Monday, June 4, 2012

Character Match vs. Cover Art


I am a firm believer that a good, well done cover can help sell a book. When I first started out as a self published author, I wasn't as adamant as I am now. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to have two of my covers redone. . .
While it would be almost impossible for the average writer to be able to afford the luxury of being able to have their characters match a cover model to a fault, it can be obtained.
I like to have my covers done prior to the story even being finished. Why? It gives me inspiration to write, and makes the character(s) seem more real.  While I don’t go after, say eye color to match the cover vs. character, the physical attributes, such as physical build can be obtained. But sometimes you have to “cheat” a little to achieve the end result.
I’ll use “Timeless Sojourn” as an example. In my mind’s eye I envisioned the main male character, Geoffrey with dark hair, physically well built and (of course) handsome. He was the easy part. The difficult part was when it came to finding my main female character, Anne. Anne posed a problem. She was quite a bit older than Geoffrey, so finding an image with a older female proved challenging. I could have used two entirely separate images and had them blended so they appeared to be together, and I didn’t want to use, although I could have, a female that was real young. Sure a lot of people probably would have never noticed that on the cover. But I would have. I spent hours peering over an endless collection of images until I came across the one that is now on the cover. The female model’s face is partially obscured by her hair, which made her intriguing and helped cover up the age factor. She’s not as old as what  I envisioned in my mind’s eye, but she is the best fit. The cover is my favorite out of all my books; the image of the couple captures the very essence of what true love is all about.

Now on to personality. . .I believe you can tell a lot about the personalities the images on a cover portray not only by the way they pose, but by facial expression and lighting.  I like the images for my male characters to be somewhat older and mature. Definitely not twenty something. The same goes for the female. If I didn’t use this criteria, the covers would never match the story inside that cover. Lighting, used correctly will enhance the image, thus helping the reader easily imagine and envision what the image portrays. Facial expression can be tricky, but it is easy to weed out the truly professional models from the newbies or the wannabes.  The better images come from models who know what they’re doing and what they are suppose to be portraying for the camera. Finding a couple to use is not always an easy task either to find that one perfect image with the pair in sync with the other.
Where do I find my cover artists and images?
I used to surf the internet or rely on recommendations from good meaning friends. I was introduced to Jimmy Thomas and his huge array of images. That took care of that problem. Jimmy is a huge resource and he recommended a couple of cover artists. Now, he's taken that one step further. He has launched Romance Novel Center, where anyone affiliated in the romance novel industry can meet and network. I've met all sorts of great people there, from cover artists, to book reviewers to readers.   A trip to his website is well worth the time you save having to surf the web. You can find Romance Novel Center at:
http://www.romancenovelcenter.com/
Again, it all boils down to the writer. Some writers do not devote or put much thought and effort into their covers. Others, like me do.  The cover is after all a reflection on me after all as a writer.

9 comments:

  1. Hi Jamie, we try to match our characters on the cover as close as to our description of them in the story. With our book Rainie's Lake, I found Rainie's image first for the cover. We even used her white turtleneck in the story when Dylan was painting her. Now I always knew what Dylan looked like in my mind but couldn't find an image to match, and finally did before we featured a character interview. Like you, I like to have our cover completed before we finish the story. Seems to get the creative juices to flow because you have your cover and the story completes it now!
    Now on Jimmy Thomas! I love his images and recently became a member of his site. I found an awesome image of Jimmy and a female that matches the female character in our upcoming Scarlett's Cowboy. The prices are reasonable too!
    The cover for Timeless Sojourn is very nice. I can see the age difference. Oh, I would have noticed a young female on the cover and then while reading, find out she is older; I would have looked at the cover again! LOL I once saw a good cover - female with black hair, cover design well done, but when I read the synopsis, the female character is described with blonde hair. WTF?
    Have great week! ~Brenda

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  2. Thanks Brenda! Where did you read a synopsis where the female character is described with blonde hair? Interesting because I don't recall having this detail put out there! LOL!

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  3. Jamie, not one of your books. This was on a blog I landed on one day while surfing. I should have mentioned this. Sorry!

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  4. LOL!! Whew! Had me worried there for a second!!

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  5. Jamie - you and I agree on a lot about our covers and who's on them. With my latest book, Sparks, I wanted the hero's (handsome) face more visable than the heroine's face. In fact, if you look at my cover, the girl's face is hardly seen at all. Like you, I discovered the Jimmy Thomas site and the moment I saw the particular photo, I knew it would be perfect.

    In regard to personalities, I believe how the couple are posed is what makes their character shine through. I've never cared for covers that show more scenery than people. Unless the book is about the Grand Canyon or Niagra Falls, the cover should focus more on the hero and heroine. Great post, Jamie!

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    1. Thanks Sharon! Yes, I agree unless the book is actually about a place like the Grand Canyon, the cover should focus on the hero and heroine.

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  6. Love this cover. Great post. I've also found it disconcerting when the characters in the book don't match the cover. I appreciate the time and effort put in to match cover to story.

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    1. Thanks Laurel. . .I actually re-did two of my covers for that exact reason. They didn't match or you'd have to have the "inside scoop" as to what that particular cover was about.

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  7. Awesome post, Jamie! I so agree about getting the right image for a book cover. When I am designing covers that's usually what takes the most time is trying to find that perfect pose, the perfect expression. Jimmy makes it so much easier to find those perfect photos. He has so many different looks that work for so many different genres. He's amazing!

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