As authors, we fill out a 'cover request form,' and then sit back and hold our breath. What happens between sending in that form and having a cover to display? I asked Syneca to share the process.
The first thing that happens when the Graphics Department receives a cover request is that Will, our cover liaison files it into a folder for me. I read the request and then either assign it to an artist (including myself).
In the case of Starting Over, we went through a bit of a refining process to get Terry's vision correct, but once we understood the feel of what she wanted I knew what would work. I'd taken some shots of an eagle in my back yard in the spring and one of them was perfect for the cover. Will and I scoured around through all of our photo resources and found two women that I used to create the woman in the background. (One for the face and the other for the hair). Once I had the cover completed I took it to my boss, Exec. VP Darrell King. In case you all don't know, Darrell is to cover art what Yoda is to the Jedi. A master baby!! He can spot a problem in a cover in a nanosecond. The man has an amazing eye along with being an extraordinary artist. In this instance, Darrell gave the cover the green light and it was a go. We did some tweaking with color and focus and everyone was happy.
I have to say that as a general rule of thumb most of the writers for CP and EC - and now Lotus Circle, are easy to work with. Normally authors are a bit apprehensive on their first cover and tend to be a little less trusting of the artists. Once they have a book under their belt, they relax and start to trust us. Some of the writers are so trusting they just send a character description with a synopsis and say "wow me". LOL, we try and I have to say that I love it when we're allowed such creative freedom. It enables us to really do what we do best and that is create covers. We love getting suggestions from authors and to be honest, there are a lot of authors who have incredible ideas and combining creative talents with them is a lot of fun.
We do sometimes run into difficulties with cover requests. Sometimes things authors ask for just are not possible. It's not like we can rush out and do a photo shoot for each and every cover. When that happens I'm straight up with the authors and find that being straight with them and working on a variation on the original theme often produces great results.
Some things like backgrounds or landscapes, or even sets we can do on the fly. We're always digging into the prop box (things we pick up from flea markets, garage sales, and even a couple of times stuff that people are just throwing away) and setting up a table or desk in front of a window or a photographic backdrop and shooting background stuff for a cover. Or running outside and getting shots of trees or cars or the sky. I tried staying up one night to get shots of the meteor shower but fell asleep sitting on the patio waiting.We have some amazingly talented people working for and with us. Staff and freelance all, they are a great bunch of people. We use photos we take in-house at our own shoots, stock photos we purchase the rights to, and have a fabulous photographer, Les Byerley, who does photography and covers for us. As a rule, we do all of the title work in house. We're a bit picky about the kind of fonts we use and text placement, so normally artists turn in covers without titles and names. When those come in, I do the titles. All covers from the artists come to me. If I feel they're ready to be shown to Darrell King, then I do so. If they need work, I ask the artist for the changes I see that need to be made. When the cover meets my approval then I present it to Darrell. If he deems it worthy then it's a go. If he sees changes that need to be made, then I go back to the artists and we work on making the changes.And then, of course, the covers go to the authors and we all cross our fingers, hold our breath and pray that we get a response saying "Yes!" That is an extremely happy moment for all of us. I'd like to thank you, Terry and all of the authors I've had the pleasure of working with on covers. Everyone realizes the importance of a good cover and we all take it quite seriously. We all understand that whether it's your first book or your one hundredth, each book is part of you and therefore important and worthy of respect. We try hard to make each cover the "most" important one on our plate. Do we always hit the nail on the head? Well, more times than not, I think
Leave a comment and I'll give one lucky poster a copy of the cover for Starting Over. I'll announce the winner on Monday, so be sure to check back.