CONGRATULATIONS

Carrie Fancett Pagels' "The Substitute Bride" in O' Little Town of Christmas collection is a 2016 Published MAGGIE AWARD FINALIST in Romance Novellas!!!


Tea Party winners: Roseanna M. White's winner is Debbie Wilder, Denise Weimer's print copy of Widow goes to Andrea Stephens, Debra E. Marvin's winners for Ebook collection are Cheryl Baranski and Rachel Koppendrayer, Carrie Fancett Pagels' ebook collection goes to Joan Arning and paperback to Connie, Gina Welborn's winner is Regina Fujitani, Gabrielle Meyer's paperback copy of A Mother in the Making is Teri Geist DiVincenzo

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Historical Fiction Covers

When I first began writing seriously way back in the 1970's, there was very little Christian fiction available other than Janette Oke's prairie romances. Since then the CBA market has exploded and readers now have a huge array of books in many genres to choose from. Cover art has also grown tremendously over the years, becoming more sophisticated and varied over time. Trends for covers are ever-changing as you can see from the montage above even in the brief time frame I've been published. I think cover art is the best part of publishing but realize each of us have very different cover preferences. Right now for historical fiction, a woman in the foreground seems very popular.


Each publisher has a different process for covers so I'll speak to Revell's specific direction. More than a year before the manuscript is submitted to my publishing house, Revell's marketing team sends me a detailed questionaire as to cover direction. I'm able to provide a lot of input, samples of period dress, color preferences, background scenery, and other variables - my vision of what that "dream cover" might look like.

My publisher then partners with a designer to achieve a cover that "pops" in industry lingo. This time, for Love's Reckoning, the designer sent round a portfolio of 18th-century gowns and hats to choose from. I was able to select my favorites. The model the designer chose, based on how my heroine looks in the novel in terms of hair color and age, dressed in this period gown for the photo shoot. Many, many different shots and poses are taken in order to achieve the right look.

At this point, cover direction becomes somewhat of a mystery to me. The designer and publisher work together to create a final cover with the right color scheme, background elements, font, and more to strike the right tone of the story and give readers a glimpse of what's between the pages. Sometimes publishers get this right and sometimes they don't. I think the covers here for Catherine, Ruth, and Carla and co-authors are very well done. They make me long to read the books! And that is just what cover art is intended to do:)

Are there any upcoming books releasing this year that have stellar covers to you? What would your dream cover look like?


26 comments:

  1. I've gotta say i LOVE your latest cover. It just looks epic. Even if i didnt know you and know your talent, that cover would make me stop and pick it up. It just smolders!
    Also love that cover of the girl on the dock. Something about it is so mysterious and haunting!

    I'm not sure what my dream cover is. But I do appreciate a cover that doesnt scream "romance novel!!!" lol, as in ripped bodices, but I dont think alot of christian fic features that anyway ;) I suppose I am drawn to rich colors and an interesting scene that makes me want to look closer. I do like these modern covers that have a realism to them. Cant wait to see your new one in person!

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  2. Heather, Knowing you like my latest means so much because of you're an artist and have an eye for these things:) Love the "smolder" word:) It will be fun to see the real book like you're saying - I don't ever know what the back cover art looks like till I hold it in hand. And Cathy's cover really caught my eye like yours. Love that her back is to us and we can only guess as to what she looks like or what her expression might be. Mysterious and haunting it is!

    I'm chuckling as I remember those Fabio covers - oh how far we have come:) So good to see you here. I hope you're feeling inspired by spring and your studio is overflowing!!

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  3. Laura, I love all of your covers. In the past couple of years, my friend and I have noticed a pattern where on many of the covers the models' heads are cut off and we wondered why. I actually had a conversation with an author who had a strange situation where the designer gave the heroine black hair, but the book's heroine has blond hair. They asked the author to change her heroine's hair!

