Authors and Book Cover Creation

Creating a cover design is a fascinating process. My publisher provided a questionnaire for me to fill out. It gives the artist clues into my story world. Up until this point I had no idea what I wanted. The questions help get the creative juices flowing. The first few questions are basic: Title, author’s name. taglines, theme.

The next set of questions delves into specifics about the main character. What does your hero look like? Any distinguishing marks? Same questions for your heroine. This is where I get to give a clear description of the physical features of my characters. I had the option of adding photos of my ideas about the characters.

Who do my characters look like

The question about what actor or actress do you see playing them in a movie sent me to the internet to find photos. Did you know if you type in red-haired actresses with green eyes that you’ll find a large selection of photos? Evangeline’s hair is burgundy rather than carrot colored. I already had a picture of a model with burgundy hair but looking at more faces really helped narrow down an idea.

I have pictures of Tom Selleck, John Cusack and Sam Elliot all in cowboy garb that give me a feel for Jake. Evangeline looks a bit like Maureen O’Hara or Lori Loughlin (she’d have to dye her hair.)  I found a wonderful picture of Emma Stone. So I am adding photos of these actors to the form.

A fun exercise for you and your story, search the character description: cowboy, regency, blond soldier sees what comes up. If you’re a plotter and an outliner, you have probably already picked out your pictures before you started writing. What you want on the cover may be clearly define in your head. But, if you’re like me and lack artist know-how, you’ll be relying on the designer to bring your idea to reality. FYI: The publisher usually gets the final say on your cover. This is a good thing because they know what sells.

More details

I couldn’t find a picture of my ranch so I settled for writing a description. I got to choose whether I want people on the cover or a landscape. There is lots of room at the bottom of the form for more notes to further clarify.

Note all the covers of fellow-authors I’ve added to this post so you can get a better idea of cover design.

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Mystery Cover

 

Mercy Rains

Historical landscape cover

Genre and time period are important questions as well. Secrets & Charades is set in 1870s so costumes on the cover need to resemble the period. The hoop skirt was no longer in fashion but bustles were popular.

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Fantasy Cover

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Police thriller/ fantasy cover

A fantasy cover might have someone dressed like Star Wars characters. The focus might be on an object that is key to the story line. Perhaps a space ship, a sword or a dragon take center stage in the story.

Comparing covers

There is a place on this form to add comparables. So, books with similar themes (remember that part in your proposal?) can now be used as examples. Those covers show what’s selling.

 

Not good ideas

If the hero is very tall, then he shouldn’t be the same height as the heroine on the cover. Unless of course she is very tall, too. I actually saw this on a cover. Until I read the story I didn’t realize the hero was well over six feet tall. Once I knew this, the cover was a bit disappointing.

If the story takes places in the winter in Florida, it will look different than winter in Alaska. That also goes for trees not native to the area. This will date me, but the movie Wayne’s World was supposed to take place in Aurora, Illinois. One scene in the movie had palm trees in the background. I suppose comedies can get away with that. Book covers not so much.

If your genre is horror you wouldn’t want a sunny sky.

A romance—unless it has vampires or some violent fantasy theme—is not going to have blood and gore on the cover.

Capturing emotion

The form asked me to describe the tone, mood, and attitude. One or two word descriptions can make a big difference in helping the designer get a taste of my fiction world. I had to google these terms to get a deeper understanding of the literary significance. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer so I don’t always have a tone or mood in mind until my characters speak to me.

Defining the tone and mood can make a difference in a novel’s content so it should reflect on the cover. A romantic comedy design is going to look different from a romance with a broken-promise-restored theme. The same with a thriller with a sullen cast of characters versus one with a hopeful mood.

Photo sites give lots of options

You may prefer symbols or settings for your cover. My fellow-writer Gloria Doty has a modern-day cowboy romance series. She opted for boots and a Stetson on the cover of Bringing  a Cowboy Home. She wanted her readers to enjoy their own images of her characters. Photo websites have lots of these sorts of images.

