Wednesday, April 9, 2014

YOU CAN'T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER ... OR CAN YOU?


“You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
   Bo Diddley


Horse biscuits!

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 “Cover Matters” survey conducted by The Book Smuggler’s Blog, a whopping 79% said that book covers play a decisive roll in their decision to purchase a book. Now 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.

Since A Passion Most Pure was my debut novel, 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 be 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. For the Daughters of Boston series, my publisher actually did two different shoots—the first of the female model, then later another shoot with the male model, which they stripped into the first pics for the final cover. 

Initially, the artist sent me pix of Faith with her hair long and wearing a pretty, lacy top that was a bit off-shoulder and showed a lot of her back and neck. “Oh, no,” I said to my artist, “Faith’s hair looks like a prairie romance, and this is 1916 Boston, 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 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,” 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! When my artist sent me the pic of the cover model for Mitch, the gals in my office literally drooled. Although he seemed a bit young for Mitch, he had that gruff, grouchy temper thing going on, which was absolutely perfect because Charity makes Mitch … well, grouchy ... through most of the book.

Imagine my shock when I received the first cover in which this gorgeous male had slicked-down hair and looked like an English dandy. More waterworks, of course, and I begged my artist hubby to “play” with the cover for me, giving my wonderfully 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!).

“Oh, babe, the hair has got to go,” I said to my husband, so I searched on the Internet for just the right head of hair—blond rumpled curls (can you guess the movie star whose hair I stole?) instead of slicked downand my publisher artist agreed the changes worked. Did I mention before what a saint both my husband and publisher artist are??? Here is a before and after to show you what we did.

 Then 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 so 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. Sigh. Book 2 over and done.

Now, I will admit that 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 editor intervened on her own and said this first model didn’t fit the character image, so she ordered a second shoot and VOILA — Lizzie was born, and I never had to say a word!

I can't thank my publisher and hubby enough for working with me like they do 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 can judge a CDQ by her reaction to it, and let me tell you—it ain’t pretty.

Most professionals in the publishing industry agree that an effective book cover is THE BEST marketing tool for any author, traditionally published or indie. And since indie authors are taking the publishing world by storm right now, I thought I’d pass on the best links I found online for great cover tips plus recommend a couple of cover designers the Seekers have used who are top-notch. Mind you, there are tons of great cover designers out there, so if you have recommendations, please feel free to leave their name or website in the comments section. But for brevity sake (and, yes, contrary to popular opinion, I really DO know what the word “brevity” means), I am going to list the three designers that I know several Seekers have chosen.

COVER DESIGNERS THE SEEKERS HAVE USED AND LOVED:

The Killion Group has produced wonderful covers for Ruth Logan Herne and have worked on my formatting as well—they’re wonderful!

Rogenna Brewer has done a fab job for Tina Radcliffe with the following covers and Audra Harder's sensational cover:
  

  


Lena Goldfinch collaborated with Amber Stokes to create Sandra Leesmith’s fabulous covers:
  

THE ONE BRAVE SEEKER WHO DESIGNED HER OWN COVER:
Check out Myra’s indie novel, Pearl of Great Price:

Top Websites I found online for great COVER tips:


FABULOUS blog on fonts by genre:

BULLET TIPS FOR CREATING A GREAT COVER:
Regarding Fonts:
—Shoot for a short title.
—The title should be easy to read in size (big is good), font, color, and design.
—Make sure your spine can be read from five feet away.
—Go for a cover that impacts from 30 feet away.
—Keep jacket blurbs short and sweet.
—Choose a font that conveys the mood of your story (FONTS BY GENRE)
—Avoid overused fonts (TEN MOST OVERUSED FONTS).
—No more than two fonts per cover
—Avoid caps, italics, underline if possible.
—Choose a title that includes the most searched words according to Google (i.e. type in the word that best describes your book and see what top words come up, then try to include them in your title).

Regarding Graphics:
—Research favorite covers in your genre; learn from both good covers & bad.
—Poll various cover choices with your target group.
—Know your reader & research types of book he or she buys.
—Create a mood board for your book to create the feel you want.
—Know the message you want to convey.
—Keep it simple.
—Evoke curiosity.
—Promote natural eye flow.
—Utilize a strong focal point.
—Do thumbnail image to ensure easy readability on Amazon, B&N, etc.
—Never use cheap clip art.
—Never use your own artwork, children’s artwork, or anyone’s except professional artists or graphic designers.
—Do not put an image inside of a box.
—Avoid freakish color combinations.
—Use contrast wisely (i.e. light, never white, on dark for drama (novels, spiritual, etc.); dark on light for instructional (self-help, how-to, business).
—Allow .25” from trim guides to ensure a more professional look.
—Go bold & symbolic: TwilightThe GodfatherHunger Games.


 


Finally, colors convey moods, so choose wisely:

  • Red – Energetic, powerful, passionate, excited, strong, sexy, fast, dangerous.
  • Blue – Male, Cool, conservative, trustful, reliable, safe.
  • Yellow — Warm, bright, cheerful, sunny, cheerful, happy
  • Orange – Warm, playful, vibrant, bold.
  • Green — Natural, fresh, cool, organic, abundant.
  • Purple — Royal, spiritual, dignified
  • Pink – Feminine, soft, sweet, nurturing, secure, gentle.
  • White — Pure, clean, bright, virginal, youthful, mild.
  • Black — Sophisticated, elegant, seductive, mysterious
  • Gold – Expensive, prestigious, affluent
  • Silver – Cold, prestigious, scientific, clinical

GIVEAWAY:
Leave a comment to be entered for your choice of any of my books. EXTRA POINTS IN TODAY'S GIVEAWAY!! Suggest a good cover designer or a tip not mentioned, and you get an extra point for each. OR share this blog today on FB and/or Twitter and get  extra points for each share (up to 2 points).

JULIE’S BIO:
Award-winning author of “The Daughters of Boston” and “Winds of Change” series, Julie Lessman was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. She has also garnered 17 RWA awards and made Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction. Her book A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. You can contact Julie and read excerpts from her books at www.julielessman.com.

176 comments:

Marianne Barkman said...

No clue, Julie...but what an amazing story. I loved the last one. I think that was a God designed cover...or why would you have got the cover you liked without saying a word? Thanks for a look at the behind scenes. And I've got cinnamon rolls again to go with Helen's coffee...I see her coming...

Helen Gray said...

Coffee's in the making.

Covers, back cover blurbs, and the author name on the covers all have an affect on my decision to buy a book

Wilani Wahl said...

Julie, I loved this post. It is so interesting to see all that is involved with choosing a cover. I am keeping this post so when it is time to pick out a cover, I will have the tips.

Please put my name in the hat for one of your books.

Katrina Epperson said...

Julie, I agree that covers are very important. If a book catches my eye it's not the author or publisher's name because usually they are not readily visible. The colors also used must be attractive and eye catching. I have often wondered exactly how much input authors truly have in every aspect from the covers to the publicity. One thing that truly amazes me is how far the designs for book covers have evolved. I usually can look at a book and tell if I will enjoy it. The inside determines how much.
Thank you for sharing.
Blessings

Abbi Hart said...

Loved this post! I thoroughly enjoying seeing the process of cover creating so getting a glimpse into the makings of your covers was a real treat! I'm so glad you spoke up regarding the first two books! They are so much better than the originals!
One tip I have is to also make sure your spine is eye-catching since that's often all a person will see when browsing in a bookstore!

Cindy W. said...

Thank you for sharing Julie. I must admit if I know nothing about an author, the cover is what will draw me to their book(s). Also, when I'm reading and I come across a description of the heroine/hero and if the cover depicts one, or both, I find myself checking it out as to whether the artist got it right.

I would love to be in your giveaway. Thank you for the chance.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

I can't believe, I got up at 2:30 (have to take my mom in for a surgical procedure) and there were already five people who commented.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh my I feel like I've been away forever and that's never good!!!!

JULIE!!!! What a fun post of covers, oh my stars, getting a cover after the tweaking and toning of a story is just like extra frosting on the cake of life. So wonderful!