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    1. Oh my, Susan - the hair details make my scalp tingle! I've actually heard of gaffes like that and hope it doesn't happen to one of us. That's the beauty of your being able to design your own cover - you knew what you wanted and were able to combine the right elements. That must be so satisfying. The the result is beautiful!

      I'm so glad you like my covers. Not all do;) I really understand the headless heroine issue now that I've had one. A reader told me that it disturbed her because she feels the eyes are the gateway to the soul and so it troubled her. But some tell me TCL was their favorite cover of my 4 so I know you can't please everyone (though I'd like to)!

      Personally, my favorite covers are landscapes and no people but I do love what Revell has done. I think cover art is the most exciting part of the publishing process - when they get it right!

      Bless you for your thoughtful comments!

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  4. Is it odd that I can think more quickly of what I wouldn't want than what I'd want?
    I wouldn't want it to look cheesy or sleesy--for me, that includes, no glossy printed in bright red or bold blue. I don't want to be embarrassed to carry this book in public.

    Things I do like are an authentic look, nature or natural colors, accurate resemblance to the heroine. I actually like it when they "cut off heads"---it leaves so much more to the imagination. Plus, it begs the question, I wonder what she's like? It's a tool for "hooking" the reader browsing the stacks. The Colonel's Lady is my favorite. She seems soft, innocent, and beautiful.

    Jody Hedlund has a new one coming out soon, and I love the cover just released.

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    1. Anne, I didn't read your comment till I replied to Susan's. So glad you're a headless heroine fan:) I do think it leaves more to the imagination! And it doesn't bother me to have them headless as it leaves a bit of mystery. Yet on the other hand, I can understand why it bothers some... LOVE your impressions of Roxanna on TCL. Those were my thoughts/hopes, too.

      I will have to check out Jody's cover. There are some beautiful ones coming out this year for historicals and it's great fun to spy a new one.

      Like you, I think covers where the elements are all wrong or the color scheme is off are cringe-worthy!! Nothing like being embarrassed to tote a book around. I always feel sorry for the author!! Bless you for your thoughts - so good to see you here:)

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    2. I like the ones without heads, too. I never really thought about it, but it DOES leaving you wondering and curious about the character. The first romantic historical fiction I ever read was Catching Katie by Robin Lee Hatcher. Her head is technically on the cover, but her huge floppy hat covers most of her face! I thought that was a very ingenious way of doing that sort of cover :)

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  5. Oh boy, a subject near and dear to my heart now. I can't wait to find out how Waterbrook approaches this aspect of the publishing process. It's good to know the sorts of things publishers ask about, and for. You posted some lovely covers here. Yours for Love's Reckoning is one of the most beautiful I've seen lately. :)

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  6. Lori, Thanks so much about the LR kudos. Brandon Hill is one outstanding designer. I hope he is contracted for the whole series! I think he is. And I don't think you'll have to wonder much with your pub's covers as they tend to be so attractive - for historical fiction, especially, moreso than the romances. You'll hopefully have lots of input and can get your agent's approval before going ahead with a design. Revell is very good at accomodating authors. I've never had a problem cover yet but am pretty easy to please. The mock-ups or templates you've done for Jesse's story are just gorgeous, etc. Maybe you can share that with them when the time comes.

    Hope you're recovered from all the buzz earlier this week:) Fun buzz though! And hope B. is much better!!

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  7. "What would your dream cover look like?"

    It would have MY name on it! HA!

    In general, I'm not a fan of cutting the heads off people. I loved "The Colonial's Lady" but didn't like the cover with her head cut in half. It just strikes me a bit creepy

    Of course, if they put my name on it, it can have a whole flock of headless and half-headed people and I'd still be thrilled. ;)

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  8. LOL, Pegg! I'm with you - having your name on a book does tend to make the headless heroines go down a bit easier;) I hope you are on the road to publication - you sound like you are! I will have to come see if you have a blog. Thx so much for your comments. They really add to the conversation here!

