On Covers and Changes

We talk about covers a lot on this blog, but a couple of conversations around the blogosphere this week reminded me that many readers don’t realize how many changes some covers go through before a final version is released. There are several reasons for those changes: the editors don’t like them, marketing doesn’t like them, booksellers don’t like them, and so on.

Maybe it’s just easier to show you? For example, many of you probably remember my cover for Demon Blood, which I debuted on this blog a few months ago. What you don’t know is that cover went through many, many different versions before I finally got a chance to show you the gorgeous result.

But it all starts with my publisher’s cover conference and the cover notes that I send to my editor. In those notes, I give a description of the hero and heroine of the novel, and the general tone of the story. And since I write paranormal romance, two options immediately sprung to everyone’s minds: swords and mantitty. Because those SELL, baby.

And the first one looked something like this:

When my editor sent me this, I’ll admit I had my doubts. Though as pale as a vampire, and his coloring was kinda-sorta like my hero’s, he was missing…I don’t know. Something. Deacon used to be a boxer, so he’s a little tougher-looking than this guy. So I e-mailed my editor back, saying: Maybe a few more muscles?

And I got this in the next e-mail:

I was like, Yeah! Muscles! …but there was still just something not good enough. And it took me a while, but I finally realized that his gigantic muscles kind of overwhelmed his manly sword. So I wrote my editor back, asking: Do you think it should be more phallic?

And she sent me this:

And I was like, Hmmmmmmm. Okay, yeah. Body is nice, and that is definitely a big sword (and it’s even ribbed for her pleasure!). But the problem is that although my hero has long hair in the previous book, he’s cut it short in this one. So my readers might be upset when they get a dude who doesn’t look at all like the guy inside.

Also, the book doesn’t really give much indication of setting or anything. There’s just a guy. What about the story?

So she sent me this:

And I said, Whoa damn LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT SWORD! Oh, yeah BAY-BEEE!

But, um, okay — even though a garden is pretty important to the story, dude’s a vampire. He should have flames coming off his head or something.

Also, I know this is about angels and Guardians and stuff, so maybe the white fits that, but my books are dark and bloody. If the reader picks this up, they’re going to be expecting a guy who’s all calm and stuff, who probably does yoga in the morning — and my dude has issues. Big fat issues.

So my editor sent me this:

And I was like: HELL YEAH! I love it! Hot fricking damn!

Then she e-mailed me and said, “We’ve decided to put Rosalia on the cover instead.”

So I cried for about five minutes, then said, “Okay. But I think she should have a crossbow. AND DON’T FORGET SHE HAS BIG BOOBS.”

And that is how we got to the final cover.