Thursday, October 28, 2010

Guest author Maria Zannini discusses cover art

Today's special guest is Maria Zannini, author of True Believers, a science fiction romance. Maria, thank you so much for visiting and sharing your book cover experiences.

Cover Art Confidential

If you want to stab an art director through the heart, take away her privilege of calling the shots. I was an artist and art director for more than thirty years. It's hard to let go and allow someone else to design your work.

If you've never had a cover designed for you before, let me put your mind at rest. They'll pretty much ignore your ideas.  It's not personal—just business.

Let's take True Believers for example.

• I asked for a warm color palette for the cover. They went with fire engine hot.

• I asked for an elaborate font. Since the main character, Rachel is an archeologist, I thought something like carved stone would work well. After a little negotiating (read: begging) I got the font "Traditional Arabic". It was definitely better than the first choice.

• I asked for the heroine to be young with exotic Middle Eastern features. After all, her father is none other than Gilgamesh, formerly of Sumer.  

…well, she's dark-haired anyway. :grin:

After the kerfuffle Bloomsbury caused using a white model for LIAR, a novel that demanded a young black woman, I think publishers are becoming more mindful about casting a little closer to the true race of a character.

But in this business, it's all a matter of degrees. Go too far in the wrong direction and you can create an incident of viral proportions.

After the incident with Bloomsbury ended up with egg on its face. Yet all the publicity was a boon to the author by virtue of grassroots movement. So even bad covers can work in your favor if you've got an angle.

I can't complain. Carina did all right by True Believers. It's not the cover I would have designed, but judging by the response, it's a cover that drives attention. And in the publishing business that's all that matters.

Authors: Have you liked all your covers? Are there any you would have designed differently?

Readers: Do you expect a cover to tell you what's inside or are you content simply with the tone the art represents?


Maria Zannini's latest release is a science fiction romance called TRUE BELIEVERS.

Mix one cynical immortal and one true believer and throw them into the biggest alien-hunt the world has never known. Rachel Cruz is a Nephilim masquerading as an archeologist and she's stuck with an alien who believes she can lead him to his ancestral gods. Black Ops wants to find these gods too. They want them dead. 

Follow Maria here:

Contest time! Every time you leave a comment, tweet or mention "Maria Zannini" anywhere with a link to my blog, your name goes in the hat for a chance to win a Texas sized prize. Go here for more information.


Maria Zannini said...

Thanks for letting me hang at your place today, Cheryl!

Dru said...

I'm a visual person so the cover is definitely going to grab my attention and the cover should also represents what is inside those pages.

If you haven't read "True Believers" yet, you are in for a treat. Go ahead, what are you waiting for? Head over to Carina Press and pick up this book.

Joanne said...

I've always felt the cover should communicate the essence of the story, maybe more so than the story itself. Or be one image from the story that says much. One thing's for sure, a well done cover will get me to pick up the book from the shelf, so I can understand the thought that goes into them.

Angelina Rain said...

As a reader, the cover is very important to me. Although I try not to judge a book be its cover, it has to draw my attention in order for me to notice it.

As a writer, I can’t imagine someone else designing my cover. I wish they would just let me do it. I’m good with graphics and such.

Mike Keyton said...

Cover, title, back-cover blurb and first page is the normal sequence for me. Then, before paying - I hate paying - page 72 - or thereabouts and back to the front cover again. Now that's spec purchase of course. More serious purchases, I've normally made my mind up before then and the cover is immaterial.

I agree, Maria, I had a mental picture of Rachel different from the woman on the front. But she seems to be enjoying things: )

Maria Zannini said...

Dru: Thank you! I have to admit it's the cover that makes me open the book in the first place.

I'm glad you liked True Believers. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Joanne: Absolutely! If a publisher at least attempts to show the essence of the story, I won't crucify them for stretching the point.

Though in the case of LIAR, they went too far.

Maria Zannini said...

Ref: As a writer, I can’t imagine someone else designing my cover. I wish they would just let me do it.

There is the risk that as writers we are too close to the story. I am just as likely to focus on something less critical because it has a special meaning to me rather than focusing on something the reader would more likely appreciate.

But...there is still enough of a control freak in me to want to try.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: I expected Rachel to be much younger, being a near immortal who can regenerate, I suspect she would keep a much more youthful appearance.

But I'm not disappointed, not as long as readers like it.

Jaime Wright said...

I have been known to buy books simply because of the cover. But then I get very disappointed when the cover does not reflect the characters or the story. so, yes, cover is extremely important to me as a reader!

Jackie said...

Cover catches my eye like everyone else for sure, however the book better have a well thought out and very clear synopsis on the back cover for me to read and get a grasp of the story or no matter how pretty that cover is the book will not come home with me!

Now of course that True Believers has released it catches the readers eye first with that "fire engine red" for sure!

jackie >_<

Marianne Arkins said...

I really, really dislike my cover of "One Love for Liv". We originally had this GREAT funny one, but the publisher shot it down. So, blech. I've had more than one person ask me if it's a M/M book. *sigh*

You're right, really. For the most part, I think they ignore everything we ask for. But, I suppose they know what sells better than we do!

Maria Zannini said...

Jaime: I have to admit that good covers are surefire ways to get me to pick up a book.

And MANY times, if the book has a great cover I will try to convince myself to buy it even if the beginning sounds dull.

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Jackie!

I must admit the artist did all right by True Believers, even if it wasn't what I would have designed. I'm afraid I'm just too close to the book to be impartial.

Maria Zannini said...

Marianne: Now I am hugely curious why they didn't go with the funny one.

How odd.

Meghan S. said...

Covers and titles both have a big influence on me when I'm at the bookstore. But if I read the back blurb or a snippet and I'm not interested in the story, I certainly won't buy the book just for its pretty cover. The opposite is also true - if a blurb or something I've heard/read online about a book piques my interest, I don't care what the cover looks like, I'm getting that book.

P.S. I think the cover of "True Believers" is very inticing!

Maria Zannini said...

Thanks, Meghan. :)

I have to say it does take a little bit more urging if the cover is "ugly". I know--it sounds shallow, but there you are. :grin:

Tia said...

My first thought when seeing the cover for THE SEVENFOLD SPELL is: it's nothing like what I expected. My second thought? But, it's beautiful.

For me, they obeyed most of my wishes and came up with something that was completely unlike what I envisioned. I asked for the spinning wheel. I asked for a melancholy mood. I asked for subtle magic effects (no sparkles!). They came up with the book, the girl (who is way too pretty), the spool/bobbin and the astronomical objects.

Many, many reviewers took the time to mention the cover and how it influenced their buying decision. I think the artist deserves an award.

For SFR, there really is an expected type of cover, kind of like urban fantasy. I think the artist had more freedom with my book because it didn't fit neatly into a genre.

Maria Zannini said...

Tia: I love your cover! It's so atmospheric. You could feel the layers. I think your artist did a great job!

Cheryl Tardif said...

Thank you all for dropping by and cheering Maria on during her blog tour.

Maria, all the best in success to you!!


Maria Zannini said...

Cheryl: Thanks for hosting me!