This month #InkRipples is talking about book covers and I’m exploring the making of a book cover. Last week I shared the progression of a couple covers as I worked with digital artists. This week I want to share the experience of working with an illustrator. Oh my gosh! So cool. (It’s all cool, actually, but whatever.)
My first published novel was The Weaver, published by Guardian Angel Publishing, a publisher of books for children from 0 – 12. The majority of the books they publish are picture books, which require heavy illustrating, but my book was a middle grade novel – no illustrations required. Or so I thought. The publisher paired me with illustrator K.C. Snider for my cover art, because we live close to each other.
K.C. invited me to her house to see her studio. Then we went to lunch and talked about my book and what I might want on the cover. Keep in mind this is my first book. I’ve never collaborated over a cover before. Never thought about what a cover should look like. Never expected to have input on the cover. And finally, was pretty star struck to be having lunch with an illustrator/established fine western artist.
K.C. had just been in St. Louis visiting the publisher and when she was there the publisher mentioned that I wanted a house on the cover of my book. Turns out, my publisher used to be in real estate and sold a house in St. Louis that she thought fit with the old-timey, village-y feel in my book. So they went and took some photos of the house and K.C. shared them with me over lunch. She said there should be something child-like on the cover as well. I mentioned there was a gnome-elf character in the story and shared his physical description with her. A few weeks (maybe) later I got a mock up of the cover.
This was the full art. Some would wrap around the back of the book. The publisher still had to add the title and my name. She tried a few different treatments with the lettering before we settled on the woven look. I'll be honest, I geeked out over each step. Here's the final:
A couple years later my standalone novel became a series with the impending publication of The Wishing Well. Suddenly we needed to collaborate on another cover. When K.C. asked me if I had a house in mind I said, “As a matter of fact…” There is a house in my town that I’ve always loved because of its old timey feel. I knocked on the front door one day and asked, “Can your house be on my next book cover?” The owners were thrilled.
Finally, it came time for the third book in the series, The Lumpy Duckling, to get a cover and I didn’t have a feel for that one, but all I had to do was look around my own home. I love houses. Cottages to be specific. I have Thomas Kincade plaques, paintings of quaint farm scenes, and miniatures all around my house. So, I took pictures of my favorites and K.C. combined elements of them to make an idyllic scene. The only change I suggested was to have an ugly duckling somewhere in the scene. K.C. was happy to add a duck family with their ugly duckling offspring (You have to get the print copy to see this little addition.)
For me personally, there are two really great aspects to working with an illustrator. 1) K.C. is a wonderful person and I respect the heck out of her talent. We’ve done many, many school visits and book signings together. I’m so happy to know her. 2) I own the original art to the first two covers. (Cripes! I really need to get the art to Lumpy!) It is really cool to have that hanging on my wall. I can’t even tell you how cool that is.
The Weaver Tales books are available in ebook and in print. You can find links to all major retailers on my website, www.kaistrand.com.
Do you have favorite illustrated cover art?