And those subtle nuances that make a cover jump out for the reader are huge. I love the final model they used for the third book, and of course, Faith's cover is a fave of mine.... And more because of Faith than Colin, there is something about good girl Faith that calls to the "Martha" in me!

Love it!

And thank you for featuring Killion's work with my indie covers. I love them, I love the covers, and I'm so honored by the great reviews that I have absolutely nothing to complain about. THAT IN ITSELF IS A WONDERFUL THING!!!!

Helen, thank you for the coffee!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

My cover art for Love Inspired has been wonderful with one notorious exception... the cabbage book.... but when it came through, it was too late to make changes and you know what? Some folks LOVED IT and compared it to an Italian still life....

I kind of got a kick out of that, because Allegany County is about as far from "Italian Still Life" imagery as you can get, I'd say Charles Wysocki would be a better match, but it was fun to hear!

But other than that one, I have loved the covers and that's a great testimony to the cooperative work between editors and the artistic crew in Toronto....

Their vision has helped bring my stories to life and when I look at my "Lawman" books from Kirkwood Lake, it's Love-at-First-Sight on each of them. Just wonderful insight into bringing covers alive.

Dee LeRoye said...

Definitely, Julie. Great cover story. Who catches the eye in a room full of beautiful ladies? The one with the prettiest costume. And if you should choose my name, anything you have written would be a delight.

Jackie said...

Great post, Julie.

I agree that book covers are important. If the cover isn't very good, I question how good the story is. It may not be fair, but that's how I feel.

I'm impressed how you pushed for a better cover and you succeeded. Way to go.

DebH said...

It is so neat to see the "behind the curtain" in any creative process, Julie. Thanks for sharing. I love posts on book covers and the ladies of Seekerville always seem to have awesome covers. In fact, Seekerville has inspired me to attempt to venture out into the world of book cover design since graphics is one gifting the Lord has given me.

I'm in process of creating mock covers and getting a web page set up, so no link as of yet, but you can be sure I'll let you know when I'm about to debut.

sort of side tracked right now though, on completing the MS for Killer Voices...

I think my professional life is about to hit some major changes and the ladies of Seekerville have been instrumental in helping me keep an ear for that still small Voice telling me which way to go. So THANK YOU!!!! from the bottom of my heart.

DebH said...

oh and p.s.
as a graphic artist, I am a huge cover art person when it comes to picking up and reading a book.

first the art, then the blurb. if you haven't caught me by then, you probably won't. something I'm keeping to the forefront of my mind as I write.

Connie Queen said...

Oh Julie, I think the changes in your in covers was definitely for the better. Small changes make big differences.

I starting to recognize the publisher by the cover. Thomas Nelson has a certain look. As so does Love Inspired. And many others.

Connie Queen said...

..."I started to cry, telling my husband he looked like a wimp." LOL.

Jan Drexler said...

Great post, Julie!

One thing I learned between my first and second bools was to be more specific when filling out the Art Fact Sheets. Without specifics, the cover artists have no idea what my vision for the cover might be.

I'm waiting to see the cover for my August release. On pins and needles! :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Great tips Julie and I can so relate to your work with your publisher's artist. I had a horrible cover in the eighties and could do nothing about it. Of course those weren't done with graphic art. They were painted so really not much you could do to change it without exorbitant expense and time.

We are so blessed now with graphic art and we can plop in the hero and heroine we want.

I liked the color chart. That is helpful.

Thanks for showing my covers. I love working with Lena Goldfinch.

Julie Lessman said...

GOOD MORNING ... "LAZY BUTT," HERE ... or at least that's what my hubby lovingly calls me when I roll out of bed after 7:00 AM ... uh, at least I think it's lovingly ...

I'm in the mood for a Western omelet this morning, loaded up with lots of green peppers, ham, onions, and cheese, so belly up to the omelet bar for your favorite too. The cook is the model for Collin McGuire, so even if you don't like omelets, who cares???

And since I'm into Keurig these days (Ruthy is SUCH a bad influence!!), you have your pick of the following flavors:

--macadamia nut cookie
--caramel machiatto
--cinnamon roll
--creme brulee
--caramel apple
--mud pie
--chocolate mint

and for the straight-up types, we have good, old-fashioned morning blend, along with a wide selection of teas.

Dig in!!

Hugs,
Julie

Debra E. Marvin said...

Oooh! lots of fun. I love COVER stories! thanks Julie.

Are any of you using Pinterest pages to pull together covers? (the answer is going to be yes) How has that worked out?

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, MARIANNE ... I totally agree!! Makes me wonder how much more God would work in my life if I would just keep my mouth shut and follow His lead ... :|

Thanks for bringing the cinnamon rolls -- they're one of my faves. :)

Hugs!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Bless you, HELEN, you barista extraordinaire! And I agree -- cover first, back cover blurb, then I usually check out the first line or paragraph to see if it hooks me in, but the cover is definitely key!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey LANI, thanks SO much, my friend, and even though you will have someone else designing your cover most likely, it is good to have an idea of what to look for in obtaining the best cover possible.

I am SO proud of you, girlfriend, how you jumped into novel writing with SPEEDBO and are now going full speed ahead!! You go, girl!!

Hugs,
Julie

Jeanne T said...

You DO have beautiful covers, Julie! It's fun to see how your covers changed. I loved hearing the process of how they came to be. :)


And though I don't buy a book solely based on its cover, the appearance/first impression does play a factor in the decision of to purchase or not to purchase.

Julie Lessman said...

KATRINA ... I sure didn't expect to have much input at all, but the artist at Revell really surprised me. I think she regrets giving me so much sway now (the poor thing!), but she also respects my hubby's design ability, so it's been fun to work together.
But that's definitely not the norm, I don't think, although I would love to hear from other authors as to their cover experiences to find out.

Good luck in the giveaway!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

ABS!!! Hey, girl, how are you doing?

You said, "One tip I have is to also make sure your spine is eye-catching since that's often all a person will see when browsing in a bookstore!"

EXCELLENT POINT, and one I would have never thought of, but it's SO true!! An author has to do everything he or she can to catch a reader's eye, especially with the upsurge of indie books on the market making competition all the stiffer. And that's why it's also imperative to make sure your cover looks good in a thumbnail pic as well, so it pops on Amazon, B&N, CBD, etc.

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, CINDY ... 2:30 AM??? Hope the procedure went well, and I'm saying one RIGHT NOW for mama and you!!

You said, "I come across a description of the heroine/hero and if the cover depicts one, or both, I find myself checking it out as to whether the artist got it right."

LOL ... me too!! Which is one of the reasons I prefer reading a real book over an ebook, because I constantly look at the cover, especially when I'm reading a tense scene and want to burn the character's faces into the scene as well.

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

RUTHY ... I love the model for "Fatih" as well. Do you know that she actually contacted me? Turns out she is a lovely Irish-Catholic girl with an incredibly Irish name that I can't fully recall -- it was definitely "Mary," and maybe "McClanahan" or something with an "Mc" on it. She was delightful!!

Now ... if Collin would just contact me ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Jennifer Smith said...

Julie, this was so interesting--learning about the the behind-the-scenes process of cover design! I don't know anything about cover design--besides what you've enlightened us with here--but I completely agree that the cover of a book is SO important. I have to admit that I make judgements about a book based on its cover, and honestly, especially in self-publishing, when the cover is really cheesy, the book's usually not that great, either. (I know there are exceptions.)

Thanks for the tips! I will be pinning this post. :)

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, RUTHY ... I remember the "cabbage book" ... it made me hungry, both to read the book AND eat! ;)

Your covers have been wonderful, my friend, depicting everything a heartwarming Ruthy novel is -- faith, family, and fun with babies!!

Hugs,
Julie

Carolyn A said...

Great post that I'm saving for later. Thank you! It's so helpful to get an inside look at the process, and a reminder to 'go with your gut.'

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, DEE, you are SO right about the prettiest costume, girl!!