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  9. I'm with Pegg - it has my name on the front. While I love the acknowledgments on the inside, I am looking forward to the day I see my Grandmother's first name (Carrie) my Dad's surname (Fancett) and my hero's last name (Pagels) on the front of, hmmmm, how about the dream book cover being the three book compendium after all have released, lol! And since this is a fantasy, why not have your cover designer put my three heroines in poses and garb as lovely as those on yours? I'll probably go to sleep with my three heroines all arguing about the cover!

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    1. Carrie, Love learning how you came by your names - all 3 of them! And there must be a middle one, too, so I'd love to know that if you care to share:) I really think you'll be helping design your book cover at some point in future - the sooner the better! LOL about those heroines arguing. I've said that if Lael, Morrow, and Roxanna met in the woods they wouldn't like each other;) Bless you for being here - you always add so much!

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  10. Laura, Thanks for including Through Rushing Water's cover on your blog - I'm honored. Heather, I have to admit, I asked for a schoolhouse, a carpenter who looks like Orlando Bloom, and a trio of Ponca children for the cover. Fortunately Thomas Nelson's cover artists gave the book what it needed and not what I want! They really captured the mood of the story, just as they did with Spring for Susannah.
    Laura, I like the cover of The Colonel's Lady best because blue is my favorite color!

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    1. Cathy, My pleasure! It's just a stunning cover and is getting lots of notice round the web:) It's wonderful having you here to share in the cover art discussion - love hearing how your ideas differed from your pub's and yet it all worked out for a beautiful final product. Am chuckling at your "wants" as I've sure had mine, too! Cover art is so dear to my heart and you said something so important - it's imperative that a cover capture the mood of a book. I loved your SFS as well and feel they did that with your debut.

      Bless you for loving that blue on TCL. My blog readers asked for a blue gown and so I told Revell's art team @ their request and they followed through. YAY!!

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  11. I love the way book covers have evolved. The cover art I especially like are "Love's Reckoning", and "The Maid of Fairbourne Hall". Regarding LR, I love the emotion on the model's face and romantic dusk setting. :-) And TMOFH -- I don't know, there's just something about it. Maybe her perky expression and the beautiful flowers she's holding.

    If I could design the cover art for my MS "The Back of Beyond", I think I would have the left side of the cover showing the rugged Australian desert (maybe Ayers Rock or something), and right side showing Ancient Egyptian pyramids, etc. Pearl would be in the center of the two contrasting settings, sitting on a horse turned toward Ancient Egypt, and looking longingly back at Australia. Does that sound goofy or what? LOL! It's all I can imagine to fit the theme of the book. :-) No clue on how I'd design cover art for my other MS. Still working to get the plot just right. :-)

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    1. Gwen, I'm with you - TMOFH is my fav of all Klassen's covers and she's had some beautiful ones. And thanks so much for the thumbs up for LR. I wasn't sure if that gown would work but it seems to be fine with the background, etc. Sort of similar to TFD as far as color scheme...

      So enjoy hearing about your hopes/vision for TBOB! I can just see it as you describe it - very memorable and original! Not goofy at all - delightful:) Just like you - and your WIP!! I wish I was more savvy about cover art. Some author friends know enough, like Lori B. here, to do their own mock-ups of their covers ahead of time like you've imagined here for your book - and the results are just beautiful, even better than some on the market.

      Fun to imagine with you - praying we can hold that book of yours in hand soon! Thanks for stopping by here and enlivening the conversation. You're a gem!

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    2. Gwendolyn, that cover sounds awesome! Idk how they would fit two separate places on one cover, but I'm sure there's a way. I'm picturing it in my head now, and I love it :) Best of luck when they do design the cover!