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Publishers purchase the cover art and, if you self-publish, you’d do the same. Linda Yezak has a great cover for The Final Ride. She created it herself using pictures of a model she found online. She purchased the rights to use her likeness. This helped her create her cover.51jgIj4jqfL

Being sure your cover reflects your story means more sales. So, I am taking extra time to fill out this form. Hopefully the designer will get me. If the cover catches the reader’s eye, then they will pick it up. If you’re self-publishing, spend the money on a quality cover. I can’t wait to see what my cover will look like. I’ve been impressed with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas cover designs. The reveal of my design is some months away. But the process begins now.

The back cover is just as important as the front cover. I’ll talk about the process in the next post.

Anyone like to share their experience with cover designs?

 

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Ten years in the Making: A Book Contract

contract

 

If you follow me on Facebook, you saw my recent announcement. I received my first book contract. It only took 10 years to get there. Oh, let’s not forget 20 rejections, many rewrites and several edits. Years of improving my writing skills through online writing courses and writing books.  Ten years of attending conferences. Submitting to magazines and websites with both success and failure. I’ve made the acquaintance of many writers, both newbies and seasoned pros. During my ten year journey I have added agents and publishers to that list of acquaintances.

Help others on the journey

I’ve written over a hundred book reviews and supported my fellow-writers anyway I can. I enjoy helping promote their books and sharing words of affirmation when they were discouraged. I have purposed to invest in others while I worked toward the illusive contract.

Keep learning

Actions such as joining critique groups, following writing blogs and reading a lot propelled me toward the goal of publication. This has been ten years of perseverance and determination. I’d confess “I am a writer” when I wanted to keep that proclamation to myself. Established writers encouraged me to learn how to use social media.  Then I started this blog, Writer’s Patchwork, where all these writerly parts are sown together into the bigger quilt of gaining a contract. (Clever play on words.)

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My award. I am so blessed.

Never give up

Anyway, the point I’m trying to press home is don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged and keep helping others in the industry. Keep focusing on your goal and over time you’ll get that book contract.

Come follow me

It will probably be a year before my novel will be available for sale. During that time, I will be posting the next stretch of my journey. Even though I have a contract, a mountain-load of work remains to be done before I see my book in print. I’ll share my experiences in hopes of inspiring all of you to keep going. And give you a glimpse into the process of contract to book shelf.

 If you don’t want to miss a post of my continuing journey, please subscribe in the right hand column.

 

Guest Blog -Birthdays always a time to reflect

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While I spend time with my father who is recuperating from surgery Charlotte Snead has graciously agreed to fill in. Loved her candor.

Many folks my age are retired, traveling the world or content with their laurels. Some of my friends have died. I’ve reared five incredible children who are making contributions to society, and one foster daughter, who says she wouldn’t know Jesus if we hadn’t been her mama and papa. (She’s my best salesperson, as a beautician, she talks my books up to her customers!) I’ve had a good life, and if I die tomorrow, I’ve had it all, but I can’t be content. I published my first book, His Brother’s Wife, in 2011 and two more last summer (2013). My husband is an orthopedic surgeon. He will be 75 in April, but he studies, goes to conferences, and operates. (He has cut back to four days a week.) Every day we pray he has the opportunity to lift up Jesus to his staff, his patients, and his colleagues.

Is something wrong with us? I think not. Something is very right with us. We are abundantly blessed, and we continue to be on fire to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, each of us in our own way, and both of us agreeing for one another. I write from my experiences—fiction, but novels that contain conversations I have had in my work in Pregnancy Care ministry, as the mother of a Special Forces soldier (who has been in dangerous situations), and as a MOPS mentor, teaching women to revere Life and to love their husbands.