And it sounds as if you haven't read any of my books before, and if not, I encourage you to download for FREE book 1 in the Daughters of Boston series (A Passion Most Pure, which kicks off the story of a very passionate and close-knit Irish family). It won American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year and currently has 423 five-star reviews on Amazon, so I hope you will check it out. Here's the link if you do:

A PASSION MOST PURE

And if you don't have an e-reader, let me know, and I will give you the link for a free Kindle app that will allow you to read ebooks on your computer, Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Droid, okay?

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

JACKIE SAID: "I agree that book covers are important. If the cover isn't very good, I question how good the story is. It may not be fair, but that's how I feel."

You know what, Jackie -- I totally agree with you on that, so let's call it "common sense" rather than "unfair," okay?

LOL ... and don't be too "impressed" -- I'm pretty sure Revell rolls their eyes every time they get an email from that pushy broad in St. Louis ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

DEB H!!! It sure sounds like there are good things just over the horizon for you, my friend, so you go, girl!!

God bless you in Killer Voices AND in your new biz, which I have been praying for ever since you told me about it last year. Anxious to see you up and running, girlfriend!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

DEB H also said: "first the art, then the blurb. if you haven't caught me by then, you probably won't, something I'm keeping to the forefront of my mind as I write."

Smart girl!! Hopefully this post will prod others in that direction as well. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, CONNIE, you know what? I never thought of that regarding your comment about cover styles by publisher! Good observation, my friend! I can usually tell a Bethany House cover (at least in the historical romance category) because they usually have an element of fun about them and are always pretty eye-popping.

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, CONNIE ... waterworks are a pretty common occurrence in my household, unfortunately -- first me when something goes wrong, then my hubby when he has to fix it ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Angi said...

Good morning, Julie, and to all the Seeker ladies! Julie, great post! You're SO right. Covers really do make a difference. I can't tell you how many times I've been in a bookstore, searching a wall of books, only to have one special cover jump off the shelf at me. I'm glad that your publisher lets you have some say in your covers . I think it's important for you, as the author, to be able to be a part of that process. After all, you are the one who knows best what the characters look like. Anyway, I just wanted to say Good Morning to everyone. Hope you all have a blessed day! :)

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, JAN, a new cover -- HOW EXCITING!! Yes, pins and needles, for sure, but SUCH fun, too, so I can't wait to see the new one, girlfriend!! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SANDRA SAID: "We are so blessed now with graphic art and we can plop in the hero and heroine we want."

Oh, AMEN to that, my friend -- we are spoiled brats today, aren't we? ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Rebecca DeMarino said...

Great fun reading about your covers, Julie! With my debut novel almost out, I have to say I love what Revell did with mine! I had a similar reaction, though, to my baker hero's jacket: English Dandy!! My ocver artist changed it to a brown vest, and it made the cover perfect! I have always loved your books AND the covers - both so beautiful! - and have been so excited to be a part of your publishing family!

Elaine Manders said...

This is a keeper post for me. I'm such a perfectionist I know choosing a book cover will be a hair-tearing time for me.

Long time ago romance publishers didn't match cover models to characters. I remember finding out the heroine, pictured as a blonde, really had black hair. So annoying.

Is it taboo to show the h/h embracing on the cover of inspirational romance? It's rarely done. I'd like my cover, when I have one, show them embracing or touching kind of like Ruthy's or Sandra's.

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, DEB ... I love talking about covers too!!

Our Seeker guru, Miss Teena, put together Seekers Pinterest pages, for which I am MOST grateful since I know nothing about Pinterest -- yet. I do intend to dive in one of these days, however.

I don't think Pinterest works for you unless you work for it. For instance, I almost NEVER go there, so I don't add new things to it often and consequently, I don't have that many pins. But Laura Frantz swears by it, and has TONS of pins and friends on it, so I would check with her, Deb.

Here is the link to the Seekers Pinterest page:

SEEKERVILLE ON PINTEREST

And then here's mine:

JULIE LESSMAN ON PINTEREST

And then here's Laura's:

LAURA FRANTZ ON PINTEREST



Crystal Ridgway said...

Always love reading behind the scenes on covers! Julie, wonderful post!

I ALWAYS judge a book by its cover. If the cover intrests me, then I pick it up and read the first page. If that gets me, I'll read the jacket blurb. And if I find that interesting, I'll buy it.

I'm afraid that as an unpublished author, I don't have any tips to share regarding cover design, but I would love to be entered in the giveaway!

Julie Lessman said...

JEANNE T SAID: "And though I don't buy a book solely based on its cover, the appearance/first impression does play a factor in the decision of to purchase or not to purchase."

Ahhhh, Jeanne ... you're one of those wonderfully fair and kind readers who will give an author a chance to win or lose you beyond the cover -- I admire you! The only way I will do that is if somebody referred the book to me and I trust their opinion. So, see? You are FAR more fair and tolerant than moi. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Ap

Julie Lessman said...

JENNIFER SAID: I have to admit that I make judgements about a book based on its cover, and honestly, especially in self-publishing, when the cover is really cheesy, the book's usually not that great, either. (I know there are exceptions.)"

Well, Jenn, there didn't used to be many exceptions, but the new surge of indie publishers has changed all that. Now with professional cover designers like those listed in my post today, more and more indie covers are downright stunning, which does highlight even more the "cheesy" ones out there.

Thank you SO much for "pinning" this post -- I'm giving you an EXTRA point in the contest today for doing that, okay?

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CAROLYN, thank you for your comment, and "go for your gut" is VERY wise advice, especially with indie publishing, where your input is critical. Not everybody gets to give input with traditional publishing, which is unfortunate, but maybe indie publishing will help change that.

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

ANGI!!! Hey, girl, SO good to see you here, and you are SO right when you say, "After all, you are the one who knows best what the characters look like."

EXACTLY!! In A Passion Redeemed, Charity's womanly figure was an important part of the story that I actually incorporated into the book, so to see her unendowed on the cover really upset me.

And then on the cover for A Love Surrendered, Annie was supposed to be a young-looking 18, but the original model my publisher picked looked like she was pushing 40 to me, so I about lost it. Fortunately for me, my publisher is VERY accomodating when I have a valid point, which I SO appreciate.

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, BECKY, I am SOOO glad I'm not the only one who speaks up to the Revell artists!! Is Cheryl Van Andel your artist? She is one of my favorite people at Revell -- just LOVE that woman!!

And I gotta tell you that I am CHOMPING at the bit to read your book, so June cannot come soon enough for me!

Is it just me or does it seem like it's been FOREVER for your book to release??? I guess because I've been wanting to read it so badly. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Tina Radcliffe said...

Many a book has been turned down by me because of the cover. Call it Freudian but I cannot read a romance with a pregnant woman on the cover. Is that strange or what? Not crazy about kids on the cover either. Babies yes, however.

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, ELAINE! You said: "Long time ago romance publishers didn't match cover models to characters. I remember finding out the heroine, pictured as a blonde, really had black hair. So annoying.

VERY, VERY ANNOYING!! I just judged a book in the Ritas that I truly loved, but the cover did not match the story AT ALL!! It was a San Fran 1902 story about a businessman/banker who was posing as a bar owner in the Barbary Coast, and would you believe they had a COWBOY on the cover??? To this day, I swear they put the wrong cover on that book, which annoyed me to no end.

You asked: "Is it taboo to show the h/h embracing on the cover of inspirational romance? It's rarely done. I'd like my cover, when I have one, show them embracing or touching kind of like Ruthy's or Sandra's."

No, it's not taboo as far as I know, but I do know that in the Inspy traditional market, publishers shy away from showing both the hero and heroine on the cover. My first three books had both, but Revell quickly did away with showing the guy because it's just too difficult to get a guy that will match your reader's expectations.

BUT ... I did notice that one of the Seeker commenters above, Becky Demarino -- who has a book releasing with Revell in June -- has a cover with both hero and heroine on it, standing very close to each other, so you may want to check it out here:

REBECCA DEMARINO BLOG

HUGS!!
Julie

Myra Johnson said...

What a comprehensive lesson on cover design, Julie! I've been fortunate that the publishers I've worked with so far have either given me a great cover from the start or were willing to listen to my suggestions.

