Thursday, November 8, 2012

Editor's Note: Hurricane Sandy knocked out the power of yours truly for a bunch of days. This post was supposed to appear on Halloween, Oct. 31. A.M. Jenner has posted it elsewhere, 'cause I couldn't do it. Kind enough to let me repost it, A.M. has allowed it to appear here today. Your welcome...

Cover Art

Last stop on my international blog tour, New York State. Thanks so much to JD Savage for hosting me; it’s good to be here.

My friend Paul Carroll recently posted on my blog about the technical aspects to creating cover art for novels. He did a very good job, so I'm not going to cover that part of creating cover art.

I read an article which shared the different aspects of what writers and marketers feel cover art should be. The writer wants the cover art to include specific details from the novel. They want to tell the story of the entire novel in one single photograph. To the writer, it’s extremely important that the details be exact. If the heroine has red hair and green eyes, the cover model had better match! As I read through this part of the article, I found my head nodding. "Exactly! This is what covers are all about", I thought.

Then I got into the second half of the article, explaining what marketers feel about cover art. Apparently, the purpose of cover art is not to tell the story. In fact, if the ratio is "a picture is worth a thousand words", then it would take a hundred pictures to express the content of most fantasy novels.

The cover of a book has four purposes: to identify the author, to give the title, to give the genre, and to get the browser in the bookstore to pick the book up and turn it over to read the description on the back. In online bookstores, clicking the link to go to the books page is the equivalent of picking it up and turning it over to read the back.

Identifying the author and giving the title are obvious. There have to be words on the cover with the author's name and the book's title.

Identifying the genre of the book is not something readers think about. However, both the font chosen for the author name and title, as well as the style of picture, identify the genre on a subconscious level. For example, if a book cover has an old-west wanted poster font, and a picture of a man with his horse, the reader automatically identifies the book as a Western and is either interested or dismissive depending on their opinion of Westerns.

Books with starfield backgrounds and planets floating in them are automatically categorized as science fiction, while anything with a dragon, or a large sword is usually a fantasy. A man and woman either caressing or gazing into one another's eyes is obviously a romance, and in many cases the steaminess level of the romance can be determined by how much clothing the woman is or is not wearing on the cover. Finally, the hardest element to include is creating in the reader the desire to pick the book up and turn it over. I’ve found the easiest way to do this is by making the cover pose a question to the reader.

The front cover of my novel Deadly Gamble shows a stretch of asphalt with a chalk outline of a body. Obviously, someone is dead. The cover poses the question, "Who died and what were they gambling on?"

On the front cover of Fabric of the World is a piece of fabric. The center of the fabric has an image of the world on it. The edges however, are frayed, and some of the strings trail off in different directions. The question here is, "How is the world coming apart, and what can be done to fix it?"
On my newest book, The Siege of Kwennjurat, the cover photo is a castle courtyard, with some kind of mist or dust outside the walls. Is it morning fog coming off the river? Is it dust raised by the besieging army? You'll have to read the book to find out!

Book Plug and Bio

The Siege of Kwennjurat is the second book in the Kwennjurat Chronicles. Alone in Kwenndara, Princess Tanella cares for the refugees from war-torn Jurisse, while she worries about her loved ones’ safety. Her new husband Fergan is two days away in Renthenn, coordinating the business of two kingdoms. Kings Jameisaan and Fergasse join forces in Jurisse to pursue the war against the Black Army. They know Liammial hasn't played his last card, and are willing to give their lives to protect their people and their children. Who will triumph and claim the throne of Kwennjurat?

A M Jenner lives in Gilbert, Arizona, with her family, a car named Babycakes, several quirky computers, and around 5,000 books. A self-professed hermit, she loves to interact with her readers online. Her books are available at www.am-jenner.com, as well as most major online retailers.