Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Evolution of a Cover

The cover for Where Shadows Dance is here, but before I show it to you, I thought it might be fun to see where it came from.

They wanted a woman on the cover again. So I found this urban fantasy cover I liked and sent it off:

I liked the idea of the woman with the shadow of the man in the background, but thought it would be better if the woman were turned away so that we couldn't see her face. For a backdrop, I sent the art department this neat image:


And this one:


This is what they came up with:

At which point I went, "Eeek! You've dressed the woman in Victorian clothes!" (Actually, I said more than that, but I'll spare you.) I sent them this:


And they modified the dress so that the cover now looks like this:

I like the right half of the cover--the moody misty threat of the looming angels and the stalking male. The blue is quite lovely. I'm not so wild about the lady. To me she looks like a sorority girl in a costume (Hey, I was a Kappa, so I can say that!). But it's a huge improvement over the Heaven cover. And the art director and the artist have both educated themselves on the differences between Regency dresses and Victorian dresses, and promise they won't make the same mistake on the next cover.

For those who like the cover image to portray a scene in the book, I can say there is a scene with a woman in a graveyard, but it's not night and she's not dressed like this. And where is this lady's hat? Women always wore a hat when they were out.

So what do you think? You can be honest, believe me! I didn't design it.


Charles Gramlich said...

Although the revised dress isn't as pretty to my eye as the original it does appear to be more accurate. I like the guy in the fog too. I didn't really think the woman looked like a sorority girl.

sab said...

I agree with you.
I always like covers with mist, very mysterish!!^^ this blue is yeah lovely, my fav color. I would have prefered the man more shadowed.
The woman seems too "modern" for my part, well her head at least and she is too imposing (?). But well in general I don't like characters on the cover. I prefer subtlety, abstract.

But I see they heard you and really worked with you. That's quite great.
it's a lovely cover, not my fav (#1 & #3) but it does honor the series.

now all that remains is to read the novel!!....2011 where are you?!!! :)

Anonymous said...

I love the cover! It's really eye catching and beautiful. Especially the low light and mist layout. The woman's arm looks awkward though (1st cover was better - I wouldnt get the different dress design for the time anyways) but I get the era dress problem. Still like the revised version also.

Did I hear 2011 right? nooooo! Need me my daily dose of Hero/Sebastian banter!


A said...

I'm somewhat ambivalent about the woman in the foreground (personal taste), but I absolutely love the background - the blue colour, the mist, the man and the faded image. All things considered, I think it's a pretty effective cover: it has certainly made me want to read the book even more!

cs harris said...

Charles, I agree that the original dress was much prettier.The artist made it kinda muddy when he changed it. I suspect he wasn't happy.

Sab, you're right, she is too imposing. I envisioned a woman in a hooded cape, and much less in your face. My favorites are #s 1 and 3, too, by far. But they did work with me, once I stayed within their parameter of a woman on the cover.

Ashley, that's good to hear! The coloring is really quite striking. And yes, I'm afraid it is going to be early 2011. Sorry!

A, the background is nice. If you click on the image it will pull it up bigger and you can really get a sense of how pretty the colors are and the details.

Kim said...

I like the blue tint, the man, the angel and the fog. The only change I would make is with the heroine.

While I like that the heroine's face is slightly turned away from the reader, I also think she should be partially turned away from the man, too.

Usually your covers evoke an air of danger or mystery, but the heroine looks as if she's out for a casual stroll. Since she's entering a fog-enshrouded graveyard, the woman should be a bit more trepidatious. Her mannerisms don't quite match up to the background on the cover. Even though you disliked the last cover, I did like how the woman was looking at the danger behind her.

Even with these minor suggestions, I still think the cover is nice. I look forward to reading the book.

Melissa Marsh said...

I like it a lot!

Beth said...

The spencer is too long. :-) I'm still looking forwards to reading it.


Misti said...

Well, if you don't look at the woman, the rest of it does a good job of setting a tone of mystery. And the woman isn't that bad. While I liked the last cover because it was pretty and reminded me of the gothics I used to read, it was kind of a silly cover for the book. This one is an improvement. But I'll read it no matter what they put on the front of it! I loves your books.

cs harris said...