Abingdon has been especially open to my input. After the drop-dead gorgeous cover they gave me for When the Clouds Roll By, I knew the next two books in the series had to live up to that image. With the first cover mockup for Whisper Goodbye, "Mary" wore far more makeup than my character would wear, and she looked more like a WWII nurse than WWI. I found more sample photos of the look I wanted, plus WWI army nursing uniforms, and Abingdon ended up finding a much more appropriate model and doing a live shoot.

For book 3, Every Tear a Memory coming out in the fall, the original model was too neat and prim, when my heroine is a free spirit and an adventuress. They sent me several new images to choose from until we found the right one.

So I totally relate to the CDQ persona when it comes to book covers--which is one reason I opted to do my own for Pearl of Great Price. And . . . playing with PhotoShop is a fun break from writing!

Julie Lessman said...

CRYSTAL, thanks for your input as a reader, and you are now entered in the contest, so here's to a win, girlfriend!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

TINA SAID: "Call it Freudian but I cannot read a romance with a pregnant woman on the cover. Is that strange or what? Not crazy about kids on the cover either. Babies yes, however."

LOL ... not strange at all, at least to me! I have trouble with pregnant ladies on the covers of romances too, especially if they're not married to the hero, which is the case in a recent book I read for the Ritas. It had a incredibly sweet and wholesome pregnant lady on the cover with a good-looking guy eyeing her tenderly and the title was something like "One Night with the Professor" (not the real title), which basically read "one-night stand" to me, and it was. I can't stand when romance novels portray the romance as deep and loving when most of the time they start out with a romp in the hay. :\

Hugs,
Julie

Jennifer Smith said...

Thanks for the extra point, Julie. :)

Julie Lessman said...

YAY, MYRA ... another CDQ!! Who would have thought!! :)

SOOO glad I am not the only one, girlfriend, and I have to say that your covers are some of the nicest out in the market today. Abingdon has reallllly kicked up their game several notches, I've noticed, which is SO cool for its authors!

I'm reading Whisper Goodbye, desperately trying to figure out who the next heroine will be ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, JENN ... you are MORE than welcome, my friend, so thank YOU for taking the time to promo this blog.

And because of you, I went back and added extra options for points that include sharing on FB & Twitter, so double thanks!!

Hugs,
Julie

Mary Connealy said...

When you say horse biscuits....you're not really talking about BISCUITS at all are you?!

Julie Lessman said...

LOL ... no, Mary, I'm not talking about biscuits anymore than I would be talking patties. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Mary Connealy said...

Spent a lot of time looking at Fonts. I love that list. There's even a WESTERN SECTION!!!

None of them I loved were on my MS WORD but you can buy fonts, right?

Mary Connealy said...

Love your hero pictures.

Oh, yeah baby!

Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

I'm a book cover addict, so I loved the behind-the-scenes look at the process. Thanks for sharing! :) A cover artist I follow is at www.amygdaladesign.net. I love her use of colors and simplicity. :)

Ashley said...

Great post! I cannot tell you how many times I have noticed that the picture of the character on the cover does not match the character on the pages. I remember reading a Passion Most Pure and being impressed with how accurately the girl on the cover matched Faith.

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, MARE -- yeah, that font list by genre is realllly cool, isn't it?

And, yes, you can buy anything you want -- even fonts! ;)

I LOVE my hero pix and wish I had some for every book I've written, but at least my Pinterest board shows my celebrity montages for each of my books, which are SO much fun!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

ANNA, THANK YOU for the suggestion of Amy G. Dala Design -- her covers are very distinctive and attractive!!

2 points in the contest, my friend!! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Jana Vanderslice said...

Julie! Your book is also free for Nook & at CBD. Here are the links…

A PASSION MOST PURE (free download)

NOOK
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/passion-most-pure-julie-lessman/1100374739?ean=9781441200945

CBD.Com
http://www.christianbook.com/passion-most-pure-a-novel-ebook/julie-lessman/9781441200945/pd/6396EB?product_redirect=1&Ntt=6396EB&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

Julie Lessman said...

ASHLEY SAID: "Great post! I cannot tell you how many times I have noticed that the picture of the character on the cover does not match the character on the pages."

OH, AMEN to that, my friend -- drives me CRAZY!!

And thank you for your sweet comment about the cover for APMP. I totally agree that Faith was PERFECT!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

JANA, YOU SWEETHEART, YOU!!

I'm giving you an extra point in the contest for posting those extra links, my friend -- THANK YOU!!

Hugs,
Julie

Sharon Timmer said...

I would love to win & read A Passion Redeemed - I love that you showed the before & after covers on each of your books - keep doing what you are doing :)

Janet Merrell said...

This was the best blog Julie. I am not a writer, but it was so interesting learning the back story of the covers for the O'Connor family books. I still think of that family as real people! :)

Angelica McDonald said...

I love graphic designing and I'm really considering taking a major in that when I graduate. Covers of books really do matter because it is the main thing that grasps my attention when I'm at a book store. Another main point in the book is the back cover of the book as well. Yes, the graphics has to be amazing at the back, but the there also the author has to make the preview of the story alluring enough to make you want to buy the book.

Angelica McDonald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angelica McDonald said...

I also shared the post on Facebook as well :)

Angelica McDonald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jana Vanderslice said...

Although I’d rather have a real book to hold, I’m reading mostly e-books right now. Online thumbnail book covers have to catch my eye quickly! I wonder who has done research on that and actually compiled statistics of what sells best. (You know some Ph.D. candidate is out there pouring her heart out on a project like that!)

Also, I automatically zoom in on books in a series if the book covers are alike. If I like a book or an author, the visual repetition always makes me stop & look at the book description.

Please enter me into the drawing! And Thank You for spending your day with us! I Loved "A Passion Most Pure"! I'm actually reading it for a 2nd time right now!

CatMom said...

WOW, Julie!! Your post fascinated me--since I basically don't have a clue as to how covers are actually done, I soaked up all your helpful (and entertaining!) information. I'm definitely SAVING this one.

I've thought for a long time how much a book cover DOES affect the appeal of the book for me. For example, even though I think Debbie Macomber is a very talented author, I LOVE her sweet, charming covers. Seeing the houses, etc. on her books makes me want to actually "visit" that setting, and draws me in to purchase the book.

Thank you again for sharing all this today (and I giggle when you refer to yourself as a CDQ!!).
Please toss my name into your drawing! (and YES, I think all your book covers are awesome!)

Hugs, Patti Jo

Joelle Strandquist said...

I've always wondered how much say authors have in the cover design, (and I'm sure it must vary a lot). It must be hard to let go of something like that! I'm glad your covers have ultimately met with your approval, though! They look wonderful!

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, thanks, SHARON! And, gosh, I would LOVE to send you a signed copy of A Passion Redeemed, so GOOD LUCK in the draw!!

APR is my fave of the DOB series -- I guess because Charity and Mitch butt heads SO much, which is something I love in a romance. You know, like the old John Wayne/Maureen O'Hara movies like McClintock? Soooo fun!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LOL ... thanks, JANET ... I still think of them as "real people,"too, and family!! Which gets scary when I set extra places at the table ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Rogenna Brewer said...

I'm so impressed with your publisher for giving you input on your covers. Collaboration with the author is what a great cover is all about :)

Thanks for the shout out, Julie.

Rogenna

DebH said...

I'm blessed by the knowledge that you've kept me in your prayers Julie, I believe I've been feeling the results of them. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

as for the pet peeve of characters on covers not matching the story descriptions... oh, so on that soap box! I believe digital graphics is helping allieviate that snafu.

Julie Lessman said...

ANGELICA SAID: "Yes, the graphics has to be amazing at the back, but the there also the author has to make the preview of the story alluring enough to make you want to buy the book."

So very true, my friend, and THANK YOU for sharing this on FB!! I'm giving you 3 pts. in the contest -- one for your comment, a 2nd for your suggestion about a good preview, and then for FB share.

And GOOD LUCK to you in the graphic design industry, my friend. My hubby is a graphic designer (works at home) and absolutely LOVES it, so you go, girl!!

