Thursday, November 15, 2018

An Exercise in Cover Design by Alison Henderson

You've all been such a valuable and cherished source of support for me over the years, it seems only fitting that I should be asking for your help once again in my final regular post for the Roses of Prose. I may have mentioned I've started re-working a story I began a few years ago after finishing Unwritten Rules. It's going well, so I decided to start working on concepts for the cover design. I'm aiming for a June 2019 publication date, but having a cover I love always inspires me to keep going when the writing bogs down, as it inevitably does. Also, I like to live with the design for a few months and keep tinkering with it until I've got it just right.

To that end, I've come up with five preliminary cover concepts, and I'd love your gut reactions to them. The story is a romantic suspense (not sure how those elements will balance out yet) set in Big Sur and Carmel. There's a murder, money-laundering Russians, and a couple of humorous, meth-dealing bikers. It may turn out to be darker than my last series but not bite-your-nails-and-hide-in-the-closet dark. In addition, my heroine is a kinetic sculptor who has come home to escape an abusive relationship and find her true self through her art, so there will be personal growth, transformation and hope. Not much of a tall order, is it? lol

At this point, I want the cover to convey a strong sense of place and the impression that something interesting is going to happen here. I want something that will make readers click on the cover to learn more.

Three of the mock-ups include images of the Bixby Bridge, and two are of the Big Sur coastline. The bridge images convey more of a sense of mystery or suspense, and the crashing waves tie in more with the title and the heroine's wind sculpture. I'll decide which way to go once I have more of the book written and have a better feel for the final tone. For that reason, it would be really helpful if you treated this like a Chinese restaurant menu and chose one from column A and one from column B. But please, if you hate them all, please say so! 
#1
#2
#3
#4
#5

Thanks so much for your help!

Alison


18 comments:

Leah St. James said...

They are all lovely, Alison! My favorites are the first in each column: the bridge shot with more of a brown tone, and the sea shot with the darker mountains in the background. I think you've definitely captured sense of place in all of them.

As covers for romantic suspense, though, I'm not sure there's a sense that something interesting is going to happen. I think I'd want to see some small depiction of human life, like a sailboat way out in the ocean (just off the top of my head), or someone running on the beach (distance shot). Something that would tie in with the story.

But they all have a more mysterious tone...which is good! And like I say, they are all gorgeous. My top favorite is the first one (bridge with brown tones).

Not sure if this helps at all! My views are probably far out of the current trend! LOL. I always enjoy looking at your covers. Thank you for sharing!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Not an easy choice but I'd say with what you want to convey, #1 is my first choice and #4 is my second choice.

Diane Burton said...

#1 and #4 are my choices. The clouds in #1 indicate something is brewing, a storm coming, even though the ocean is peaceful. I like the contrast between the mountains and the ocean in #4. Each of the covers is beautiful on its own, though. Whatever you choose will be great. I'm looking forward to reading this story.

Rolynn Anderson said...

I was looking for suspense...only found it in #2...sort of. The other pictures are neutral...waves against rock, doing what they always do; bridge standing in the fog...normal. The only tension in #2 comes from the darkness at the end of the road. I'm with Leah...looking for something more menacing, not neutral. What popped in my mind was a car veering off the bridge. This bridge is so known for its beauty and adventure-seeking that it's hard to make it feel suspenseful.

Jannine Gallant said...

I think #2 is the most suspenseful in the bridge group. The angle and closer perspective gives it a greater sense of urgency. However, I'd go with #4. The contrast of the waves and rugged cliffs definitely has that romantic suspense cover vibe. I wish Kensington had used something like this for LOST INNOCENCE instead of just the rough ocean. Another thought...both beach photos look like a nice day. Is that what you wanted rather than a storm or darker nighttime image that would add to the tone? On a side note, I'd change the font for your name. It's pretty but doesn't project suspense if that's what you want to convey. I love the whole cover making process (even though searching through images is a huge time suck). I'm sure your final product will be spectacular!

Alison Henderson said...

Thanks so much, Leah. I've been considering whether or not to add a second element and decided to wait until I'm farther along with the story to decide. At this point, I'm mainly trying to choose a background with the right tone. I can already tell this story isn't going to be a "typical" romantic suspense.

Alison Henderson said...

Good eye, Brenda. I think you're probably right.

Alison Henderson said...

Diane, #1 and #4 are in the lead at the moment, and I hope both would appeal to readers.

Alison Henderson said...

Thanks for your input, Rolynn. I'm working on the third chapter, and so far, this book isn't feeling like a classic romantic suspense. I think it's going to be more of a mystery with romantic elements with an emphasis on character development, so I'm not worried about conveying a sense of menace. I want a cover that suggests the genre without looking like every single other book out there now--a tall order.

Alison Henderson said...

Jannine, I like #4 too. I'm not as concerned about the weather aspect as the fact that it might not convey the setting as well as the bridge, even though it's a well-known Big Sur beach. I want readers to look at the cover and have an immediate response to the setting. I've been thinking about the whole series. I want a vineyard photo for the second book and an image of Monterey Bay for the third. I like the title font (it's the same one we used for yours,) but I haven't worried about the font for my name yet. I just took one I'd used before. There's plenty of time for that later.

Jannine Gallant said...

If you want setting over suspense, I'd pick the bridge. Even though I'm familiar with the area, nether ocean scene hit me as Big Sur immediately. I still think #2 has an edgier look than #1. But I get why the others like it. The coloring is prettier.

Jannine Gallant said...

What about this one? Same shot as #1 but more dramatic coloring for that suspenseful vibe. https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/scenic-panoramic-view-historic-bixby-creek-534324532?src=Bmy3RuEfcQi6yQfwrlGdrw-1-47

Sorry, I couldn't help going to look. I'm obsessed with looking for that perfect photo!

Phyllis E said...

I like #2 Bixby Bridge. For some reason, it catches my eye more so than the warmer coloring of the first image. For the Big Sur option, I would go with #5. IMO, Bixby Bridge conveys more of a sense of place for non-California readers than does the coastline scene.

Alison Henderson said...

Phyllis, that was my feeling, too. Many readers from outside the area could immediately recognize the Bixby Bridge.

Leah St. James said...

Ah...now I get it, Alison. Good plan to hold off until you're more sure where the story is going. I also think the bridge is a better sense of place than the ocean. I still like the first one best :-), but the second is a fantastic choice as well. You might not be able to pick until you decide what else you want in there, if anything. Have fun with it!

Alison Henderson said...

I'm going to hang onto #1, #2, and #4 until I have a better feel for the tone of the story, Leah. (#1 is my favorite at this point, too.)

remullins said...

All are great but #2 really captured me.

Twinkle said...

Nice post. It is really interesting. Thanks for sharing the post!
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