It’s time we take a moment to go BEHIND THE DESIGN!!!!
The gloom of the day encapsulated my heart until a tiny ding ding on my phone gave me a start. No, the gloom still remained, but my heart shined anew, for BRANDY WOODS SNOW saught a cover design from who?
Me, oh, me!
What a momentous day from so long ago. A treasured memory I hold dearly close. For every cover, I treat as my own, for cover art is but one piece of my soul.
Alright, I had a bit of fun there.
On a serious note, Brandy Woods Snow, my friend, and critique partner reached out to me with the chance of creating her cover art. To say I was beyond delighted would be an understatement.
I mean, can’t you tell from my poetic flurry up top. This Book Cover design has been under wraps for probably almost a year now. (Que gasp of the nonexistent crowd in my dining room.)
This is where I usually say I dove into her novel to read and pick out all the details/symbols from AS MUCH AS I EVER COULD, however, I was already intimately involved with the details of her novel being one of her critique partners. Don’t know what a critique partner is you say?
A critique partner is a writer you share or have them critique your writing regularly. Someone you deem a partner/intricate part in your writing journey. You’re not necessarily co-writing with them, but you trust their insight and critiques. They must be critical of your work just as much their own. If your a writer and you don’t have critique partners, then it is paramount you make those connections. They are essential to making your manuscript the best it can be before querying or trying to publish.
That is if you consider their critique.
So what did I do after getting her text? Contracts signed we had our first consultation of course!
In this consultation, we had a great brainstorming session of all the important elements, settings, and possible routes to take the cover. There were two angles AS MUCH AS I EVER COULD may take: one a moodier type scene to capture the inner turmoil of the characters or the second to play the YA Contemporary Romance card and focus the cover for the readers market.
Also, color-wise, Mrs. Snow loved bright colors, particularly orange and blue. She disliked anything too yellow or pink.
(Hehehehehehe~I’m laughing now, you’ll find out later.)
So how do I now bridge the setting and elements of the novel? There’s racing, romance, internal issues, and the setting.
Top elements I considered while designing the book cover:
Jett’s Race Car, Keys, racing marks, the beach, sunsets, signage described in the novel, shells, Cj’s spicy drink, scars, a tattoo. Bright colors!
From here the trial covers broke down into three different versions. Each Trial gives an impression of the overall feel of the cover, not brought to full rendering. Right off the bat, Brandy Woods Snow and I knew the font we wanted to use. Ironically, I discovered the font for her to use, similar to one she had used before, on her Author website a month prior to her asking me to design her cover.
One element of the cover was already decided.
Plus, the car used on the cover was determined long before, which made researching so much easier. That and Mrs. Snow had an image of the exact car she wanted to use for inspiration.
Left Trial ~ Designer envisioned: CJ’s scar/tattoo with the flowers each symbolizing a stage in her journey throughout the novel
Middle Trial ~ Author envisioned: A sunset beach scene with the couple on Jett’s race car. (This Trial wasn’t finished entirely due to issues we will discuss below.)
Right Trial ~ Designer envisioned: CJ & Jett on the cover, racing elements, Cj elements, Playful bright colorations that fits the Market while playing all elements except setting.
Each cover had it’s Pro’s and Con’s
The 1st Trial on the left side had a contemporary interpretation of CJ’s journey throughout the novel and not so much incorporated the racing theme or race car. Mrs. Snow loved the detail of CJ’s special drink flower and what each flower represented, however, this cover didn’t read enough YA Romance for the genre/market it needed to be geared for.
The 2nd Trial in the middle captured the setting and turmoil of emotions, yet the car would in fact need to be a silhouette given the sunset behind it. This was a bigger problem than one might think, given Mrs. Snow wanted this beauty to shine in all of its glory. Having to make it into a silhouette wouldn’t work, which filtered into an alternate trial, but that was a quick no.
