About the Seeking the Truth CoverCreating the perfect cover for a book can easily take months, and it is well worth that effort. The cover - even in online venues - is usually the first thing a person sees about the book. The viewer makes a wide number of snap decisions about the book based on that cover image. Is the book professionally created? Will it be full of typos? Was it meant for a children's audience? Is it about something the reader is interested in? With so much riding on the design of the cover, it is certainly something I take quite seriously. I pour years of my life into writing the book, and the cover deserves the same attention.
When I was first working on my series of medieval novels, I used backgrounds based on my own travels throughout England. For the cover image, I used me, since I have waist length hair, taken from the back so the reader could substitute in her own face and dreams. However, I only have auburn hair, so this can't work for every story. Plus, I was running out of medieval dresses to wear. I only own so many. So by the time I got to Seeking the Truth, my sixth novel in terms of chronological writing, I had lost steam on the whole take-a-photo-of-Lisa approach. When I mocked up my cover for this, I selected a photo I had taken in England of a path wending through some standing stones.
I loved the symbolism of it, the solidity of the standing stones which had been there for centuries, the simple path leading over the horizon to who knows where. I loved how part of the path was hidden from view. You simply had to trust and head on down the path.
However, as I approached an actual release of these books into online systems, I realized that the fairly vague image would be extremely hard to decipher at small thumbnail sizes. A viewer scanning a list of thumbnails to decide what to click on might be baffled what the image was showing. My aim for my covers is for them to be crystal clear, even at small sizes.
Here was the full spread of my initial version -
So I enlisted the help of a fantastic designer I know, Debi Gardiner of GardinerDesign.com. Debi is both fantastic with layout and is also a talented illustrator. Anything you could ask her to draw, she can draw it. You simply have to describe your dreams and she brings them to life.
So even though this was the sixth book in terms of when I wrote them, this was the first one we worked on designing, to then base the rest of the books on. I wanted something that was crisp and clear at small sizes. It needed to indicate clearly that the book was set in medieval times. It needed to show it was for an adult audience. It also needed to show that romance was involved. For this book, Morgan, the heroine, uses roses to help show her state of mind. At times she uses lush, flamboyant roses, and at other times the delicate rose buds. So I felt a rose was the perfect symbol for this book.
Debi presented me with a variety of samples of cover ideas. These were two of the set -
Together we worked on refining what I loved about each sample options. I loved the medieval rose on the right - she did her research and found an authentic basis for this design. I requested that she make it less wavy. Her wavy lines were authentic in terms of medieval design, but I worried that they might seem too much like a "children's book" to readers who glanced at it quickly. I wanted to make very sure that readers knew this was a romance novel aimed at adults. I love her stone block background, which is a picture she personally took while on a trip.
Debi refined the design, and here was the final result!
Debi is simply amazing in how she conveys information. The Seeking the Truth story is about Morgan, a feisty woman who loves roses. The rose is therefore the core image. A rose conveys the message of romance and love. The rich red color is associated with love and passion.
Morgan is helped on her quest by five honorable men. In the image, there is a golden circle at the center, and five smaller golden dots ring her equally, creating a tower around her, protecting her with their strength. Blue is the color of loyalty. The golden ring around the central image represents love and loyalty, The stone background gives it a foundation of stability. The entire image is clearly medieval, so readers know this is set in medieval times.
All of those messages are conveyed to the reader at a glance even at the smallest thumbnail sizes.
The combination of images is absolutely perfect!
Here's the full wraparound cover showing all sides of the cover.
After we finished working on the cover for this novel, we moved on to create the cover for A Sense of Duty.
I highly recommend Debi for any graphic projects you might have! GardinerDesign.com
Creating Medieval Romance Novel Covers
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