My first book and the second one, Invisible Wounds, deal with our brave young warriors and the wounds, both physical and psychological, that they carry. Recovered and Free, the first of a 4-book series, about a recovered alcoholic and his musical family, is set in my beloved West Virginia, where blue grass music and the Christian faith are alive and well. It’s been a journey, going to writers’ conferences, writing seminars and critique group, but I want to write well to touch hearts.

I believe the best writing comes from personal experience. Married 52 years, I know the choices that improve or hurt a marriage. My mother was alcoholic—I’ve lived that, too. As the mother of a son who has buried over 60 close friends, I know the pain of serving in war. I founded and directed a pregnancy care ministry and still serve on its board, so I know the heartbreak of unplanned pregnancy and abandonment. As a MOPS mentor, I deal with the struggles of young married women. Some might say I go over the edge, speak too frankly, but I have had these conversations. I am earthy and Real–a real Titus 2 woman, teaching about real issues, and praying my little stories will enable others to face their lives, holding tightly to God’s hand.

As long as readers tell me my books are healing or saved a life, or someone found Christ. I’ll keep writing.

Charlotte Snead pic

Charlotte Snead, published by Oak Tara, has three romance novels in print: His Brother’s Wife, Invisible Wounds, and Recovered and Free. Married to Dr. Joseph Snead, they have five adult children and one foster daughter. They have seven grandsons and live on twenty acres in rural West Virginia.

A reminder to all commenters. Your name will be put in a drawing for Charlotte’s novel Recovered and Free: The Prodigal Father. Just leave a comment with your email written in this format- myemail at myserver dot com. I will contact the winner for a snail mail address to forward to Charlotte.

Here are the links to her books.

His Brother’s Wife

Invisible Wounds

Recovered and Free

Don’t forget to click the link at the right to follow this blog.

 

An Interview with Author Charlotte Snead: The Why behind her Novels

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I am pleased to have my friend Charlotte Snead as a guest on my blog. I meant Charlotte a few years ago at the Write to Publish Conference. I was impressed with her enthusiasm about life. She had a novel written and she was going full speed ahead. She was new to the writing scene after retiring from a nursing career and raising a passel of kids. Her idea was gritty and she shared her storyline with passion.

Charlotte has published that novel His Brother’s Wife, and its sequel Invisible Wounds. She has begun her new series with Book one of the Sing Over Me Series. Each with a controversial topics, romance and redemption. She keeps it real in a tasteful and fun way.

Charlotte when did you decide to take up this writing life?

I took up writing at the urging of an elderly aunt, who loved our Christmas letters and my stories about my various ministries, urging me, “You ought to write a book.” My first book, an imperfect offering, self-published in 2008 was a response to a need I saw in the prolife community. Called Missy’s Choice, it portrayed a young Christian teenager who was raped by three boys and chose life for her baby. I was unwell at the time and hurried to complete it, thinking my time was limited. As flawed as that book was, I heard from those who chose life and even some who found Christ. Now that I am a better writer, my publisher has suggested a rewrite, so it will be published as Gracie, Goodbye, the first of a 5-6 book series called The Hope House Girls.

What’s your writer’s day like?

My perfect day begins at 6 or 7 AM, down in my basement. I have a hide-away I call “The Salt Mines,” because I work hard, and I desire my writing to be salt and light to the world. When no one is home, I work uninterrupted until lunch, and return after a break. Unfortunately some days I must attend to social media and a blog—marketing is the bane of my existence! One day a week is set aside for Mothers of Preschoolers. (I serve as the mentor mom.) I love being snowed in because errands wait and I do what I love.

What ministries are you involved in and how does that experience play into your novels?

I consider my writing to be my ministry, but I also serve on the Board of the Central West Virginia Center for Pregnancy Care, which I founded in 1985. I no longer volunteer on a daily basis, but I remain in close contact with our director and share in decision-making. I am also the mentor mom for the Mothers of Preschoolers group that meets in our church and devote every Thursdays to them. I give devotions at our meetings and when the team has its monthly meeting. I often speak at women’s gatherings.