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  12. Oh, GREAT SUBJECT, Laura!!! Covers are SO much fun to see and talk about ... unless, of course, your own is not exactly what you imagined, then maybe not!!:)

    I have to say that ALL of yours have been breathtaking, and Love's Reckoning is simply stunning. I am VERY excited that Brandon Hill is designing (as we speak) my first cover for the Heart of San Francisco series, which I hope will be just as "epic" looking (GREAT WORD, Heather!!) as LR!!

    LOVE Cathy Richmond's new cover -- "mysterious and haunting" describes it perfectly, and Ruth's cover (and title) really fascinates me as well -- LOVE closeups!!

    One of my favorite covers was Siri Mitchell's A Constant Heart, a closeup half-head shot of a gorgeous woman in gorgeous regency dress with pearls -- absolutely stunning and reminds me A LOT of the Colonel's Lady -- also stunning!!

    My favorite of my covers is the first, A Passion Most Pure, because of the muted tones and the great expressions on both the hero and heroine's faces, sparking an unwanted chemistry that SO typifies the book.

    Fun subject, Laura!!

    Carrie -- cannot WAIT to see your beautiful name on the cover of a book, my friend, and it's coming ... oh, it's coming!!

    And, LORI!! I just heard about your contract a few days ago, so SUPER CONGRATS!!! Waterbrook is a FABULOUS publisher to be with, my friend, so way to go!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. LOL and thanks, Julie! I started thinking last night - Cornelia would not want her pic to be when she was all fancied up - so she'd sneak some kind of pants on. Sarah would have to squint so hard to see her cover that she'd rather not bother, plus she prefers buckskin dresses. Suzanne, well she might wear a gown from Versailles but doing so would make her cry. So that pretty much ruined my idea of an ideal cover, lol. Let those characters talk to you and see what they do?

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    2. Julie, OH, SO thrilled Brandon Hill is yours for the series! And it's wonderful to know he's working on the first one now. I can't wait! You're always so encouraging and offer such great insights, etc. Fun imagining Carrie's cover, yes! And I remember ACH very well with that jewelry and dress - need to read the book! Bless you for coming over - I know how busy you are!!

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    3. Thank you so much Julie! It still seems surreal. :)

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  13. I think cover art with a person on it is very tricky for a historical book. The character has to look appealing, but also realistic for the time period. And so much previous fashion is no longer appealing - especially the hair and caps. Often women are depicted with their hair down, which makes them look like slatterns by period standards though its perfectly acceptable by modern standards. I kind of liked the headless bodies that were showing up on covers a few years ago for just that reason!

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    1. Kate, It's so interesting to read your comments as was just telling another historical author with 18th-c. books that no respectable woman would have her hair unbound as is shown on so many, only in the privacy of their bedchamber, etc. And speaking of caps, I've always detested mobcaps!! Glad you like those headless heroines;) There are still many out there...

      Great to meet you here at CQ!!

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  14. The cover of Through Rushing Water totally catches my eye.. There's something different about it. She's further away from the "camera" and facing away. But I do LOVE the popular "woman in the foreground" cover. Usually I would say I like things that are unique and don't follow the trend, but for some reason I continue to be drawn to these types of covers :D Every year for Christmas and my birthday my mom asks what books I would like, and I always have a gigantic list, or we'll go book shopping and I just go "Ooh, I want that one, and that one, oh, and that one..." So a couple of years ago I actually just told her, if there's a romantic historical fiction novel with a girl wearing a big dress, and often (as on the cover of The Colonel's Lady) it doesn't show her whole face, then it's a safe bet that I want to read it. Haha! That theory hasn't failed me yet :D

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    1. Sarah, I'm a goner for a big dress, too, and have more than a few of those books I've not even opened lying around - so think I succumbed to the pretty cover complex;) Guess they're for decoration though I do plan to read them someday! The very best gifts are books, I think. Cathy's cover is stunning and it is very unique. Since she said it captures the mood of the book, I'm more than a little anxious to read it!

      Bless you for your great comments! It's so fun to hear what readers/writers are thinking!

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