by Rain Trueax
From the the time I decided to become an indie author, I wanted to do my own covers. Being a painter and sculptor, I thought how hard could a cover be? Naive is one word for where I was back then. I thought my first covers were fine-- looked like my characters. My painter friend loved them. It turned out readers-- not so much. To them, they were amateur looking and made them expect the books to be inferior. From that day began a learning process that has been ongoing.
I thought I'd write about some of that process with my first indie published book, one that has undergone maybe the most changes.
Desert Inferno is a contemporary adventure romance set on the border in Arizona. I don't know how many covers it's had. Some changes were tweaks, others major shifts in what part of the story would be emphasized.
The story, in terms of a cover, has a major complication in the hero. He is big, powerful, tawny haired, and most (not the heroine) see him as ugly. Romance heroes are almost never ugly. Models for these covers are never ugly. Jake is that kind of ugly that can also be seen as beautiful. Artists, like Rachel, its heroine, know there can be a thin line, very thin, between the two. I wanted the cover to be true to him.
One of my attempts used Jimmy Thomas, as handsome as men come, and gave him a big nose. When Jimmy saw it, he wasn't thrilled, felt an ugly man would not draw in readers, and suggested I find something that didn't show the hero's face. Two of those came next (showing one here). I wasn't happy with it but had no better plan. For awhile, I used a sunset-- pretty but wrong vibe.
It only dawned on me this month that I didn't need the hero on the cover. It could be the heroine-- after all, it begins with her and she faces one of the greatest challenges in the book.
So, with my Deposit Photo Plan in hand, I found Rachel. The photo is dark for a cover, but my intention was always to take it to Dreamscope where they offer apps to turn photos painterly. The one I have been favoring is Oil Pastel Portrait. My first try came out great until I looked at Rachel's hair. While she might have reddish highlights, she is not a redhead.
If I have learned one thing in the five years since I began, it's that a cover, with hero or heroine on it, better have images that match the characters in the book. I went back to the photo and darkened her hair... That time, the app turned her hair white... It is an AI tool and has its own reasons behind what it does-- no arguing with that. I darkened the photo's hair again and sharpened the image. Eureka!
Will readers like it better? I have no idea. Art is not a particularly objective field. It pleases me... for now.
I see a little irony in this as I have come full circle back to more painterly covers. The difference now is I have a lot more tools to use. I don't know if I will redo some of the other covers using Dreamscope, but probably not as I'm currently satisfied with most of them. As to how readers see them, I am still mostly guessing. For now, I hope Desert Inferno has had its last change as this seems true to the book.
Besides Amazon, Desert Inferno is available at other sites as well as a paperback (although it'll take awhile to get the new cover there.
Links to heat level and buy sites at: Romances with an Edge.
My blog is at: Rainy Day Thoughts