I’ve seen a few posts on this subject as of late and thought since the fourth book in my The Ferryman & The Flame series is hitting the shelves in a few days, that I’d write a post about the evolution of my covers and the thought process behind each of them. These are in chronological order, since if you can believe it, I released SURRENDER in October of 2011!
Covers by Parajunkee Design
Rachel and I had a plan, use the models from the fandom photo shoots and make something epic and pretty. I loved both of these covers so much. You’ll notice that my publisher at the time, Coscom Entertainment, preferred the three word titles as opposed to single words. You’ll notice that in publishing, some publishers prefer certain things when it comes to titles. Always, always be prepared to workshop your titles when you publish.
These covers served me well, they were stunning, creative, dark and they captured the essence of the story. Unfortunately, sometimes authors end up having issues with rights and soon, the two models on these covers began dating, had a messy break up, and revoked the rights they had given me to use them on my covers.
Cover by Marc Wolfe and Ash De La Rosa
I tried something new. I went to an artist friend of mine, and asked him to make me his version of my main characters. I liked one of the pieces so much I tried to use it as a cover for a short period of time. At this time I had also revoked the rights from Coscom Entertainment and was self publishing the work on my own.
Marc Wolfe did a fantastic job of capturing Kaliel, but the art was difficult to work with, without the title blending in too much with the cover. I also tried a newer cover designer who did her best to make the cover look like a real book cover. Needless to say this is unfortunately my least favorite attempt at a SURRENDER cover.
Cover Designer: Regina Wamba, Mae I Design, Emma Michaels
After stalking Regina online for months, I decided to talk to her. She was fantastic, suggesting that we take my existing covers and start from scratch. I helped with the stock photo hunt since we had a hard deadline, and we came up with something aesthetically pleasing. At this time I was also working with Linn Borscheim on adding interior art to the books because I didn’t like self publishing without offering something more in the books. So I was getting maps, interior art, and creating a guide for readers. Regina finished some of the most amazing covers for me over the course of the next few months, enough to cover the whole series.
You may have noticed that Parajunkee only did Surrender and Justice, because nobody had ever gotten further into the series than that. Regina was the first to do covers for all the books in the series.
Other than VILLAINS, Regina was the mastermind behind these epic covers, which really defined my books and set the stage for SURRENDER selling over 100,000 copies and making me a national bestseller in Canada!
Emma Michaels made the fantastic VILLAINS cover you see in the middle of this collage, but this was after she had created five novella covers for me. The novellas tied into the series, but I wasn’t sure how to handle them. Because they weren’t paperbacks I wanted to release them as ebooks, so people could pick them up individually between the other books.
When I was picked up by WordFire Press however, we wanted to make an omnibus of the novellas, so we created VILLAINS and put all five of the stores into it with their respective covers.
Here are the five novella covers Emma Michaels made for me
Emma is the designer I like working with the most. Sure, I’ve worked with a few others, but Emma and I were fast friends and the fact that she shared my vision for the books always helped. I always breathed a sigh of relief when I needed a cover and I could work with Emma on it.
Cover Design – Emma Michaels
Cover Art – Galia and Kitty
That being said, even though these covers were gorgeous, when it came to releasing MERCY (aka my favorite book of all time) I was conflicted about the covers. Regina’s and Emma’s earlier covers were fantastic, but the use of stock images bothered me. Anyone out there could use the same stock photos and I’d see the model on someone else’s books. At the same time, the heavy photoshopped feel of some of the covers made me feel like this was just too much. We were trying to manipulate stock photo far too much.
I was also at a crossroads with the second artist for the interior art, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get art into the books anymore. I was searching Deviant Art for an artist who could work with me and work fast on producing more pieces for MERCY, ASYLUM and CHAOS. I knew I might have to start from scratch but I was willing to take that chance if the art would stun the readers.
Then I found Galia and Kitty. Their redraws of Elsa and Anna were hard to look away from, and I had to work with them. I didn’t know WHAT we would work on, but an idea struck: redo the TFTF covers. Since Galia and Kitty specialized in redraws, I thought, take the original covers and have them redraw them in their style, which was anime, but closer to the artwork inside the books than anything else.
I waited weeks for Galia to begin, and was posting on my group Incoherent Introverts and other places that we were getting new covers.
When I showed the art to some of my fans, they both loved and hated them. I guess I understand, but I truly loved the new direction. I wanted these covers to attract a younger audience, to match the interior art, and to be something that would stand apart from all the other covers out there.
I think what I got was exactly what I was looking for.
I asked Emma to be on board to do the typography and design bits for these covers, because she’s really the only person I want working on my book covers ever. We waited together on a number of things because I was being really picky. This was the first time I’d have to sell a publisher on a cover, since nope I didn’t have the blessing of Kevin or WordFire Press behind me to get these covers.
Emma and I waited on the art, loved some of it, hated some of it, had to have some of it redone a bunch of times, but eventually it was perfect. Then we waited on the guy who owned the font we wanted to use. After testing a lot of other fonts I chose Dust Serif, which we couldn’t use without a proper license. So the guy took forever to get back to us and then charged us for it and we went on our merry way.
If that wasn’t enough, I decided I wanted accents and we went through the book store looking at cool covers similar to mine and decided what we wanted my new ones to look like. Both of us thought the tree of life, or some kind of emblem would be fantastic. I did the stock photo searching and came up with the image, and some other cool celtic knot corner pieces.
Once we had all the pieces together, Emma was able to layout and design the covers within a few days. I’m never worried with Emma because I know what she’ll produce will be amazing. And then we often sit back and have our own private little SQUEEEE moments until we’re allowed to show the world the pretty cover.
How did it go with Kevin? Well, when we did show him, he wasn’t sure about their saleability, but he was willing to give them a chance and hope it opens me up to a new market of fans.
And if you haven’t seen them at the top of my page here they are again, minus CHAOS because we’re still working on that one.
In the end I might very well be that crazy author that’s addicted to redoing my covers a bazillion times, or it just goes to show that when you find a cover designer you like working with, you should thank your lucky stars and never look back.
Either way, I’m 100% in love with these covers and cannot thank Emma Michaels enough for putting up with all my crazy throughout the process!