Writing: looking for covers can hurt your eyes

I’ve finished a lot of rewrites lately. My critique partners and I got off schedule and out of rhythm. Life happens. People get busy or sick or take vacations, but I now have two, new novellas ready to go. They’re going to complete a bundle with some of my older Christian/Brina stories. That means I need three, new covers–one for each new novella, one for the entire collection. No sweat. I usually find the images I want to use before I ever write the first word. I fly through the stock picture sites that don’t charge royalties and scroll through page after page until I find the image that sticks with me. Between that and the story’s title, I get the mood and tone that I want to paint with my words. Piece of cake. And it was…for my novellas.

I’ve changed my mind over and over again for Enoch’s new novel. I’m starting rewrites for that on Monday, and I finally found the image I want to use late, last week. I can’t tell you how many images I’ve looked at to find the one that felt right to me. I got desperate enough, I thought I’d just use an image that made me think of Enoch. Not so easy. I can picture Enoch in my mind. He’s tall, dark, intense, and gorgeous–but in a worldly, I’ve-seen-it-all type way. I went to my usual sites. I typed in tall, dark-haired man wearing a long coat, like he does on the cover of Fallen Angels. Only one image came up. Close, but not right on. Enoch’s face is all angles and rugged. I tried all kinds of other key words and was starting to get frustrated. I finally typed in tall, sexy man with dark hair. Oh, lordy! Rippling abs scrolled down my screen, page after page. I would have dehydrated if my husband hadn’t brought me a glass of wine to fortify myself. I found LOTS of hot, sexy men in various forms of undress, but none of them struck me as Enoch. Most were too young. Some looked too friendly or nice. Or they were blond with blue eyes or cute and cocky instead of dark and brooding. Michael (who does my covers) can work many miracles, but he has his limits. It’s not easy carrying a mental image of your protagonist in your head. It’s hard to find a match.

I found a model I thought made a perfect Christian, but he never wore a shirt in any of the pictures I could use. Of course, most models these days don’t wear medieval garb, silly them. I had to force myself to look at page after page of hunks until I finally settled on something that’s not perfect, but has the right feel, at least, for me. Who knows how readers envision my characters? Anyway, some research is harder than others. If you see me and I have bloodshot eyes, you’ll know it’s because I’ve been working so hard:) Hope you’ve been hard at work, too! Finding the right man is still a tough job!

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18 thoughts on “Writing: looking for covers can hurt your eyes

  1. It’s so hard and so important to find the right image for a cover! I love your covers- they are so wonderful!
    My daughter is teaching me to photoshop my images and boy is that a blast. I changed the siloquette from a modern woman to a woman wearing 1870’s dress.
    I was wondering if you press your post to Facebook or twitter? I’d love to help you the way you’ve helped me!

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    1. I’m so jealous that you can photoshop your images. When I posted the image of Enoch on my webpage, the face and expression were how I picture him, but his eyes are brown, not blue, and I didn’t know how to change them. Michael does that when he does my book covers. Now that I’m playing with more pictures, though, I’m going to start tinkering more. And thank you for being so generous about sharing my posts. There should be buttons at the bottom of each one to share to twitter. Mine goes right to my facebook page when I post it. And thanks!

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      1. I’m planning on doing a post on photo shopping soon. Should be interesting.
        Generous. Me? That’s calling the kettle black. Silly lady. YOU’RE the generous one. I’m just taking a page from your book.
        cheers!
        Sue

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  2. Oh yes, I can appreciate this Judy! I must have looked at 10,000 images when choosing the cover for Flirting With Fire, trying to find the right Torrunn. In the end, I settled for an image I’d seen on one of my first days of searching because it had the right “feel” to it. But you’re right–sometimes it is hard to find the right man (or woman) for the job. 😉

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  3. Have had exactly the same problem with my m/c, who is a dark-skinned woman with Western features in a future where all ethnic features have been selectively bred out. But searching pictures of hot men all day? Who says writing is a touch job ;-D

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  4. This is just the post I needed to read as I’m lost in cover purgatory! I’d like to ask if you could post links to the sites you use – I’ve been through a lot of so-called royalty free sites, but find when I go to check the copyright, I can’t use the photo for commercial purposes. Thanks so much for showing that there can be a light at the end of this particular tunnel!

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