You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
— Bo Diddley
Horse feathers! As much as I respectfully disagree with Mr. Diddley, I just have to say the man knows “diddley” squat about publishing! Not only can you judge a book by its cover, but according to a statistic quoted in Publisher’s Weekly, 12% of people who buy books do so because of the cover. Now 12% may not sound like a lot, but when you figure that 3.13 billion books are sold every year, that’s a LOT of pulp, people!!
First impressions are important, whether valid or not, and the first glimpse of a cover is a first impression to a potential reader. Which is why my covers are so very important to me and why my prayer partners and I have prayed about every single one well in advance.
So while I was cleaning out my files a few weeks ago, I came across the portfolio shot of the model who posed for Collin McGuire on the cover of A Passion Most Pure, and I thought it might be fun for you to hear some of the background on each of my covers because as high maintenance as I can be, each book cover has been a real trip.
Because A Passion Most Pure was my debut model, I had no idea what to expect with the cover process NOR any common sense to know that I was a newbie who needed to keep her mouth shut. Fortunately for me, the artist I work with at my publishing company is one of the sweetest human beings on the planet, and she was kind enough (and patient enough) to work with me to get a cover I would happy with. As an author, initially I send my publisher my character descriptions and personality traits, along with pics of movie stars or models I think they resemble. My publisher actually does two different shoots—the first of the female model, then later another shoot with the male model, which they strip into the first pics for the final cover. So unfortunately for the model who played Faith O’Connor, she never got to meet the male model who played Collin McGuire, which in my opinion is a real shame, as you can see from the portfolio shot of the model who played Collin. Hubba hubba!
Initially, the artist sent me pix of Faith with her hair long and a pretty, lacy top that was a bit off-shoulder and showed a lot of her back and neck. “Oh, no,” said to my artist, “Faith’s hair looks like a prairie romance, and this is 1916 Boston we’re talking about here, so can we put her hair up?” Yes, we could and did, much to my relief. “Can you make the hair a little redder and the eyes a little greener?” I asked. No problem. Then they gave Faith a high-neck dress, which I thought worked a lot better—more chaste and proper for a modest young Bostonian. And FYI, in the pics with Faith, keep in mind they used some guy on the set to stand in for Collin for placement purposes only. So far, so good, right?
And then the tears began. The artist sent me a pic of Collin with a namby-pamby, almost weak smile and I started to cry, telling my husband he looked like a wimp. “Do you have any other shots from the shoot?” I asked the artist. “Only one other,” she said, “but Collin looks mad in it, and nobody thought it would work.” “Can I see it?” I asked, hope springing in my chest. And the rest is history. I took one look at the smoldering, moody face of Collin McGuire, the man who was angry because he couldn’t have the woman he wanted, and I knew we’d struck pay dirt.
On book 2, A Passion Redeemed, it was a real wild ride!! I showed you the pic of the cover model for my hero a while back, and I am repeating it here for comparison. You can imagine my shock when I received the first cover in which he had slicked-down hair and looked like an English dandy. More waterworks, of course, and I begged my artist to “play” with the cover for me, giving stubborn hero more of an iron jaw and an angrier look in the eyes (all my heroes tend to be angry for some reason … maybe because they have to deal with me!). “The hair has got to go,” I said, so I searched on the Internet for 30 minutes for just the right head of hair—blond rumpled curls instead of slicked down, and my artist agreed the changes worked. Did I mention before what a saint my publisher artist is??? Here is a before and after to show you what we did.
Suddenly I zeroed in on Charity and noticed that the very buxom, drop-dead gorgeous vixen named Charity O’Connor was not as buxom as I’d hoped and even less than her sister, Faith, who was supposedly unendowed. So, as a final change to the cover, my artist graciously endowed Charity with a bit more charm as you can clearly see in the before and after.
I had given my poor artist so much grief on the first two books, that I made up my mind that I would take the cover for A Passion Denied any way they gave it to me, no complaints. And so, despite my utter shock at the model who looked NOTHING like the Lizzie in my mind, I kept my mouth shut and prayed. And guess what? Right before the cover was finalized, my publisher intervened on her own and said this first model didn’t fit the character image, so she ordered a second shoot and VOILA — L izzie was born, and I never had to say a word!
So no one can te ll me covers aren’t important, because they are, and I cannot thank my publisher enough for working with me like they do and bending over backwards to address my concerns. I have since found out that most authors do not have the luxury of so much input on their covers, and so I am doubly grateful.
Because you may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but you sure in the heck can judge a CDQ by her reaction to it, and let me tell you—it ain’t pretty.
A HEART REVEALED is out in 17 DAYS!!!! If you would like a chance to win a signed copy, please come see me at “Come Meet Ausjenny” blog at http://ausjenny.blogspot.com/2011/07/getting-to-know-you-thursdays-with_28.html
where I have an interview up and will be giving away a signed copy of winner’s choice of any of my books.
Then please check my website calendar at http://www.julielessman.com/julies-calendar/
Because I have a number of blog giveaways coming up. In the past I have given away at least 50 signed books in blog giveaways before the release of my next one, but due to time constraints, I will only be doing ten blog interview/giveaways this year, so don’t miss out, okay?
Have a great weekend, and next week I’ll announce the winners of my RSS feed and MaryLu Tyndall free download contest that ends July 31st. For details, simply scroll down to the end of my Friday, July 22 Journal Jot and may the best women win!