Cover Drama: An Author's Guide to Surviving the Big Reveal

Will you have any control over your book's cover?

The answer varies widely depending on what sort of publishing house you're with, and what size. One rule of thumb (although there are many exceptions) is that the bigger your publisher, the less control you have over cover design.

I asked Ash Krafton, author of the recently published BLEEDING HEARTS (Pink Narcissus Press 2012) to describe how the process worked for her.

Artist Duncan Eagleson was assigned to my project. Duncan was one of the slush readers and my book’s champion, as he pushed for the company to accept my book. When it came time for cover work, I had full autonomy, even though I was wise enough to let the experts work their magic. Editor Mambert had asked me what I envisioned for my cover and I gave a description—which, honestly, sounded better in my head than it did in my email.
Thankfully, Duncan KNEW the story—he knew the characters, he knew the important plot elements, and he knew the tone.There were two rounds of covers—the first round was character-based and the second was more graphic (and ultimately the basis for the book’s cover.) We discussed the cover look through several emails and I knew that I could trust my publisher with the outcome. They loved my book as much as I do and they wanted nothing but the best for it.
To this day, I adore my cover and I adore the vision Duncan has for the rest of the series. He is planning a similar design with regards to title placement and central graphic (although I was less than helpful with a suggestion for the second book, Blood Rush. All I could tell them was that I pictured something red and fizzy-looking, like red Mountain Dew. I swear I heard Duncan’s palm hitting his forehead). Ah, well. He’s a genius. I know he’ll think of something.

It sounds great to have such a productive back-and-forth between the author and the art department. How would you describe that relationship to a first time author?

If a writer was having worries about their art director...I think my initial advice is...just remember—YOU write, THEY paint. Two different jobs, right?
You can make yourself feel better by researching their past projects. Read the books, look at the pictures, and ask: did they “get” those books? You may be able to find the confidence you need by doing so, allowing you to relax and trust them.
Thank you, Ash! You can read more about Ash Krafton on her website and her blog.