capitol's past as well as key sites from around Wyoming.  Of course, nothing can completely disguise the piles of dirt and the heavy equipment.  They're all necessary parts of progress.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- January 11, 2017

Remember last week's picture of scaffolding on the capitol?  While the scaffolding remained in place, the Wyoming weather dictated protection for the building while the renovations were underway. That's why it's now wrapped in what looks like Tyvek.

Have you seen buildings wrapped like this?  It's fairly common here in Wyoming when brick is being installed during the winter, but -- because of the magnitude of the project -- this wrapping will remain for longer than normal.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- January 4, 2017

Happy New Year!

This was the sight that greeted visitors to Cheyenne last January -- scaffolding on the west side of the state capitol.  While it may not look too extensive, it was only the first step in a multi-year, multi-million dollar renovation of the state capitol.

I hope you'll come back next week (and, for that matter, for all the Wednesdays in January) to see the progress of the restoration.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- December 28, 2016

Last week we saw how part of the kitchen at the Historic Governors' Mansion was decorated for Christmas.  Let's end the year by visiting the dining room, where guests enjoyed the results of all that cooking.

While few of us host such elegant and elaborate meals, there's no doubt that one of the joys of the holiday season is sharing a meal with friends and family.  I hope that your holidays have been filled with health and happiness, and I wish you and your loved ones a joyous new year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wednesday in Wyoming -- December 21, 2016

As the countdown to Christmas continues, even the kitchen at the Historic Governors' Mansion has its share of decorations.

As you can see from the eight burners and the multiple ovens, Wyoming's governors were accustomed to hosting large dinners. No microwaves here!

Like the other pictures I'm sharing this month, this one comes from the "Tinsel Through Time" exhibit.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Story Behind the WBTS Cover

Did you ever wonder how a cover is created?  I've shared the process that a traditional publisher follows and will do so again, but today I'd like to take you behind the scenes for the creation of the cover for Pamela Trawick's debut novel, Walking Between the Stones.

Since a key scene in the book involves a labyrinth, Pamela wanted the cover to include one.  She provided talented cover designer and best-selling author L.A. Sartor with a photo of the labyrinth that had inspired the story.

It's an interesting labyrinth, but I couldn't imagine how L.A. would turn this into a cover.  Fortunately, L.A. is a master at Photoshop, not to mention a gifted artist.  Though she was on a writing retreat, supposed to be working on her next book, she spent hours and hours and hours on the cover.

Here's the first version:
There are a few problems with this, the first of which is the type font.  When I suggested using Comic Sans Serif, L.A. warned me that it wouldn't work.  She was right.  The second problem was that Pamela didn't like the gray sky.

Undaunted, L.A. changed the font and inserted sky from a picture she'd taken at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Many of us liked this cover, but Pamela didn't.  She had two very good reasons for being concerned about the sky.  The first was that the dark blue on the left made it difficult to read the letters.  The second was that the sky didn't mirror the tone of the book, which is lighter than readers might expect.

Instead of simply saying that she wasn't pleased with the cover, Pamela took a picture of the sky outside her San Jose condo and suggested L.A. use it.

Once again L.A. went back to Photoshop and spent hours getting the sky just right.

That was what the cover needed.  The lighter sky provided more contrast with the title, while the lighter clouds speak of hope.

And so, after many iterations and many, many hours of work, we had a finished cover.

Do you like it?  I do.  Even more importantly, Pamela does.

To learn more about Walking Between the Stones or to order a copy, click here:Amazon