BY VICTORIA ABBOTT AKA MARY JANE AND VICTORIA MAFFINI
This past week, we revealed our cover for the fifth book collector mystery, The Hammett Hex. We got a lot of great comments about the cover and, indeed, we love it. Many of you have mentioned this on Facebook as well, but we know that not all of you are there. So here goes:
Of course, we love the pug and the sense of mystery. The broken window gives us the shivers.
While we were showing it off, some of our readers have asked where we get our covers done and we thought it might be fun to talk about that and about what makes a good cover.
First let us say that we have been very pleased with all the covers in the book collector series. There have been two different cover artists, but they both totally 'got it'. If you're interested in the process, the publisher commissions the artist to do a painting and the artist tries to reflect concepts from the book.
This painting is then turned into a cover design by the publisher through the art department. Cover design is an art in itself, the colors, the placement of the words, the fonts – if there is a cover quote. An appealing cover is very good news for the author and for the reader. The reader will draw some conclusions from the cover, such as ‘there will be a pug in it’, there will be a bookstore, and it will be a cozy mystery. You may even draw a conclusion about where the book is set. You could be right.
Publishing houses and difference sub-genres have their own style of cover and not every cover pleases the author, especially those where the cat or the dog is just plain wrong.
Cozy covers tell you, in their own gentle way, that there won’t be explicit sex, a lot of ‘language’ or graphic violence. They also suggest there will be a comfortable and interesting ‘everyday world’ for the protagonist and her (usually a her!) friends, family and pets. It may also give you an idea that the writer will woo your through your senses: the taste of cookies, the silkiness of a cat’s fur, the scent of a flowering bush. You get the idea!
The big publishers rarely take cover suggestions from authors. Smaller ones may be willing to. MJ was lucky enough to be able to suggest a cover to her Canadian publisher for her second Fiona Silk comic mystery, Too Hot to Handle. It was a painting by a certain Victoria Maffini , who as you probably know is half of Victoria Abbott, with MJ being the other half. MJ sent the image to the publisher and she agreed to use it for the book. As many things catch fire in Too Hot to Handle, it seemed right.
MJ tried to buy the painting itself, but before that could happen, the painting (which was part of an exhibit) was purchased and on its way to Nova Scotia with its new owner. As we were both born in NS, that seemed not too bad.
And now a walk on the strange side: Speak Ill of the Dead, MJ's first Camilla MacPhee book featured a cover with a cat and tulips, both of which featured in the book. The book was translated into Russian by a small publisher in Ukraine. We'll spare you the cover which featured a naked woman lying in a patch over her eyes, lying upside down in a pool of blood. The worst cover anywhere and NOT an image from the book. The publisher was so horrified that she called from home to apologize when she saw the cover. Oddly enough, it sold very well in Russia.
Some of the chicks have fabulous indie books and even multiple indie series as you know. Indie authors are in charge of everything: arranging for cover art and design as well as all the other editorial and production. They often end up with spectacular covers as well as creative control. Who doesn’t love to be in charge of their own books?
Here’s a great cover for Golden Girl from The Hollywood Nights Series, our own Mary Kennedy’s YA series. Don't you get the sense of the book? As you can see Mary is having fun writing this series and getting the word out. I love the teaser too.
And can't you feel the romantic tension in the covers of Maggie Sefton's historical The Widow and the Rogue. series? I love this cover too. It made me want to dive right in to find out what happened between them, and of course, the mystery too.
Our Lorraine Bartlett, as you know, has several series. I do not believe she ever sleeps. From her compelling Jeff Resnick mysteries (as L.L. Bartlett), here's what I think it a terrific cover and of course, I love Jeff!
As you can see, we all have a lot going on. Hope you liked the cover talk. The Chicks have so many great covers, it was hard to narrow it down. We may have to revisit this topic again.
We hope you will feel free to pop in and talk covers (what do you like?). Do you choose a book by its cover? We want to know. And by the way, if you have trouble posting comments here on the blog, perhaps try a different browser.
Don’t forget to join us here on the Cozy Chicks Blog every Saturday for Spotlight, a new Cozy Chicks feature when we each take a Saturday a month (and Duffy takes a Sunday) to introduce you to some of our characters with a bit more detail. Get to know us better!
I'll see you on Saturday when we'll spend a bit of time with Jordan Bingham from our book collector mysteries.