Hugs,
Julie

Lane Hill House said...

AH U know which one I want! A signed copy of A Hope Undaunted, please. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House
lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

You indeed can know a book by its cover ~ that's what I see first before reading the back cover for the storyline. Historical fiction is my very favorite genre. I appreciate how the author places the protagonists in the events/happenings of the times. So, I get it about the outside matching the inside ~ which we all should be. Blessings! Kathleen

Julie Lessman said...

WOW, JANA ... you're reading APMP for the 2nd time??? Talk about the ultimate compliment, my friend, THANK YOU!! With all the great books out there, when a reader friend rereads one of my books, that blesses the socks off of me!!

And SOOO true about those thumbnails, although I didn't realize that until I wrote this post, so I definitely learned lots too!

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, thanks, PATTI JO ... I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Covers always fascinate me, so it was fun to write.

I know what you mean about Debbie Macomber's covers -- I feel Ruthy's are that way, too, as well as Missy's and Glynna's in the contemporary realm, and Janet's in the historical. Maybe it's just a LI thing too, because they really know how to hit the hearth-and-home button, don't they?

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, JOELLE, and YES, it definitely is hard to let go of the control on covers, especially when you are a CDQ like me!! But as one of my characters said in my Heart of San Fran series, you gotta let go and let go because He does it SO much better than we do!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

ROGENNA, you are MORE than welcome, girl -- you deserve all the shout-outs and accolades you get because you are VERY, VERY good!!

Hugs,
Julie

S. Trietsch said...

I told my daughter this weekend that I do tend to judge books by their covers! I guess it's the first impression thing. The one thing I do love about a book is the rough cut pages found periodically that makes the book look aged!

Stephanie

Julie Lessman said...

DEB H, I totally agree that "digital graphics are helping allieviate that snafu," thank God!!

And you are SO welcome, my friend -- glad things are looking up!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

KATHLEEN ... say it ain't so!! You haven't managed to beg, borrow, or steal a copy of AHU yet??? Goodness, girl, I hope you like the book when you finally get it after waiting so long. It's my fave of everything I've written and a good one to shoot for, so here's to a win!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

STEPHANIE SAID: "The one thing I do love about a book is the rough cut pages found periodically that makes the book look aged!"

You know, Steph, I've never thought of that, but you're right. One of the books that always stands out in my memory is a medieval novel that had ragged edges on purpose. It was gorgeous and the edges lent a wonderful aged feel to the book. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Jon and Vicki Marney said...

A nice break in my writing to read your blog about cover design. I have been doing a lot of writing, thanks to Speedbo, and now Nanowrimo, and since Nanowrimo had a place for entering a book cover, I started thinking about this. I had also read another blog, reminding people to make sure you have permission to use the art. It would be horrible to come up with a great cover and then find out that your image was copyrighted and you could have a lawsuit on your hands. That is my tip--make sure if you are working o your own cover, that you have permission from the person who made the image as well as any models on it.(and I will sare this on FB too.

Vicki

Jon and Vicki Marney said...

I have been spurred on to keep writing more, by Speedbo and now Camp Nanowrimo. After winning a critique on Speedbo and finding out it had to be romance, I have now been switching gears and working on a romance. (I think of you Julie, every time I think romance...and your Romance 101 book).

Most of my novel takes place in one of my favorite places to be--Hawaii. I think I am going to need a special Hawaiian cover for this book.;-)

Question: I have a lot of pics from Hawaii, has anyone ever used a photo of their own when choosing a cover? Just thinking.

Vicki

Liza Bermudez said...

I don't know if I'm the only one who does this but once they describe the main characters in the books I ALWAYS go back and look to see if they are like the people on the cover... Having that picture of them in my mind really makes the story come to life... So I have to say I'm always really disappointed when they don't quite really match up.... So future writers out there I suggest you do what Julie Lessman did and give your input even if its not expect form you... Thanks Julie for giving your say on your covers you really always make the books come alive faster and easier that way...
-- Liza

Pam Hillman said...

Loved this, and could spend all day studying these wonderful covers, and playing with graphic design.

Sigh.

Must not get sucked in...

lol

Virginia said...

I love all your covers and your books...can not go wrong with a Julie book!!!!!! ever

Patricia said...

I find myself guilty of judging a book by it's cover and it has rarely disappointed me. I have several of yours books all have beautiful covers. I would love to read THE HEART OF SAN FRANCISCO SERIES.

Carol Garvin said...

Ah, coffee *and* cinnamon buns! Thanks, Marianne and Helen. Now my morning's off to a great start.

Thanks for a fascinating and informative post, Julie. I probably miss some good stories by passing up books with covers that don't draw me in, but I'm one who really does judge books by their covers. I did a couple posts on the topic, too, and interviewed a local (Canadian west coast) author and cover designer, Rachel Elizabeth Cole. Her business name is Littera Designs -- http://www.litteradesigns.com/

Patricia said...

I shared on Facebook and Twitter!

Anonymous said...

First they should enable us to log in with Facebook. ..*Jennifer Davis on your friends page Julie* Second, I firmly agree that covers have played a BIG role in my choice of books. Like yours and Tracie Petersons books that have little vinettes along the front, spine, and back covers are a big draw for me as I tend to look at the covers a lot when reading a book. I love finding little scenes from the covers that are portrayed in the book.

Debbie Rhoades said...

Oh, Julie, tis awesome to see you! Thank you for this article. I love your covers and I would treasure a book signed by you!

Salyna xD said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post Julie! I have seen posts about the process of your book covers but I always love reading about it again and again. I think the process to make book covers is fascinating. My sister has been talking to me about what I am going to do with my future and Art Design is something that I think I would be very interested in. I would love to go into something like that and then go into cover designs. As of now I have no further ideas of how to make book covers better, but I did share this post on Facebook. Thanks so much for this post Julie! Love you!

~Salyna

Missy Tippens said...

Loved seeing the different versions of your covers, Julie! Of course, I remember the emails with the tears as well. :) :)

Thanks for all the great tips, too! And the checklist.

Tanya Agler said...

Dear Julie,

Thank you for your post about covers. Being on unpubbed island, I love to hear about the decisions published (whether traditional, self-pubbed or hybrid) authors have to make regarding the best interests of their books.

As a reader who has purchased many books and am now buying more e-books (although I prefer paper-the smell, the feel, the crinkle), I know I might have different tips from other readers as we are all different. For paper books, I tend toward covers with animals or objects (houses, barns, lighthouses-something that indicates the setting).

Thank you for this post as I will now be looking at the cover process in a new light.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Cinnamon Roll Coffee!!!! Oh saints be praised, I'll take a cuppa with some French Vanilla creamer....

And I brought homemade Baker's Dark Chocolate Brownies to share....

With that cinnamon roll coffee, this is a little corner of heaven on earth, no doubt!!!!

Okay, so why is it that WOMEN look at skinny women and envy them....

And men look at curvy women and fall in love.

Why don't women accept their curves the way men do?

I think of this as I'm writing and as I'm doing cover things, that if you put a group of men in a room I bet NONE of them pick the stick thin model in the long sheath....

But the gal in a corset-shaped/styled dress will grab their attention.

(or the bikini, but that's a whole different blog) Cover designers and authors have to be aware of who they are targeting and aim the book that way.


The differences between appealing to the emotional side of women or the self-effacing side is always a mystery to me.

Natalie Monk said...

How fun!!!

I've wondered how much say authors have in cover choices with traditional publishing. It's a consolation that they do consider the author's input.

I guess it helps to have model photos picked out early?

Do you have any favorite modeling sites you use in your search?

Hmm... Those blonde curls have got my curiosity piqued. Tell us, tell us! ;) I'd guess Jude Law, but not sure what his hair looked like when Mitch's book was published.

Micaela Wood said...

Loved reading your cover design stories, Julie...all of your covers have turned out so beautiful! And thank you for the tips on cover design; I'm writing/self-publishing a non-fiction book this fall, and this post will come in handy when it comes to cover design! :)

~Micaela
www.micaela419.wordpress.com

Julie Lessman said...

