As a writer, one of the hardest things I do is reconcile my internal vision for a character with the very real depiction given to me by the cover artist.
Their cover design is based primarily on a form we fill out that seems more applicable for eHarmony than useful as a map to successfully navigate our expectations. I’m sure trying to reconstruct the men who have been roaming the hallways of my brain for months is virtually an impossible task, but it’s the quest we give them.
When I say dark hair, will they know I mean ebony brown hair with milk chocolate highlights or does that translate into locks so dark they appear black with a raven’s wing blues and greens and purples that flash in the sun? The artist should know which, right?
So when you, the award-winning artist, pick the wrong shade of ginger, the wrong profile, the model with a square jaw when elfin is clearly indicated in my story bible, I’m devastated. Well not me exactly. I have friends who are great cover artists, and they flick my nose virtually and tell me to either suck it up or simply… ask for what I need, ask for what I want. But be respectful.
Having a productive, cooperative dialog with your cover artist is key. Because, let’s be fair, it’s in no one’s interest to have a lousy cover, and no one sets out to purposefully ruin your vision for your work. Channeling your inner diva here is not going to get you the results your book deserves.
Somewhere in this dance of competing interests, between the writer’s artistic vision and the commercial reality of publishing, is the perfect balance—a ballet that not only captures the story but also elevates it, making it accessible to the browsing public.
But, like all art that should look effortless and ethereal from the outside, it takes work, a willingness to not overreact until it’s time to take a stand, and more than anything, action—jumping into the trenches to help dig through the thousands of stock photos on the many sites available. By doing this yourself—and sending them links to models you like—it gives your artist a tangible example of what you’re willing to consider when the ideal is out of reach.
My character Nick, who graces the cover of 6 Days to Valentine, is a case in point. This is the inspiration photo that I sent to my publisher along with my cover form.
Obviously not a photo we could get the rights to—or afford for a novella, if rights were available—or even want…usually not a lot of snow in Tennessee in February. The point is, this photo represents who I think Nick is, not just physically but as a person. He’s a bit of a mess. But he’s compelling. When I think of Nick leaning over the bar, giving FatBoy a hard time, this is the guy in my head.
It took Wilde City Press’s Creative Director, Adrian Nicholas, a little time to find the right Nick for me. We went through three models with accompanying cover mockups before we settled on this one.
It took me a moment to make room for him in my head, but I think Adrian did a fine job. The new Nick is a little less scruffy, a little less dark—he cleans up well. But most important of all, he shares the original inspiration photo’s independent spirit with just a touch of vulnerability to offset the challenge in his eyes. The tattoos don’t hurt either. –LE
BLURB: In Nick’s perfect world, Valentine’s Day would be struck from the calendar.
Nick’s dreams of a Happily Ever After were shredded long ago and the last thing he and his customers need is a bunch of happy loving couples rubbing it in their faces.
Bouncer Fat Boy Newman is willing to bet he knows Nick’s heart better than he does. He has just six days to change Nick’s mind about romance and the holiday and the perfect man to do it.
Too bad it’s not him.
Too bad Nick’s not going down without a fight.
Too bad he cheats.
AUTHOR BIO: LE Franks lives in the SF Bay Area, surrounded by inspiration everywhere. After years of ignoring the voices in her head, LE is finally taking off the filters and giving the stories free rein. These days, she can be found frequently writing about sexy men who desperately need a happily ever.
LE writes M/M Romance in a unique mix of humor and drama with enough suspense to produce fast paced stories filled with emotion and passion and featuring characters that are quirky and complicated. Don’t expect the typical rugged hero or sophisticated businessman with the world at their feet; LE’s men are living in the margins–they’re in the middle of their journey, doing the best they can while searching for a connection to something bigger than themselves. With a little effort and a lot of luck they may actually find their happily-ever-afters.
When not writing, LE wrangles an odd assortment of jobs (six – at last count), houseguests (including pro baseball players), family, and friends. Manifesting an odd combination of contradictory talents and traits, LE is tragically honest and personally deceptive, and makes the best piecrust – ever.