Images and Inspiration

I wrote a short novel and put it on my webpage, one chapter at a time.  I expected to have River City Rumble pulled together and online at Amazon by now.  Only, I’ve never had to format any of the novellas and novels I write.  Michael Prete designs the covers, and I love them!  Sharon Pelletier at Dystel and Goderich formats them for me, and I love that, too!  I’ve been spoiled, so I didn’t think twice about sending her what I’d merged.  What I didn’t stop to consider was that I put an image at the beginning of every chapter.  I thought they added a unique flavor to the book.  They did!  BUT, they’ve been a pain for Sharon to format for Amazon.  And I feel really sorry about that.  I didn’t mean to make extra work for her.  She didn’t want me to yank them, though, so hopefully, the entire manuscript, put together, will go online next week.  And Sharon deserves a medal.

I don’t know how many of you have searched for images for your books/stories, but that’s a process in itself.  I didn’t stay true to solid marketing for my urban fantasies.  If you go to bookstores, my covers are off the mark.  My favorite urban fantasy authors all have heroines on the covers who look like warriors.  Ilona Andrews has Kate Daniels with her sword.  Faith Hunter has Jane Yellowrock in black leather.  And Patricia Briggs has Mercy Thompson with her tight abs and tattoos.  Their images say “Don’t mess with me.”  But I wanted covers that connected more with the stories I told.  That’s how I chose the images for all of my Babet and Prosper novellas.  When I finally gathered them into bundles, though, I realized I was doing it wrong.  So I looked for images that would fit my two characters.  That’s no easy task either.

I finally found an image that fit my idea of Babet–long, unruly, dark hair.  A wand to show she’s a witch.  All I could find for Prosper was great bodies.  Not one face fit the Prosper whom I see in my mind.  So sadly, Prosper was reduced to a wonderful torso, because no matter how many men I looked at on the royalty-free sites, none of them were the wonder I imagine when I think of him.  Finding a gargoyle to portray Damian in my Wolf’s Bane novels proved impossible.  A fallen angel for my Enoch series?  Forget about it.  And no one could capture Tyr in Empty Altars.

Patricia Briggs did an interview recently in which she talked about writing urban fantasy, and she explained what she thought a good book cover should offer.  It’s about halfway or more down the Q&A column, but worth reading.

A good cover can sell your book.  It’s a marketing tool, worth thinking about.  If you self-publish, the image has to come from a site where you can buy one, royalty free.  The cover needs to give a reader the feel of the genre you’re writing, the tone of the story, and tie novels together if you’re working on a series.  Choose wisely.  I love mine, but I didn’t follow the rules.  You should.

When I signed with Kensington, the publisher chose the covers for the books, and that proved interesting, too. Publishers think about marketing.  They think about how readers will react when they look at your book.  Will the cover pull them in?  What emotion will it convey?  Will the cover make them pull the book off the shelf and read the blurb, maybe glance at a few pages?

Here’s the cover Michael Prete designed for River City Rumble.  He did exactly what I asked for.  It fits the story–the battles that escalate as the story progresses.  I love it.  Would a publisher use it?  Probably not.




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Twitter:  @judypost



2 thoughts on “Images and Inspiration

  1. This is a reminder of how much time we have invested in seeing what works. Not everything we threw at the wall stuck. My regency covers are all originals because I have always been put off by frou-frou bodice ripper covers. Only one reader disliked the covers. I expect I would get more readers with different designs, but I have to do what I like and the regencies are selling OK. For the next contemporary series, I’ll do the commercial thing. See, you can teach an old dog new tricks.


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