YAY, VICKI ... you go, girl, with the writing -- you're doing WAY better than me, I can tell you that!

And GREAT tip about covers -- it just earned you an extra point for a total of 3 points in this giveaway, so GOOD LUCK!!

HUGS,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

VICKI ASKED: "I have a lot of pics from Hawaii, has anyone ever used a photo of their own when choosing a cover? Just thinking."

UH-OH, Vick ... good question, and I have a good answer for you! In my research for this blog, I did run across a tip that said AVOID using JUST scenery or landscape shots or personal photos because it ends up not looking like much or saying much. I'm not sure why I didn't put it in this blog, maybe because I was afraid of offending someone who I know has this kind of cover. :|

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, LIZA, and YES, I ALWAYS do the same thing!! I'm guessing I will look at the cover about once a chapter because fixing those faces in mind is important to me.

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, PAMMY ... good girl!! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, VIRGINIA, you're just prejudice, that's all! ;)

Seriously, thank you for your sweet comment and wonderful support!

Here's to a win, my friend. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Why, thank you, PATRICIA -- I appreciate the fact that you have several of my books -- good girl!!

Now ... we just need to see if we can get one of my new books in your hot, little hands, eh? Good luck!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CAROL SAID: "I probably miss some good stories by passing up books with covers that don't draw me in, but I'm one who really does judge books by their covers."

Oh, me too, Carol -- but it's okay because we never really know what we're missing, right? Uh ... unless people keep recommending the book, then, yes, I will give it a shot, cover or no!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

PATRICIA ... good girl ... 3 points, darlin', so GOOD LUCK!!

HUGS,
Julie

Heidi Robbins said...

I love seeing cover progressions and hearing why the choices were made. As an artist and visual person, covers are important to me. They can enhance or detract from the vibe of the book. I miss having book cover art with my kindle! Lately I've been turned off by historical books with very modern-looking models on the cover. It makes me doubt the authenticity of the book, however unfounded that perception is. I appreciate that your covers seem to accurately reflect the time period of the story! Please put me in for your giveaway! Thanks!

Julie Lessman said...

JENN ... blogger wouldn't let you sign in through FB? Well, that stinks. Sorry about that, but I love your comment that, "I love finding little scenes from the covers that are portrayed in the book."

Oh, me too, me too!! It always feels like you're getting something extra special when you spot a scene or a dress or an item that's important to the story right there on the front cover. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

DEB!!! SO fun to see you here, my friend, and I sure miss "seeing" you and other fave reader friends online, but I've been crazy busy getting ready to sell our house/move, so days go by in a blink. I'm looking forward to the fall when hopefully things slow down and the new book releases. :)

Hugs and more hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SALYNA!!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE seeing YOU here, my friend, so thanks for coming by AND for sharing on FB -- 2 pts., darlin', so GOOD LUCK!!

And OH MY, you would be SO good if your montages or any indication because they are absolutely excellent. You have such a knack for that, so I bet you would be dynamite with book covers!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LOL ... yeah, Missy, I remember the tears, too, and the sobs, and the moans and groans ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

TANYA SAID: "For paper books, I tend toward covers with animals or objects (houses, barns, lighthouses-something that indicates the setting)."

Oh, then you must LOVE the LI's, my friend. Seems I see a LOT of animals and setting covers with LI. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

RUTHY SAID: "Cover designers and authors have to be aware of who they are targeting and aim the book that way."

OH, sooooo true, Ruthy, excellent point!!

And BLESS YOU for the homemade Baker's Dark Chocolate Brownies to share.... TO DIE FOR!!

HUGS,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

NATALIE SAID: "I guess it helps to have model photos picked out early?"

Well, it certainly helps the art department when authors provide them with celebrity look-alikes for how the author sees her hero or heroine, so yes, it does help A LOT!!

LOL, Nat, I'm actually pretty surprised that you are the ONLY one who has tried to guess the celeb locks my hubby and I used on Mitch. Let's just say it was gentleman who won an Oscar this year ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, MICAELA, good for you, girl -- that is AWESOME!! What's the name of your book?

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

HEIDI SAID: "I miss having book cover art with my kindle!"

OH HEAR, HEAR, Heidi -- me too!! It's such a pain to look at a cover on a Kindle, whereas it's SO easy with an actual paperback.

You also said: "Lately I've been turned off by historical books with very modern-looking models on the cover. It makes me doubt the authenticity of the book, however unfounded that perception is. I appreciate that your covers seem to accurately reflect the time period of the story!"

LOL ... I'm smiling because I actually had a reader tell me last week that they wanted to read one of my books, but skipped over A Light in the Window because it looked too modern, so that certainly speaks to your point as well.

I actually don't like it when a historical heroine has an air-brushed modern makeup look with perfect eye shadow (did they even wear that in the 1800-early 1900s???), so I concur completely.

Hugs,
Julie

Debra E. Marvin said...

Yes Julie- I am always stealing from Laura's Pinterest pages and I suggest she go to Pinterest Anonymous! When it comes to historical costume, setting, quotes she has the best!

I know a bunch of us have been doing pinterest boards for each story and it makes a nice addition to a proposal because some editors love them as well.

Janet Dean said...

Julie, I loved this post and the fun walk down memory lane, as we did hear a bit about these covers at the time. :-) They're gorgeous and reveal your characters perfectly!

Thanks for sharing Seeker eBook covers, every one pretty and appealing to would be buyers.

I am going to remember this post and the wonderful information you gave for when I jump into the Indie waters.

Must compliment you on the first two books of your San Francisco series. Your attention to detail just brings the setting alive. Makes me want to return for another visit.

Janet

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Julie,

Great post! I love talking about and looking at covers! Yours are some of the best!

Thanks for the tips and the checklist.

Cheers,
Sue

Linda Marie Finn said...

Well well, my granddad use to say horse collars ! Jules are you talking about poo ? smiling ! First and formost you know I shared on my wall on fb and on my page for faithful acres books on fb. I have to say that my number one tip would be not to discount your own photos you have taken or the pictures you see online, of course if they are anyone elses you will need permission to use them for a cover but your own might work very well for a cover also. Thank you for the coffee Helen, I have a huge cake here that Faith made to share. I read on one sight not to use your own handdrawn images, but I would for illustrations if good ones. I being the artist I am love to draw , paint ect. I would highly recommend google fonts that is where my webmistress gets my fonts from. Well at any rate count me in , you just know I cannot go without trying to win another book of yours Jules, you know that is one goal I have for this year is to not only own them on my kindle fire but also to be able to hold each one in my hands and have them on my shelf. I have 3 going on that fourth one here above my desk smiling down on me. those covers all speak to me of what lies ahead in the story in a very large way, when covers stink I just can't usually buy the book.
Oh in Mary's world, those are cow pies or cow patties !!!! LOL
Did ya'll see the sweet little black angus calf I shared, I tagged you all, including aunt roofy !!!!
Much Love
Linda Marie Finn
Faithful Acres Books
www.faithfulacres.net
faithfulacresbooks@gmail.com

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Julie! What a great topic, since your covers are SO pretty, and SO accurate to what I think the characters look like. They also capture the era they take place in well (always important when writing historical fiction, no one want an anachronism to pop up!). LOVE the notation of enhancing Charity's (ahem) assets.

I TRY not to judge a book by its cover, but I'm not always succesful. Well-designed covers automatically catch your eye, which is what they are supposed to do. Everyone has unique taste, but generally, following the rules gets your book noticed.

As for tips, I only have two to add:

1)If the title of your book is a name, make sure that is clear. Nothing worse than thinking the book is called "Leo Tolstoy" by an author named Anna Karenina!

2) When writing a series, make sure the cover art is similar, yet distinct. Or, even if it's not a series, but the writing is similar, keep the art stylistically the same. I love Kate Morton's books, and all four have a similar style of art, even though their only relation to each other is a shared author. I always know it's one of her books when I see it at the bookstore! (Plus, they all look nice together on a shelf, all together!) I know when authors change publishers, this often can't be done, but it's nice if it can stay in the same vein.