Kim, yeah, my problem is with the woman again, too. Not at all what I had envisioned. But the misty blue is lovely.

Melissa, that's always good to hear! I think it is definitely striking.

Beth, I know; I don't know why he didn't make the waist higher, either. And those pretty pleats would have been a nice touch, too. But at least he changed it.

Misti, thanks so much. And I think you're right, the misty have does a good job of catching the tone of the books.

Steve Malley said...

The 'modern model' doesn't bother me-- this is a cover I'd definitely pick up, especially if I found it in the mystery section!

cs harris said...

Steve, that's good to know, because I worry that the woman on the cover might turn off male readers.

orannia said...

I love the background of the cover - very eerie. And...I like the woman, mostly. It's not putting me off if that's what you're wondering, it just...isn't quite right :) And I know that doesn't make sense.

I guess the art director and relevant parties are I coming from a different angle, but it's so nice that they are listening and trying in incorporate your comments :)

Susan/DC said...

Not bad, not bad at all, although for some reason I think her hair still looks Victorian rather than Regency to me. Also, I don't know who she is supposed to represent. She doesn't look like a sorority girl to me, if she's supposed to be Hero or Kate, she is a bit bland for either of them.

Bernita said...

I think it's lovely...especially lovely.
I found it very inviting.
Not every reader is concerned with costume accuracy as long as its not too far out of wack.
The background - the man, the mist,and the marble - is especially good.

LJ Roberts said...

I do like the background and the misty feel but agree the woman is too predominant and the hair is wrong. It is nice when the cover reflects and actual scene in the book, as opposed to the last cover. Even if they gave her a hat that shaded much of her face, it might be better.

Whatever the look of the cover, you can be assured I shall order a copy as soon as I know the release date.

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

The blue is gorgeous and the amorphous feel of the mist. I think the male figure would feel more ominous if the female didn't have the feel of Amazonia, ready to strike him DED.

I think your idea of a hooded woman would have been really cool.

Def. an improvement over Heaven, though.

Keira Soleore said...

I love the moodiness of the background and the stuff to the right of the girl, also the color textures. The artists took what you sent them and really pulled it together very well! Kudos to them for that.

It's the girl I object to. I do agree that there needs to be a sharp focal point and better in the foreground, because otherwise the cover would be too wishy-washy-emo and easily overlooked. However, her facial expression: Too composed, too going out for the evening sort.

Firefly said...

The colours are almost ethereal!! The costume on the other hand, to my eyes looks to be a blend of Regency and Victorian! The top the former & the skirt the latter. Still the books pages will I'm sure, be something to look forward to with anticipation!!! I can't wait

Pax Deux said...

The cover is definitely an improvement over the last. I think something I found a little disconcerting is that there seems to be so much movement and menace in the rest of the cover, but the woman is strangely still -- like more of cipher than the angel statues themselves!

Showed it to a male mystery reader, and he did not find it sent off unmanly alarms :-)

cs harris said...

Orannia, Yes, she isn't right, although I'm having a hard time defining why. Something about her body language, combined with simply looking too modern, I think, although there may be other elements.

Susan, her hair is still very Victorian. I sent them pictures of Regency women's hair, too, but they didn't bite. As for who she's supposed to represent? Who knows?!

Bernita, you're right, it's only people who are obsessive about the era that are going to catch the fashion error. I'm glad you found it lovely. It is a gorgeous shade of blue.

LJ, yes, that's one of the reasons I wanted her wearing a cloak that covered her face. Sigh. But the background is very evocative.

Barbara, LOL! I'm never going to see the cover again without thinking, ZAP!

Keira, this does seem to be the theme. And yes, you've hit it, she does look too composed, almost snotty.

Firefly, yes, the costume does still retain far too much of the Victorian. Plus it lost that lovely sheen the dress had in the original. It's definitely a compromise.

Pax deux, yes, that's right; she's so still, with the man advancing on her. She doesn't look frightened or startled or anything except THERE. And I'm glad to hear it's not setting off manly alarms!

