By Ann Mock
Have you ever finished reading a book only to return to the cover and discover that the special dress the heroine is wearing is the wrong color? Or the bearded hero is depicted as clean shaven? And bald! Oh no!
As a reader I am always frustrated when the cover fails to reflect the story, characters, or setting of the novel I am reading. What can the author do to avoid this mistake? In some cases the author has no voice in cover design. At times the cover even exists before the manuscript is completed. In other cases, however, the author can provide input. In such instances, the author should take full advantage of the opportunity to participate in the cover’s design.
After I finished my manuscript, The Union of the North and the South, one of my greatest joys was ensuring my cover accurately reflected its story, characters and setting. I even went so far as to place a scene in my novel that was reflected on the cover. I provided my artist with specific images—regal oak trees draped with Spanish moss, a paddle-wheeler steaming up a meandering Mississippi River, and a heroine wearing a beautiful lavender dress with her hair fixed just so. The Internet makes it simple to search widely and quickly, enabling the author to provide the artist/design team with exactly what the author envisions.
Another helpful idea for the author is to work closely with the artist/design team. My cover designers even suggested a wraparound cover so I could show the Mississippi River with a steamboat as well as a Southern mansion behind my couple. The artist skillfully captured the beauty of the trees, which I described on pages 26-27. “The sorrow that filled her heart over the loss of her father deepened as she took in the regal oaks stretching their long branches in the breeze around the front porch. The Spanish moss blew gently in the wind as some of the majestic branches of the great live oaks rested on the ground below.”
One thing to remember is that details on the cover are as important as details in the manuscript. I tried, for example, to incorporate a cupola on the roof of my mansion since I had a special scene in the novel that took place there. The reader would have been upset to look at the cover and see the Southern home without a cupola.
Designing a cover that truly mirrors your story, characters, and setting is the crowning glory for any novel. A good cover piques the interest of potential readers, helps with sales, and leaves the reader with a feeling that the author played a major role in creating the cover design. Having a beautiful cover makes a novel complete because the cover reflects the story through the eyes of the reader.
Ann Mock’s first novel, The Union of the North and the South,received five-star recognition by Readers’ Favorite and received Honorable Mention from Readers' Favorite book award contest in the Romance/Christian category in 2015. She lives in Florida with her husband Dave and her faithful companion, Happy. She enjoys ballroom dancing, and cruising on oceans and rivers in both Europe and the United States. Some of her favorite trips were on Mississippi steamboats that visited many of the areas mentioned in this book. The Union of the North and South is available on Amazon in print, Kindle, Nook, and iBook and as an audio-book through Amazon, audible.com and iTunes.