Have a wonderful day, Julie!



Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

I have to add something else. When I went to ACFW a few years ago, I made up a one-sheet for my YA novel in a newsletter software. I have a distinct vision for what (I hope) the cover will look like someday, and I couldn't get my one sheet to capture that essence. I have a decorative plate that has the exact color scheme that I was thinking of. So, I snapped several photos of the plate, used the software to soften the pattern and blow it up a tad, and made it the background of my one sheet (covered over in text and a photo). It looked perfect! I had so many compliments on that sheet, and many people were surprised when I told them what I did. Now, at least I have tangible evidence of what I want that cover to resemble someday!

Cara Lynn James said...

Really interesting, Julie! APMP (do I have the initials of bk. 1 right?) is one of my all time favorite covers. I love seeing how it evolved from good to great.

Terri said...

Julie - interesting post. I always love your covers. No wonder considering the amount of work and prayer you put into them.

Jenny Blake said...

Im late but I shared on facebook, twitter, pin what ever its called, and google +

Covers dont sell a book for me but the can stop me wanting to find out more. I have to admit I won a book once with an awful cover but it was a top ten book for me that year.
Its something we need to work on in Australia.

On a totally different note. I am off to the city today tomorrow I am meeting Narelle Atkins for the first time.

may not get on seekers til Saturday cos the hotel internet for some reason blocks most blogger sites. the lap top is to heavy to take as I am only taking a backpack and a bag with my birthday album.

.Michelle Dennis Evans said...

Oh, I love the cover of The Rosetti Curse. If i don't know the author, i absolutely do judge a book by its cover . Xxx

Mary Connealy said...

just fyi, I don't judge a book by it's cover.
I judge first by author, second by genre, third by personal recommendations (aka word of mouth) fourth ... well, sometimes books fall into my hands. That's about it.
Sometimes I'll grab one free on an ebook format but if I like them I've been known to go buy the authors other work, so that seems like a decent business model to me.

Mary Connealy said...

...except when that business model results in a bunch of one star reviews on Amazon by people saying things like, "There's too much God in this book."

sigh

it was free, please try and remain calm.

Mary Hicks said...

I'm jumping in late! My day started several hours earlier than normal and I'm just now catching up!

Julie, loved the post! My next favorite thing to writing is collecting book covers—and titles. This was a fun and interesting read—I'm filing it to keep.

I especially love the old illustrated covers done by some of the great illustrators of the past.

Sherida Stewart said...

Thank you, Julie! I never would have thought about all those details for a cover. Very interesting. The subtle changes you show on your covers REALLY make a difference. Wow!

Sherida Stewart said...

I shared on Twitter! :)

Julie Lessman said...

DEB SAID: "When it comes to historical costume, setting, quotes she (Laura Frantz) has the best!"

Oh, NO KIDDING!! I just checked her page out today and was blown away by the mesmerizing quotes!! Gosh, talk about inspiring her readers and coaxing in new ones!!

I need to do that ... someday ... :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, Janet, thanks SO much for your incredibly sweet comment about books 1 & 2 of the Heart of San Fran series -- coming from a dear friend and respected peer means ALL the more! And if the setting is richer in this series, I need to give the credit to my wonderful editor, Lonnie, who was raised in San Fran, so I was kinda chewing my nails on that one, hoping I could do her hometown justice! :|

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, SUZI-Q, thank you, my friend, and I can't wait to see YOURS, you sweet thing!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LINDA!!! Hey, girl, I miss seeing you on FB, but I'm getting a whole lot more done these days, which is good since we're getting the house ready to sell and move to Lake of the Ozarks!!

LOL ... yes, I did mean "poo," but I thought that was a cute (and old-fashioned) way to say it.

Yes, I did see the cute, little angus on one of my rare trips to FB today -- ADORABLE!!

Thanks for the cake (LOVE CAKE!!) and the tips -- you now have 2 points, you sweet thing, so here's to adding another book to your shelf! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

STEPH SAID: "If the title of your book is a name, make sure that is clear. Nothing worse than thinking the book is called "Leo Tolstoy" by an author named Anna Karenina!"

LOL ... never thought of that!! ;)

And thanks for the sweet comment, girl -- you always put a smile on my face! :)

I checked out Kate Morton's covers, and you're right -- very consistent! :)

And, WOW, Steph -- you're a genius regarding that one-sheet!! And it will certainly come in handy when you do need to give ideas to your publisher, WHICH will be sooner than later, God willing ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, CARA ... yep, you got it right, girl, and it's my favorite cover of all my covers, too, so thank you! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, TERRI, thank you for that sweet comment! And, goodness, none of us Inspy authors dare write a book or design a cover without His input, eh?

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

JENNY!!! You have 5 pts. in this giveaway, girl, the highest of anyone, so GOOD FOR YOU!!

And LUCKY YOU, too, getting to meet Narelle! Give her a hug for me, okay? And keep one for yourself.

Have fun!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, MICHELLE ... me too!! It's one of my favorites of Tina's covers, although they are ALL awesome.

Good luck in the contest!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MARY SAID: ""There's too much God in this book." sigh. It was free, please try and remain calm.

LOL ... SOOOO freakin' true!! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MARY HICKS SAID: "My next favorite thing to writing is collecting book covers—and titles.
I especially love the old illustrated covers done by some of the great illustrators of the past."

What a lovely idea, Mary, but do you mean you collect the books of authors you like, especially the great illustrators of the past? If so, VERY cool hobby!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Yeah, SHERIDA, those little details really DO make a difference, don't they?? Now you see why I'm such a pushy CDQ! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, SHERIDA ... thank you, sweetie ... you now have 2 points in the contest, so GOOD LUCK! :)

HUGS,
JULIE

Audra Harders said...

Oh my, Julie! What a post! I loved it!

Covers are so important. Great job pointing out the little details that make a good cover-great. Taking colors, fonts, placement of models into consideration...crazy what we do for the public's enjoyment and they never realize it.

Especially considering the subtle differences in your covers made a world of difference. I glad you fought for the look you'd envisioned. All three covers are much better in their final product. You have such an eye for bringing your imagination to life. Of course it helps when your hubby is talented enough to decipher your brain-children and turn them into real character art!

I'm printing out this post for sure!!

Audra Harders said...

BTW, I loved the covers designed by the Killion Group and Sandra's development crew : )

Myra is a brave fish who made a grand splash in the pond of indie publishing by designing her own cover. I'm in awe!!

Of course I love the covers designed by Rogenna Brewer!!! She's so artistic and creative. She's a real blessing!

Lane Hill House said...

Hi Julie, I do have AHU on Kindle for PC but prefer being a print reader ~ like to turn those pages myself and not screen turning. Hope I win!!! Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House
lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

Starlight Starbright said...

I love all of your book covers Julie and your books :)

What I tend to do when I am buying a book is find a book by an author whose books I have previously read (and I know is a good author). I usually just pick books at the library that look good and read them. If I love reading the book, I buy it for myself (so that I can read it over and over :P).

A tip for designing a book cover: When you have come up with a design, show it to friends, family and co-workers/classmates and ask what they think of it. If you get a range of different opinions from different people, you will better be able to develop and make your cover better(what technology students at my school call using stakeholder feedback :D ).

The post was interesting to read and thank you for this opportunity Julie :) From Shannon :)

Starlight Starbright said...

I also wanted to say that I can see why you wanted to change your first few book covers haha. They are stunning! :)

bonton said...

Oh, Julie, I just loved this post!! What helpful tips!!

I love book covers and your books have some beautiful covers!! Book covers always entice me to learn more about an unknown book.

I loved hearing the stories behind the covers - so thankful you were allowed so much input (it MADE the covers), and loved that you and your prayer partners prayed over the covers!! Of course, I'm not surprised as I know every detail and word in your books is prayed over - from beginning to end!! Another reason why they are so wonderfully inspirational - I love them SO much!! Love you too, my sweet friend!!

I shared your post on Facebook!!

bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

bonton said...

P.S. I love the picture of you - it is so YOU!!

bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

Julie Lessman said...

