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?