Uncovering “A Love by Any Measure”

I’ve had several talks with other authors and readers recently about book covers and their importance to the marketing of a book. Note: I’m not just talking about making sales here. I’m talking about the most basic purpose of marketing: making a connection with the potential customer.

I bought Kristen Painter’s book after
seeing only its cover. THIS is an
example of a cover that sells the book.
(And so far, its contents are as awesome
as its cover.)

You know the old saying, “You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, that statement is a double-edged sword. Sometimes a book has a really rocking cover, so much so that I’ve bought it based on its cover alone, sometimes only to discover what was inside was less than appealing.

Fame is no reason to
grow lazy (unless it works and is cheaper).

Other times, I’ve discovered a book through other means, and the cover was short of appealing. ( A personal unfavorite are books for which the cover is nothing but text. This usually happens as a writer becomes famous to the point where their name alone will sell the book just as well as any flashy image or artistic masterpiece.) Why, then, would the publisher spend money on a graphic artist? It’s a reasonable business decision, but perhaps one with which I find myself disagreeing.

But all this thought led me back to the covers for my two books, in particular A Love by Any Measure. I’ve gotten more than a few positive comments on the cover (one reviewer said, “[it] has a cover that belongs in an art house,”) but a few people have suggested to me it would be nice to get a little author/designer’s perspective on what I included in the design, and why. After all, this is the calling card of my book, the image that’s meant to both intrigue and inform a potential reader.  Also, as you may have noticed in most any book store, many subgenres of romance carry with them a certain expectation of the cover. It almost becomes formulaic. i.e. For a regency romance, such as ALBAM, the standard ingredients are a woman whose dress if falling off or way too tight, a muscular man, sometimes with a cane, sometimes with his shirt half off or missing completely, who is kissing her neck or about to attack her bosom, and sometimes there’s a horse. I DID NOT want to be formulaic. I strove to have something that was right for MY cover, not just any historical romance cover.

So, a little on how I approached this:

BACKGROUND I faded it out a little because I didn’t want it to dominate the image, but what you see are very soft, floral colors. ALBAM is set in an era in which feminity among the upper class was an art form. I want you immediately to see that there’s a background of softness here, a concept that everything in the world is simple and yet, with some depth.

FOREGROUND SILHOUETTE:  This image of a Victorian-era girl’s face, framed by flowing long hair struck me as very Maeve-ish the moment I saw it. Two conflicting impressions hit you immediately: the woman is very beautiful, and she’s suffered a great woe. I love how, without the distinct features of a face, there is still so much qualification in this image. Her head is angled in such a way that she’s either about to fall to pieces, or the hero is about to lift her chin to kiss her.

LEFT IMAGE: Well, not much symbolism there, is there? This represents my hero and heroine, August and Maeve, both instinctively drawn to each other, yet still hesitating, struggling to keep that last inch of distance and danger between them.

RIGHT IMAGE: And in to every great romance, some obstacles must fall. The working class, intense chap is Maeve’s intended, Owen Murphy. I loved this image, how focused and since the model was. And to contrast and compliment him, right beneath we have the image of our fair-haired, English beauty Amelia.

A NOTE ON TEXT: I chose a highly embellished text for this as a way to invoke the era, when handwriting (and the writing of notes and letters does play a significant role in the plot) was much more highly prized.

Would love to hear your thoughts, and not just on this cover. Are there any covers recently which knocked your socks off? Any which you cringed at?

4 Comments  to  Uncovering “A Love by Any Measure”

  1. Killian, This cover is absolutely gorgeous. It is inspired, beautiful art. I loved it the moment I saw it! I LOVE the way described how each element was chosen and how it all works. I love visual art myself, but have no talent for it. When it comes time for my cover, I send my designer a few samples of ‘inspiration’ books, get the mock-ups, and go, “Oooh, aaah, that’s amazing!” You have such an incredible talent, and I’m so glad you shared your cover experience here!

    (In YA, I love the cover of *The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer* by Michelle Hodkin (I know, I know…I’m one of a million who do!), but it seems every review I read is either love or hate…which just makes it all the more intriguing!)

  2. Thank you for the insight into your cover process! I’m fascinated by how a good cover can be a work of art and a piece of advertising at the same time. I admire you for choosing to stand out in the crowd. The end result is stunning!

  3. Thanks for the comments, ladies! I love my cover. True, I am biased. 🙂 But I am really proud of it.

  4. Kristin says:

    I agree, your book cover is gorgeous. You really have to take a good look at it to figure out what’s going on, but it’s very pretty, sort of reminds me of Klimt.

    I love the Painter covers as well (though I think Chrysabelle looks a little Playboy Mansion-like on the next cover) and am just about to finish the third book and agree that the contents are just as awesome as the covers (unless she ruins it in the last 20 pages). There are a lot of beautiful YA covers out there, however, my all-time favorite cover artist is Chris McGrath.

    As for the text on covers, I once heard someone say that when the author’s name is bigger than the title, you know the book is crap.

    I hate to say it, but there are a lot of self-published books that have cringe-worthy covers. Plus a lot of romance covers that make me snort. There’s a blog called Supernatural Snark that occasionally goes OFF on romance covers. Beyond Hilarious!

Your two cents appreciated: