Not many publishers allow the author, especially a debut author, to have a creative hand in the cover. My publisher, J Taylor Publishing (JTP), not only allows it but encourages the author to participate in the collaborative process.
Now I’m blessed that JTP’s marketing director has an excellent creative eye. Her very first draft, more for concept purposes, was this:
My response was (edited for purposes of this post to focus only on the graphics not the first draft content of the text which was also in flux):
Wow! this is a great start. So breaking it down…
here’s what I like:
the faceless woman position (and her shoes )
the faceless man position and the gun and the chalkstripe suit
what I’m not sold on:
the dude looks a little he’s got a little beer gut (I know, I know, I’m shallow…LOL…maybe if his tie were longer–pet peeve of mine: men’s ties that are too short)
JTP and I worked on the text and nailed that pretty quickly. JTP then sent this, with the text almost as it is today, with only one word still remaining to be tweaked:
(Dropping the quote formatting now to save space)
Me: Love the new text but the dude is bugging me even more. Sorry. The gun in his hand makes him look like he’s sort of deformed, like he’s got those “tiny hands” from the SNL sketch with Kristin Wieg. I’m assuming you photoshopped it in, yes? Then my eyes keep going to the white of his mid-section (did you make the tie bigger?) then from there to the “puffy” area of his crotch and then I notice that his jacket is too short / too small. Can we find a new dude maybe? I saw a few others holding guns… I’m sorry to be such a pain.
JTP’s response: Not sure on the guy. I didn’t find any that were leaning the right way.
I actually LOVE him. I lengthened his tie and shrunk in his thighs and waist.
The jacket is the same and because his arms are crossed, it’s hiked up a little — which is normal when arms are crossed.
The gun is PS’d in … yes… I don’t have the ‘right’ angle or anything on that yet … thus it’s blurry and fuzzy and not ‘done’ … only he and she are full-res files, edited to fit. That part is totally concept because I don’t have the file or sizing or … everything else just yet. His hand is actually tucked under his arm, so I may have to restructure where I place the gun … we’ll get there with that.
And as for the crotch … um … think about that one a moment longer. ::snort:: That’s not a bad thing.
Me: How about this dude? You can have the muzzle peeking out and pointed right. It’s the same suit, but his body is much nicer and it might be easier to shop in the gun.
(Hereafter, all photos NOT used are presented as links back to the site selling the photos since neither JTP nor I purchased them. Sorry, but they are worth clicking to see what we were talking about.)
Can you mirror the images if there’s one leaning left instead of right?
JTP: Ha! How in the world is his body nicer??? LOL he’s got the same problems as our other one. LOL
Without the crossed legs though, you won’t have that same casual feel once we remove his head. That will totally go away. And the crossed ankles is a very distinct part of what makes it work.
Me: He’s more muscular for starters. Biggest problem is he’s short though. But I get the feet part.
JTP: You think he looks MORR muscular? I was thinking he looked FAR scrawnier!
JTP: First one … the color of his suit will not work well on the white background. It’s too ‘light’ … the black ties in with her dark dress … as does the tie on #1 guy.
The second link — the suit is so dark we can’t see what starts and stops … and he’s wearing a PEACH tie!!! haaaaaaaaaaaahahahaha No. Jon would NEVER wear a peach tie. LOL
Then there were a couple more exchanges about the gun in the hand and that’s what I’m initially referring to in my next email.
Me: No, I just noticed the hand / gun oddity today (and I can appreciate that it’s just a working draft). The first thing I noticed yesterday was the puffy middle. He looks like a typical slim but soft-in-the-middle, nerdy accountant. His crotch is in the center of the page near the text. I can’t help but notice the crotch, his thighs (not enough fabric on those puppies and it looks like he’s got to go wee-wee they are clenched together so hard) and his belt that first appeared to be cutting into his mid-section. Sorry I’m so critical of this one element but I’m just not happy with him.Donald Trump wears pink ties. Men in Dallas wear color–pink shirts, interesting ties, blue and white seersucker suits in the summer. So Jon is probably more likely to wear a peach tie than Gayle to wear a sleeveless cocktail dress or open toed shoes (but I get that it’s her body position and contrasting color to the background you’re going for and not necessarily her profession.) The suit that’s paired with the peach tie being too dark to show lines though, that I accept as a reason to discard it.