Kate said...

I agree with your feedback on the cover. A hooded cape or hat would have been nice (and more accurate!) and her position was very imposing, but I'm glad they took your suggestions.
On a side note, I DO like the cover for Heaven- it just belongs on a different book!!
Can't wait for Shadows! Keep up the excellent work.

Keira Soleore said...

Also, it seems like the font size of your name went down a notch from the first to the second cover. Hm. The size needs to be punched up, this fan thinks.

Chen said...

I agree with the consensus - the fog background and the shadowy guy is great! The girl - well, she's there. But it's definitely much better than the last cover. Baby steps for the arts department!

Elizabeth said...

I like the cover. It'd make me pick it up if it I wasn't already counting down the days to buying it (2011? Nooooo. I suppose I'll survive).

Mike said...

... I worry that the woman on the cover might turn off male readers.

Possibly a valid concern for those who aren't already familiar with the series (not an issue w/ us -- wife has demanded I give the Sebastian St. Cyr books to her before I pass them on to my mother).

I definitely like the look of the modern example -- it does a much better job of conveying mystery & intrigue.


cs harris said...

Kate, I'm thinking about compiling some of the responses to this post and sending them in when it comes time to cover conference the NEXT book.

Keira, I hadn't even noticed that. SIgh.

Chen, Yes, after the last cover, I can't complain too much.

Elizabeth, that's good to hear, since it's new readers that pay attention to covers.

Mike, oh, dear; I was afraid some men might get the wrong signal from the cover.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with the comments about the woman and how she really doesn't fit the era both in clothing and posture, I'm just glad that cover is similar enough to the rest of the novels that by glancing you can tell they belong together.

One of my biggest issues with publishing companies today is when they change the theme of the cover designs 3 or 4 books into a series or collection. So then you're faced with the delimma of either buying them all over again to get the new covers or just having an eye sore on your book shelves.

Could be I'm the only one that occasionally scowls at her shelves and curses the publishing companies for being that way.

This just happened recently with another author that I read and now I'm just annoyed. lol

Anyway, I do like the cover. :)


Mariah said...

I'm not a fan of the lady but the rest looks awesome! It has a cool feel that compliments the other covers. But really, I am just so amped that there is another St. Cyr coming out! CAN NOT WAIT!

briana said...

I agree with the rest of the gang about the girl, but it's not bad by any means. I had to go look at the "heaven" cover to see what you were talking about and I get it now, but would have never noticed! I can't wait for Shadows! Will it be coming out as an ebook?

Oracle42 said...

I like everything except the woman. Her posture is strangely stiff. I'm most bothered by the shoulders and the position of the arm. They seem to makes more sense in the Victorian dress (which was lovely) but they look awkward in the Regency costume

grandpett said...

You know what, I love your books If it has your name on the front,Im going to buy it. I haven't read a book of yours that I didn't like. I have all of them but one and its coming soon. Can't wait until" Where Shadows Dance " comes out. I love this mystery and I tell anyone who will listen to me to buy it.

Grace said...

I agree with you. Her hairdo is not quite Regency either, and she definitely should have a hat for an outdoor scene. The blue is nice. She dominates the scene -- is that in keeping with the "sense" of the book?

My burning question is WHEN -- or is there a publication date? I'm one of your fans who pre-orders from Amazon as soon as possible once publication is announced.

Am eagerly awaiting this book -- I assume the mystery will be as good as it usually is -- but even more interesting at this point is: will Hero come to her senses and consent to marriage, how will Sebastian come to terms with Jarvis as a father-in-law, will Sebastian come any closer to finding/finding about his mother, and, of course, how will Hero and Sebastian deal with each other?

Bless you for all the hours of adventure and people-watching you provide.

G. B. Foster

Marla Ferguson said...

The cover is appealing, but I think it could be better. Luckily, I'm married to a book cover illustrator ;). So while I know it's too late for this cover, there's always the next cover. His website is His name is Shane Rebenschied. He is represented by Shannon Associates.

You can see his portfolio at both websites. I love the series, and am looking forward to the newest book! Thanks for writing such great characters....

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