Covers at Small Presses

Cover art is a fun thing that authors (like me) often get pretty excited about. It’s the visual representation of all the work in our novels, after all.

At large publishers, there are marketing meetings (hat tip to Katharine Ashe for the link) to talk about author covers, and the cover is the biggest marketing strategic move that they have to make. Sometimes authors get input (like if you’re Jenny Crusie), but often they just have to deal with what they get, whether it fits their vision or not.

It’s similar for small publishers, although they don’t generally have the resources for entire huge marketing teams. Whiskey Creek Press (my publisher for Shooting Stars) provides a cover created by an in-house cover artist and then allows the author to request up to 5 hours of changes.

First, the author fills out this giant questionnaire about their book: character descriptions, important elements, anything they’d really like to see on the cover, genre, etc. Here’s some of the stuff I provided:

The Hero

The Heroine

The Setting

Author cover ideas/wants/suggestions: Would love to see both main characters on the cover, as long as they look natural and not too forced or cobbled together. If you could get the camera in there too, that would be great. He could potentially wear a cowboy hat. He does wear one in the book.

What you DON’T want on your cover: Nothing too flowery or sentimental-looking. It’s not that kind of story. The tone is dramatic, but it also has a lot of funny, light moments.

Kendra Egert was my cover artist, and she sent me this first draft, which I loved (click to enlarge):

After sending it around to a few trusted friends, though, and thinking on it some myself, I asked Kendra to make the camera stand out more and make the heroine look a little less… pensive? Sad? Oh, and please (pretty please?) make the heroines eyes blue. My suggestions were all a bit touchy-feely, but Kendra did a great job, and after some back and forth, we ended up with the final copy! (Again, click to enlarge.)

I am really pleased with how it turned out and I think it definitely reflects the feeling of the book. Shooting Stars is available now and I hope you’ll pick it up and give it a try, if not based on the cover, than based on the fact that you love me– haha.

  • I definitely like the changes. The finished cover is striking. I love the mountain scene!

  • very cool. i thought the heroine looked really depressed and passive in the first cover, but adding the camera in prominently made her seem more active and powerful.

  • Thanks! Those mountains are even more gorgeous in person. Photography just can't do them justice. 🙂

  • I think so, too, DB. Her expression is also different in the second one– a little less sad– which I like.