My new Decorah Security novella, Destination Wedding, has one of my favorite covers. It’s striking, sexy, evocative—perfect for the story about an heiress, Camille Norland, who’s kidnapped by a Russian mobster and taken to his private Caribbean island where he plans to marry her against her will. Nick Cassidy is desperate to rescue her, and he’s able to sneak onto the island and mingle with the wedding guests as he waits for the right moment to spirit Camille away. Once the story was finished, I started thinking about the cover.
There are lots of good things about indie publishing. For starters, you can write the book you want, making it whatever length works best for the story. And you don’t have to fight an editor to get the perfect title.
Then there’s the first thing the prospective reader will see—the cover. I thought that when I started indie publishing, it would be a snap to get illustrations I loved—rather than the hit or miss offerings my publishers—dare I say—slapped on my books. To be fair, some were really great. I will forever love the cover of my Harlequin Intrigue, More than a Man. Others made me want to weep or scream when the characters looked nothing like my hero and heroine, and the scene might as well have come from outer space as the manuscript I’d provided.
But I quickly discovered that getting it exactly right isn’t all that easy, and Destination Wedding is a nice example of what it takes. I wish I could do my own covers, but I don’t have the time to learn Photoshop and get good at using it. Instead I’ve relied heavily on Su at Earthly Charms. I like her because she listens to my concepts. Then she might steer me in a better direction when she knows what I’m thinking won’t work the way I expect.
I’ve come to the conclusion that a couple embracing is often the right way to go with romantic suspense. Or a sexy guy alone can work. But I’ve found that I can’t have only one idea in my head because it might not be possible with the photos available.
Because Destination Wedding takes place on a tropical island, I thought about using a beach setting—or possibly a jungle. However, background is the easy part. The hard part is coming up with a great looking guy or couple who fits your story. And finding him/them usually means looking at screen after screen of sexy men. (Admittedly a lot more fun than actually sitting and writing.)
I found a guy who was almost perfect for the Destination Wedding cover. He’s wearing a tuxedo shirt unbuttoned and standing a beach. He’s got a great body. But I didn’t like the wise-ass expression on his face. Which led me to ask Su, “Can we cut off the top of his head?” She sent me back a version with his brains missing, but I thought she’d gone a little too far, so she adjusted the cut to show his sensual mouth. After we took care of the face problem, I needed to find a woman who worked for the would-be bride in the story. That sent me back to the stock- photo sites, this time looking for a long-haired blond in a wedding dress. I sent Su several candidates, and she made the final choice. Luckily there was no problem about the two of them touching. As you can see, she’s standing in the background, looking out to sea, praying he’ll show up and rescue her before the wedding night.
Often my covers need a separate background. In this case, the shot of the guy on the beach cut out that step. Su put the picture together and added my name and the book title. Now if you’ll just send me URLs of great-looking guys or hot but tasteful couples embracing, the next job will be even easier.
What attracts you to a book cover? Do you want to see an embracing couple? Is a hot guy alone as good?