And then there are days when the long hours and frustrating conundrums give way and show you why you’re working so hard. I have SEEEEEN the mass market cover for Black Magic Sanction, and it is beautiful. It’s not only beautiful, but it’s gorgeously beautiful. (Can’t show you yet. Way too soon.) I honestly don’t know how or why I luck out, but the cover guys have always put that extra effort into my covers, turning them from excellent to excellent, classy, and something that takes my breath away–bringing to life the soul of the characters.
A word on covers . . . The bigger your publisher, the less say the writer usually has. And in hindsight, that might be a good thing, because covers are an art form, designed not to give you a picture of the characters or story line, but rather a platform to put elements on a billboard, elements carefully chosen to tell the reader what’s inside more than a picture ever could. But the best cover artists will find a way to do both. And by-the-by, I feel like I’ve got a good amount of say. My editor usually comes to me with color ideas, themes, places, outfits, and I can give my input, and then she comes back with more ideas, and it gets fine tuned.
For example, the hard cover artwork for BMS has a babe in leather, her middle showing to indicate she’s sexually active, has a knife to show she’s not a doormat and there will be
some action. The colors are black and blue, with a pop of red to startle, chosen to give the book a distinctive look over the previous title, but in the same tint or color scheme to blend harmoniously next to it. The fog was a late addition to hide Rachel’s face to satisfy a book buyer or something, but most of the other covers have fog, indicating there will be a touch of mystery. Gargoyle lets you know right off that we’re talking paranormal if the title didn’t clue you in, and the setting high above the city lets you know that bigger issues are involved. The author name is the biggest print on there, which in some circles means that the Kim Harrison name is starting to sell the book now, not just the cover and back story flap. (Makes me feel good, like I’ve got a positive reputation and people are starting to trust the storyteller to deliver, no matter what.) Even the font for the title means something to the potential reader, and is chosen with an eye for attracting the person that would appreciate what’s between the covers. It doesn’t matter if her hair isn’t curly, or she’s never worn an outfit like that, or she doesn’t have a leather armband. The armband tells you she’s tough, and that’s what it’s there for.
And all this above is put together using the basic artistic design balance of threes, and spacial relationships, and all the good stuff that attracts us and we don’t even know it.
So I delight in my covers when I see them, having an inkling of what goes on to produce them. When the artist is excited about the work, it shows, and that makes me feel good, too.
As for the mass market cover? I can’t show you yet. (na-na,-na na, na-a-a-a-a na) Evil author grin. But it’s got everything the hard cover has, and then some.