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:
Amazon
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.

22 comments:

  1. A lot more goes into the cover than it first might appear! As Mr. Spock would say, "Fascinating."

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    1. It is fascinating, isn't it, Brad? I'm always amazed at how much attention to detail is needed to make a good cover.

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  2. Enjoyed seeing the process! Thank you for sharing!

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  3. Wow, what a great post. I noticed it looked like her blouse was brownish in the photo shoot, did they change the color? And I want to study your back cover more.

    Thanks for posting this. Revell goes beyond and it shows. Add your keen eye and careful attention to your "worksheet", and it's a winning cover.

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    1. Leslie -- I was puzzled by the color of the blouse in the photo shoot, too. The model was wearing the purple striped one that Patti had shown me, but for some reason it didn't look the same in the outtakes. I'll have to see if Revell can explain the reason.

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    2. Hi Everyone! My name is Patti Brinks and I was the Art Director for this cover. We immediately knew the color of the blouse would not work with the skirt so we had the photographer/freelancer we used for this particular cover change the color of the shirt from the grey to purple before we even showed the image to Amanda. We work with some wonderful freelancers with incredible talent!

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    3. Patti -- Thanks so much for explaining what happened with the blouse.

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  4. Wow, what a process. You have a great publisher that spends lots time and effort to give you just the right look. Love it. Cheers

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    1. Marilyn -- Revell is a fabulous publisher. I can't say enough good things about them, because everyone I've worked with has been topnotch. It is truly a privilege to be one of their authors.

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  5. Love the post, Amanda. Great job and great cover. Makes me want to see if I can peek behind the scenes of my upcoming covers too. Enjoyed this.

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    1. Ann -- It's always fun to see the process that Revell follows, because their attention to detail is so great. That's one of the things that makes their covers so eye-catching.

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  6. What an interesting process! Thanks for enlightening us about how book covers come to be!

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading about the process. I find it fascinating!

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  7. Great post, Amanda. I love this cover, too, and feel it will delight readers. Always enjoy learning about design and all the thought and care that goes into making them. I have a new one coming up and can't wait!

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    1. Laura -- Isn't it amazing how Revell creates such different covers for each book and yet each one is perfect for the story?

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  8. Lovely cover, Amanda! that was fun to see the process too. Best wishes with your new release!

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    1. Thanks, Carrie. I'm thrilled with the cover.

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  9. How cool to see how it was done. Thank you!

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    1. Sheila -- Were you surprised by the white background behind the model? I was!

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  10. Amanda, This was a fascinating post. Thank you so much for giving us an in-depth look at how your cover came into being. It is a beautiful cover.
    I can't wait to read the book!
    Blessings~
    Robbie
    (aka RobbyeFaye, aka Robbye)

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    1. Robbie -- I'm glad you're as fascinated by the process as I am. Revell has already started working on the next cover, and the art director has been sending me pictures to include in a post about it. It'll be months before the cover is finished and approved, but it's exciting to be involved in the early steps.

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