When I am looking for a new book to read, I look at the cover first, don’t you? It’s human nature, I suppose, to be drawn to certain images. In my experiences with smaller, independent publishers, the design of a book cover has been a collaborative process between me, the author, and the cover artist. An author may specify what he or she might like to see on a cover, and is encouraged to browse the royalty-free images available at any one of a number of online companies for suggestions. The big publishing houses have a larger budget for this sort of thing, and will often design custom covers with images you won’t find anywhere else. Nevertheless, the indie and small press publishers do a very nice job trying to please their authors and create a cover that will help market the book.
The Ice Captain’s Daughter was my first crack at designing my own cover. Admittedly, I got lucky with the image I chose, but it took many long hours to find it. I wanted to have a girl in a fancy dress suggestive of the era (late Victorian). The peachy pink color was pretty, and set off nicely by the cloudy gray background. Since Jillian Roring’s father is Norwegian, the girl’s light blonde hair was appropriate. Although the story isn’t fantasy, I was drawn to the fanciful feeling the image suggested. I also liked the little crown; although Jillian isn’t royalty, she is nicknamed Ice Princess. I was happy with the idea of the cover as less a realistic portrayal of the heroine and more the idealized way Mackenzie Logan views her.
Using Photoshop, I made some necessary adjustments to the image, dropped in the Victorian frame, and added the titles. When it came time for the cover reveal, I was apprehensive. What if what appeals to me doesn’t appeal to anyone else? Fortunately, the response amongst my friends and acquaintances was strongly positive… but the proof would be in the sales numbers, would it not? After The Ice Captain’s Daughter was published, sweet relief flowed through me at its ranking. I have a screenshot from Amazon that shows it reached #8 in Historical,#9 in Historical Romance, and #24 in Teens, and sales have remained strong since then.
Yesterday, I received a lovely email from InD’Tale Magazine informing me the cover had been chosen to compete in their Creme de la Cover Contest! If you like The Ice Captain’s Daughter cover, I encourage you to vote for it HERE before next Monday. You’ll have to subscribe to the online magazine before you can vote, but it’s free. InD’Tale Magazine comes highly recommended; it contains articles, columns, and reviews of books by category. Also, the graphics are splendid. I especially like the turning pages with the accompanying sound effects!
Now, while working on my next historical romance, Duke of a Gilded Age, I’ve been designing the cover at the same time. Ironically, the success of The Ice Captain’s Daughter has made the process that much more difficult! Expectations will be high, but I’m determined to clear the bar. And I love the story; it’s a full length novel set in 1890. Currently, my characters are on a sinking ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! I’d best get back to the writing cave, but if you’d like to vote for my The Ice Captain’s Daughter cover I’d appreciate it. ~ S.G. Rogers