The 3rd Trial allowed the race car to take the focus front and center like Mrs. Snow wanted, it was targeted for the genre and market. She loved how I incorporated the bottle cap detail (designer element pick), specific to the novel, there were characters, but it didn’t have the turmoil of emotions from the second, middle, cover trial.
If you haven’t read Mrs. Snow’s novels, then you are missing out. She loves the inner emotional turmoil of her characters.
And this is where we discussed all the pro’s/con’s above and I pushed with the hopes she might take a chance.
Of course, you can guess where my cards fell in the design choice. Out of both, I pushed for the 3rd trial cover, after having to sob over trial 1. (I didn’t really cry, but I still loved the design. Boo-whoo.)
Why the 3rd trial cover?
*It’s geared for the market and genre
*It has the bright colors she wanted, she craved without knowing it all the time, and though she didn’t like pink, she LOVED the bottle cap pink. (This is why I laughed earlier.) Also, the bright teal is beachy without scream beach.
*The Cover allowed the car to shine in all it’s glory, which she loved too.
*It contained so many of the elements she wanted and I could still incorporate a sunset, perhaps on the back cover to capture that part she had envisioned before.
(I listen very intently to my authors and if able, I will incorporate an aspect of the design they had their hearts set on if it’s not in the overall design already.)
*Last. How many book covers have sunset beach images? We have the chance to be unique. All Ya Contemporary Romances have emotional baggage, but the covers don’t always shout that. They celebrate love, different elements. Let us be different.
My arguments were valid, but at the end of the day, this was Mrs. Snow’s & FVP’s decision. They trusted me and the vision I had and therefore said…
“YES” to BOOK COVER TRIAL 3!
From here we enter the stages of the final rendering.
Yes! That’s right, Jett’s car is drawn and painted by hand. What did that car look like?
I have to pat myself on the back ’cause it sure does look the same!
The romantic sunset on the back of the cover is also painted in from scratch. These two elements alone took several days and then tweaks through the following weeks. Even the lovely bottle cap is painted in.
Once Jett’s race car was painted in I switched gears over to the character silhouettes. There were a few trials and errors with the silhouettes for the main character CJ. The first figure used for CJ showed the main character drinking her spicy soda, however, could this be misinterpreted?
Would someone confuse the soda with an alcoholic beverage?
Since this could happen, the figure was switched to one that held the bottle vs. drinking, which worked out even better since it captured the quirkiness of female lead.
Last another quick debate on the tag line coloring, the back cover details were input along with all of the author’s social media links for her fans.
The final results of AS MUCH AS I EVER COULD speak for themselves!
The cover is geared for the market, the genre, has cohesive elements back to front, coloration is also cohesive, and all design elements relate to the details inside the novel.
There are so many tiny details hidden within the front and back of the cover that refers back to the novel.
- The brand of car has Jett’s racing team name
- Also Cj & Jett’s initials are inside the grill detail of the race car.
- The key chain Jett’s twirling has a key-fob with his name in it.
- The soda in CJ’s hand is from a specific one in the novel.
- The bottle cap is the color from that specific brand of drink.
- The beach sunset scene on the back cover has CJ & Jett written into the clouds.
- The silhouettes used for the characters CJ & Jett are Mrs. Snow’s children.
- (And no, I will not share those images. I believe in family privacy 100%.)
- Even though Mrs. Snow wasn’t keen on pink or yellow, when I presented these options she fell in love automatically. There’s a difference between overall colors and just a touch to make a pop.
And for any Authors that will one day be working with me or dream of contacting me for creating their book babies cover art, then I hope this gives you an inside peek on the process. Publishing a novel can be nerve-wracking and to those on the outside, it may seem like the biggest unknown.
Here’s to bridging that unknown and easing the nerves of what to expect when cover designing. That is if you’re contracted with Filles Vertes Publishing or Me.
I’m beyond honored Brandy Woods Snow & FVP entrusted me with AS MUCH AS I EVER COULD and hope that the readers adore the cover art just as much as I do!
Jena R Collins Designs/ The Mother Cover Lover Out!