Here’s another possibility…
JTP: Dude! This guy’s tie doesn’t even reach his belt. Ha! He’s got the whole center pocket. LOL Zoom in on that image and you’ll see. That I can’t fix because there’s not enough tie to edit it. LOL
Feel free to keep sending other man pics.
Me: Center pocket? You mean the breast pocket? Tell me what you’re thinking the issue is there so I better understand. I also don’t notice this guy’s mid-section or his tie because the shirt isn’t white so there’s less contrast to draw the eye. His pants are looser too, so there’s no “gotta go potty” thigh clenching.I’ll keep looking though.
Check out the high waters and European shoes.
Me: LOL…yeah I saw him and did skip him for the very reasons you mentioned. I don’t like stovepipe cut pants and he looks like a dandy. I also saw a red-headed guy that at first blush seemed nice but zooming in, he was too darned skinny. You could see the outline of his toothpick sized thigh. LOL
JTP: Ha! Men. Why can’t they all look like those ones [Very Important Writer] kept posting at [Website X]?? 🙂
Me: Seriously… of course they were scantily clad and that seems to be our problem…ours aren’t. sigh…
JTP: Yep. I did find one guy I thought about throwing on the cover just for fun:
Me: Mmm…he’s kind of Zoolander yummy.
(We’re girls, what did you expect?)
JTP: Or the Running man… http://www.photoxpress.com/stock-photos/person/man/human/9119995
What’s up with those legs???
Me: I think he’s actually a bicycle courier and his pants are tucked into his socks to keep them out of the chains. LOL Weird that’s for sure.
JTP: He needs to get back on the bike.
Me: …and pedal on outta here!
(Insert a few more back and forths with lots of giggles and silliness.)
JTP: You know … there is NO other publisher who’ll give you this kind of ability to give feedback.
Me: Oh believe me, I know this.
LOL…just kidding. there are better ones even if we went this route.
aaaaaaaahahahahahaha That would be a totally DIFFERENT concept. LOL HEeeeeeeeeeehehehehehe
Me: Then there’s the Pee Wee Herman look:
JTP: OMG. Poor Jon. We can’t do that to him.
Me: You can tell the photographers already have the suits then they force these models to wear them, whether they fit or not. Poor Jon. I’d never do that to him.
Me: This one’s at least wearing a tie…
JTP: Another Idea:
Me: Nah…The gun is too random and disembodied looking in an otherwise huge white area.
Then many, many more back and forths about different models that were all discarded or JTP tried to make them work but they just didn’t mesh well with what we already had and loved.
Me: Here’s one:
It would be easy to put in the gun too.
JTP: Ok .. c’mon .. now HE looks like he’s gotta pee. LOL
Me: OK, no more toilet challenged models then. LOL Some of these guys pose so effeminately. argh…
Me: Not right for the cover and I know there won’t be a head, but this dude is just cute as a button…He’s mostly wearing a light colored suit but he has a few jeans shots. I’m looking at his portfolio now.
JTP: haaaaaaaaaahahahahaha Sidetracked are ya?
Me: I got you now, my cutie!!
Me: http://us.fotolia.com/id/28197042 whoops how’d he get in there?? LOL
Yet more back and forths during which I’ll point out JTP laughed and was an overall good sport to STILL put up with me.
Me: How about the dude on the left? Can you cut out the dude on the right? Their suits are both dark…
http://www.photoxpress.com/stock-photos/person/young/man/11844812 (you’ll want to click on this one even if you’ve skipped the others)
That tie’s been around a lot of necks methinks.
JTP: I probably can since I don’t need his shoulder! Let me play.
A ridiculously short amount of time passes to do something that would probably take me a week to figure out.
JTP: And just like queries, we have take # 7,543,765,234 Actually, this i #6. He’ll look way better tomorrow. Had to go find a pic of a gun with a silencer to make it show up ‘hidden’ behind his elbow.
Me: I FREAKIN’ LOVE IT !!! I love the silencer too.
Some final exchanges about really minor stuff and we have a COVER!!!
Easy wasn’t it?
And Happy Birthday to me! I’m 21 today.