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“Covered” In Happy

I got a preview of my first published novella’s cover last night. /shrieks in glee

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the cover design process – how authors have no input, how art directors will instruct artists to put on certain components because those things sell and not because they are in the story, nobody working on the cover even read the story, and so on.

Also, and you guys know you’ve thought the same thing, there are a lot of baaaaaad covers out there in digital publishing.

The Carina Press blog has been revealing the launch covers one by one, so I was reasonably confident “bad with six As” wasn’t going to happen. Also, I don’t know how this works anywhere else, but I had a “cover fact sheet” I had to fill out describing the setting, the characters, the mood, etc. (More on that in a second.) So I certainly got an opportunity to influence the process.

This fact sheet, by the way, was the same form all Harlequin writers get. Carina is a totally independent part of Harlequin, if that makes sense. My stuff won’t be sold on the Harlequin website, because it doesn’t fit in the very precisely defined parameters for a Harlequin story. Harlequin makes money because their readers have expectations that are consistently met. But Harlequin’s established publishing machinery, such as the team creating the covers and doing the marketing, is being put into play for Carina.

But back to the cover. I’m dying that I can’t post it yet. What I saw was an advance copy, one that is not final because there are still some tweaks to be made. Again, the “authors have no input” meme comes from somewhere, I don’t doubt that, but I was given the opportunity to give feedback on the cover.

Not that I had anything bad to say. It is so perfect, y’all. The one thing I didn’t love was the thing they’ve already decided to tweak. Everything else is terrific. In every way, it evokes the best parts of the story. The models look like my characters to a freakish extent. One of the men looks precisely like I imagined him. So does the woman. The other man has chest hair in the story, and the artist posed that model so that his chest isn’t visible. I had read that hair on cover models doesn’t sell books these days, and I really want to sell books, so I was braced for the idea that both males would be as hairless as twelve year old boys. So you can imagine how excited I am that they represented my character as he was, but in a way that might… sell books.

Now here is the funny thing, for me. The cover depicts a night scene. I just checked my fact sheet – when I mentioned the visual hook, I mentioned the quality of the afternoon light. Most of the scenes happen during the day, in early summer. I talked about how much these characters love the outdoors and they’re always hanging out on a deck overlooking the river.

I conclude either the art team read the book, or my wonderful editor was closely involved. The river is there, but the lighting is moonlight. Two of the most important scenes in terms of showing the dynamic between the three people are at night. This cover gets to the heart of my story in a way that my own fact sheet completely missed.

They need to make the planned tweaks, and then the Carina blog has dibs on the cover reveal before I can post it. I’m just too excited to not post about it this morning, and I thought all three of you would enjoy hearing about the process. Now I’m going to go celebrate by putting down some words on the NEXT story.

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