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In your first book His Brother’s Wife and Invisible Wounds you set your story in the midst of wounded warriors and wounded women. Where did you get the ideas for these books?

My military books flow from my life experience. My son served in the Army for 22 years. My husband was in Viet Nam, and his brother was as well. My dad was a career military officer. When my daughter-in-law had two surgeries, I was in and out of Walter Reed. Seeing those Wounded Warriors getting on the elevators, struggling with their missing limbs, I wanted to tell their stories. Our son, now retired from Special Forces, carries a burden of grief for the over 60 close friends he has laid to rest in Lot 60, that part of Arlington Cemetery set aside for Iraq and Afghanistan fallen. I tithe the proceeds of His Brother’s Wife and Invisible Wounds to the Wounded Warriors Project.

Enjoying intimacy in marriage and understanding our sexuality are issues you address in these first two books as well. From a Christian perspective why is this important?

As the MOPS mentor, I have helped many women with marital intimacy. Their favorite presentation—we usually have guest speakers, but I take the helm each February to give my “Sex Talk.” We are crowded that day! Married 52 years, I know how important a healthy sexual relationship is in marriage. Tragically, the church doesn’t portray the joy God intends in his sacred gift. I want my books to encourage women to enjoy the gift God has given us.

Your settings are beautiful and often rural. Do you use photographs? Are they places you’ve been to?

You have given me an idea here. I should use photographs. Yes, these are places I know and love. I live in West Virginia on 20 beautiful wooded acres. West Virginia is a beautiful state, and Arlington Cemetery is a sacred place where my father and uncle lie. I have lived in the D. C. area as an “army brat,” and I have bowed my head at Lot Sixty to honor those who have laid down their lives so that we might be free. I have researched other places—I’ve never been to an opulent penthouse in New York, but to write His Brother’s Wife I went on line with real estate sites and took virtual tours of various properties. What a great age to be a writer!

Recovred and Free  book cover

Your newest series Singing Over Me focuses on a musical family. Book one Recovered and Free: The Song Of A Prodigal Father is about a recovered alcoholic. Tells us the why behind the story.

Recovered and Free also flows out of life experience. My mother was alcoholic, and I know the pain of the child of an alcoholic. I had to understand the disease to forgive. Sadly she surrendered to Christ on her death bed and I did not enjoy life with her “recovered and free.” I processed my forgiveness after her death, realizing she loved me to the best of her ability, given her handicap.

Is it a spin-off from another story?

The Singing Over Me series spins from my first book, Missy’s Choice, picking up with a healed, grown up Missy who helps her father return to the family he abandoned. Through his music, she finds her way to her own ministry.

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What is the next topic you will be covering in this series?

The next book in the Singing series, due out soon, is When I Am in Your Arms, also a song title. The hero of this book is the incorrigible producer of O’Malley Productions, a Hispanic man who survived years of abuse in foster care. His healing, like Ian O’Malley’s, comes in the arms of his wife, where he feels God’s love.

Charlotte is giving away a copy of her book Recovered and Free: The Song of a Prodigal Father to a lucky commenter. Leave your comment with your e-mail address written as follows: my email at server dot com.

I will notify the winner to get your snail mail to send to Charlotte. I am running this give away until the end of the week. Wednesday  Charlotte will return as a guest blogger.  My father is having surgery as this blog is posting and will be hospitalized for the week. I will watch the comments. Please feel free to comment on Wednesday’s post to be added to the same give-away.

Charlotte Snead, published by Oak Tara, has three romance novels in print: His Brother’s Wife, Invisible Wounds, and Recovered and Free. Married to Dr. Joseph Snead, they have five adult children and one foster daughter. They have seven grandsons and live on twenty acres in rural West Virginia

Book links.

His Brother’s Wife

Invisible Wounds

Recovered and Free

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