AUDRA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OH MY GOSH ... I CANNOT BELIEVE I FORGOT TO INCLUDE YOUR COVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I feel absolutely AWFUL, my friend. The only excuse I can give is that I am operating on half a brain due to the impending house sale/move, so PLEASE forgive me!!

I have rectified the situation and included it, and there will still be some traffic here, I hope. :|

Love you!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

So, KATHLEEN ... does that mean you have or haven't yet read AHU???

If you have, I'm hoping you liked it or you wouldn't want the paperback, right???

Hugs and good luck!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SHANNON ... I just LOVE your addy -- Starlight, Starbright!!! I always want to break out in song with the nursery rhyme, you know?:)

Thanks for the tip, you sweet thing, and you now have 2 points in the giveaway, so GOOD LUCK!!

HUGS,
Julie

Mark Abel said...

Thanks for your great post it was very helpful and encouraging. I have always heard the author has to relinquish control of the cover so it was eye opening to see your process in pushing for your cover vision.

Questions:
Does the artist typically read the story prior to doing the artwork, and is it reasonable to ask for them to do that?

Also, my sister is a talented and successful fine artist with a graphic arts background. I have been thinking her painting style would be perfect for my story. I understand it could open a can of worms if I don't like the results but would plan to give her several exhibit examples along with a description of what I'm wanting. Additionally I would want her to read the story ahead of doing preliminaries. Is it reasonable to ask a publisher to at least consider looking at something generated outside of their art department or approved cover contacts?

Thanks again, great post. Liked your example covers and relationship to colors etc.

Julie Lessman said...

BONNIE!!! Oh, girl, you have been on my mind (and in my prayers) all day long, and as soon as I finish with comments here, I am going to reply to your email, so THANK YOU for updating me on your siutation.

Thanks for sharing this post on FB, my friend -- 2 points in the giveaway!!

And the picture is SO me, isn't it?? I just couldn't resist when I found AHU in Sam's Club when it released!!!

Love you!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, MARK, GREAT QUESTIONS!!!

You know what? I'm ashamed to admit that I don't know if the artist reads the book or not, but I would say not. I just never asked because honestly, it was a little embarrassing for me to say, "hey, Cheryl ... did you read the book, and if you did ... uh, did you like it??"

But at my publisher, Revell, there are SOOO many authors and SOOO few artists, that I seriously doubt they would have time to read the books ahead of time. And it's probably not even necessary because Revell requires its authors to fill out a very detailed "Titling/Positioning Questionnaire" that asks for celebrity lookalikes for your hero and heroine, personality traits for them, title suggestions, pics for the location, cover suggestions (including samples of other authors' covers that I suggest for this book), etc.

As far as your sister's art is concerned, it would surely depend on the publisher, but most would not be receptive to using a cover designed by your sister. I know this for a fact since my hubby is an artist and has not only designed my indie cover for A Light in the Window, but he has revamped several of my Revell covers in order to show Revell what I think needed to be improved. Even though my artist was wonderful and very kind when I suggested things Keith did to the covers, they could not use my hubby's version, but had to rework their version to match his more closely.

However, one thing you could do is have your sister draft a cover that you like, then send it to the publisher as a suggestion of a style you are looking for. It's my opinion that it doesn't hurt to ask (i.e. you have not because you ask not), so I tend to ask a lot. :)

BUT ... with indie publishing so wildly popular these days, if you do decide to go that route, you could certainly have your sister design the cover like my hubby did for my indie book. :)

Hope I've answered your question, Mark, and thanks for coming by to comment. Are you new in Seekerville? If so, WELCOME ... you will love it here and learn a lot, too, because we all do! And we have several great guy Seeker friends already, so I hope you join the club.

Hugs!
Julie

Mark Abel said...

Hi Julie,

Thanks for taking the time to respond that was nice. And yes, I am new to Seekerville and learning a lot from the blog posts. I'm a new writer and have lots to learn so the wisdom and experience from contributors to Seekerville is great. Thanks also for the hug, I like hugs :)

Edwina said...

Julie,
What a great post - informative! I am definitely a "judge a book by the cover" kinda gal. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Lori said...

I am so happy to have found your blog! I LOVE all these covers. When I'm looking for a book to read, I do judge a book by its cover as well as the blurb on the back. Your covers are gorgeous. I've never read your books seeing that I've just discovered you, but I plan on purchasing some. I'm a writer as well, still unpublished, but still dreaming of the day that I can assist with my debut book cover!

God's wink said...

I have to agree with Julie most people do judge a book by the cover. I can say for myself, That when looking at A passion Most Pure for the first time the hero of the story on the cover grabbed my attention . Looking at all the covers I think Julie made some very wise choices. I want to know that the characters I'm reading about are attractive especially the men

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, MARK, my pleasure!! We LOVE to help each other on Seekerville, which is a blog devoted to teaching, inspiring, informing, and encouraging others on the road to publication and beyond. When we started, only one of the 13 of us had a contract, now all 13 are multi-published, so Seekerville is a good place to share and learn what works for in the process. :)

The more you engage in comments on this blog, the more friends and contacts you will make, which is a total blessing in this biz.

Thanks again for coming by and God bless you in your ministry to write for HIM!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, EDWINA ... ALWAYS love seeing your name pop up, girlfriend! Hope all is going well in your world and good luck in the giveaway!

Hugs,
Julie

Heather Day Gilbert said...

WHAT a fun post and I'm going to share it all over the place. I LOVE seeing before/afters (as an indie, these are the kinds of calls I have to make w/my cover designer/brother). I'm guessing the blond rumply hair for your guy was...um...Matthew McConnehey's (can't spell that last name). I LOVE how you have a guy and a girl on these covers. BEAUTIFUL and the finished results are smashing. Thanks for sharing all the insider info today, Julie!

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, LORI, we are SOOO excited to have you here, my friend -- like I told Mark above, "we LOVE to help each other on Seekerville, which is a blog devoted to teaching, inspiring, informing, and encouraging others on the road to publication and beyond. When we started, only one of the 13 of us had a contract, now all 13 are multi-published, so Seekerville is a good place to share and learn what works in the process. :)

AND The more you engage in comments on this blog, the more friends and contacts you will make, which is a total blessing in this biz.

Lori, I SO appreciate you wanting to check out my books, but GUESS WHAT? You don't have to spend a dime to do so right now because the book mentioned above (which is the 1st in my Irish family saga), A Passion Most Pure, is currently available for FREE DOWNLOAD everywhere. I'm happy to say it won American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year and currently has 424 five-star reviews on Amazon, so I hope you will check it out. Here's the link if you do:

A PASSION MOST PURE

If you don't have an e-reader, let me know, and I will give you the link for a free Kindle app that will allow you to read ebooks on your computer, Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Droid, okay?

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

GOD'S WINK SAID: "I can say for myself, that when looking at A passion Most Pure for the first time the hero of the story on the cover grabbed my attention."

LOL, girl, mine too! ;) And fortunately for me, tons of other boy-crazy gals like you and me, so YAY!!! :)

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your addy, girlfriend -- God's Wink -- soooooo cute!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

HEATHER ... BINGO!! ;)

You nailed old Matthew, and would you believe you're the only one who guessed it?? Good eye and brain, girlfriend!!

And, WOW, thank you SO much for sharing this blog, my friend -- I am giving you two extra points in the contest for a total of three, so you go, girl!

I really appreciate you coming by, Heather, and have a great rest of the week!

Hugs,
Julie

Carrie Turansky said...

Hi Julie, these are great tips! I've put out two self-published books, and used the same cover designer for those. Her name is Ellen Cranstoun. She great to work with and very reasonable. The titles of my books are Surrendered Hearts and Where Two Hearts Meet. That last one is the new one…it has a very romantic spring cover. : )

Julie Lessman said...

CARRIE!!! Sooo good to see you here, my sweet friend, and WOW, I LOVE the new cover!!! Thank you for telling us about Ellen Cranstoun -- another great option out there for us indie and hybrid authors. :)

Hope things are going well for you, girl, and you're selling up a storm. :)

Hugs,
Julie