Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Covers and Titles: Decisions, Decisions...

I'm moving right along with self-publishing my medieval novel, On Falcon's Wings. A dear friend, Gemi Sasson just finished her beautiful first novel, The Crown in the Heather, but also took time from her busy schedule to do some hand-holding with me. Thanks to Gemi's recommendation, I'm now working with a great cover illustrator, Lance Ganey.

Since I've had several years to think about this particular book (you know, those years spent begging and pleading and waiting for agents / editors to take it on), I knew precisely what I wanted: "...A lone, female figure on the right, viewed either from the back or profile, in a long, red mantle, her hair and face partially concealed under a hood. She stands on a high bluff in a snowbound or graying landscape, overlooking a seascape, perhaps leaning against a withered tree. In the distance, a falcon is flying toward her from the left. I like the red mantle to represent passion and the blood spilled during the major conflict in the story, the bluff and seascape representing the physical divide between my hero and heroine. I also feel the background should be a bit bleak or murky to represent the uncertain future everyone faces in the story."

Yeah, not a hint of indecisiveness about the cover. I do wonder at Lance's initial thoughts when he got my email, but hopefully nothing like "book Nazi" flitted through his mind. Wait until you see what he came up with! I'm so thrilled by his initial design, it really captured the idea beautifully.

The choice of a title was much harder, and in my case, it became design by committee. Years ago, more than I want to remember, I wrote Love, Remember Me about a Norman woman in love with a Saxon on the eve of the conquest of 1066. Subsequently, it was re-titled Bound by Blood, but when my two longtime friends Anita Davison and Mirella Patzer suggested that title often related to vampires, it was time for a change. Both ladies suggested some titles during our weekly Skype conversations, and after talking with more fellow writers, I had a list of more than 20 titles. So, late at night I sent an email to nine of my most trusted writing friends, with a sample "back cover blurb" and asked for their opinions. Ultimately, my final choice was not among them. When Kristina Emmons, the author of Roeing Oaks, suggested On Falcon's Wings as an alternative, I knew it would be a perfect fit. Thank you, Kristina!

My concerns about covers and titles come from my own experience as a book buyer. The cover is the first thing you see and should meet reader expectations, a little taste of the true flavor of the book. As for titles, there's something strange about picking up a book with an evocative title, only to find it has absolutely nothing to do with the story. I hope I've managed to capture a good sense of the story with my choices. Stay tuned for the final cover version in a future post.

How do you feel about covers and titles? As a writer, how much effort do you put into choosing the right cover and title to reflect the story elements? As a reader, how does a book's cover and title influence your purchase?

5 comments:

Catherine Delors said...

Congratulations, Lisa, and please keep us posted! This is very exciting.

Lisa Yarde said...

Hi Catherine, thanks for your continuing support, it means a lot.

N. Gemini Sasson said...

Now I'm curious to see your cover! (And don't worry about Lance - I'll vouch that I put him through the wringer and he has the patience of a saint).

Oh, and covers and titles are so important for first impressions. If I'm scoping books out on my own, they have a big impact on whether I'm drawn to the book. BTW, that IS the best title for the book so far - love it!

Anita Davison said...

I cannot wait to see the final artwork either-even though I have had a preview. It's going to be fantastic!

Michelle Gregory said...

nice to find other self-publishers (tho i don't know if i qualify since i used Lulu), but i digress.

i look for a cover that doesn't look like it was self-published. my biggest pet peeve.

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