Wednesday, April 17, 2013

After The Call: The Book Cover, by Olivia Miles

I'm kicking off a new segment on The Hot Pink Typewriter today, and it's all about life After "The Call." For so many years, you are busy writing, reading, submitting, waiting, and then suddenly, that phase ends and new one begins. What happens next?

It's a false assumption that the work is over when you sell your book. This is something I hear across the board from other writers. It comes as a bit of a shock, really, that all the sweat and tears was just the beginning, and that there is still more and more work to do before the final product is in your hands. There may have been revisions before you sold the book, but there are usually more revisions after you sell the book, too. As for the excruciating experience of sending your manuscript out for judgement, and the long days and nights that follow, the waiting game doesn't end when you sell your book. It will still be many more days and nights before the book is released, and while the experience is slightly more anticipatory than anxiety-filled, it is never easy. I received "The Call" from Harlequin Special Edition in February of 2012 for the book with the not-quite official title of 'Twas the Week Before Christmas. This book will release in December of 2013. As a person who has admittedly struggled with patience basically all my life, the 22-month wait between selling my book and seeing it on the shelves has been considerably longer and more excruciating than the wait time between submitting and selling.

As your release date nears, there are more stages your book will go through before it is finally in your hands, and this week I had the pleasure of filling out my art fact sheet for the book cover. I have been looking forward to this experience for a long time, and though I so clearly envisioned the characters and setting while I was writing the book, the actual process of jotting down my suggestions for the cover was a little more overwhelming than expected. All at once, this felt real. I was afraid to mess up and put so much as an incorrect shirt color, for fear I would have to live with it for all eternity. Will they even go with the shirt color I chose? Who knows, but just in case, anxiety set in. Describing my characters was the easy part -- after all, hair and eye color and a few other characteristics pretty much sum it up. The setting, however, took a bit more thought, and the reason is probably because the setting of my book (a New England inn at Christmas) is the hallmark of my story. I had described the inn in great detail in my book, I could see it in my head, but how could I convey it in a way that it could be visually recreated?

Next I was asked to draw on scenes from the book for inspiration. As a writer, you create scenes that are central to the story, that flow with the plot of the book. Suddenly I was being asked to look at scenes from a different perspective -- which scenes would not only be visually appealing, but which ones would also convey the heart of the story? In the end, I chose two of my favorite scenes from the story, as well as a third that was more inspired by my story, but which I think would be my personal favorite. Which will they go with? One of my ideas or one of their own? Once again, the wait begins!

Soon (I hope) I will see the vision I created so vividly in my head on paper -- not in words, but in a picture, which is a strange concept for a writer. The next phase of this long journey will begin shortly, and I will be sure to share that in my next After "The Call" segment!

17 comments:

  1. I filled out my AFS a couple weeks ago too. :) It was WAY harder than I thought it would be! (For my two Romances, my editor did them.) All the scenes I chose were outdoors at first--what are they wearing? Parkas. Boots. Hats and mittens. LOL. It was very hard.

    And this is all so true. I'm playing the waiting game on another ms (chewing on my nails--oh wait, they're already gone!), as well as the waiting for this one to be published. It's still a roller coaster ride after that Call! :)

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    1. Oh, Ami! You made me realize I missed something! LOLOL. I also had my characters outside for two scenes and I didn't give them any mittens!! Ahahaha. Well, I am sure the powers that be can figure that out... :-)

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    2. LOL! If not--it's possible they just pulled them off for a bit and stuck them in their pockets. :D So I'm guessing we'll get outdoor scenes with parkas and snow??

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    3. Ah yes, perfect! Or maybe they were willing to brave the cold so they could hold hands. :-P

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  2. OMG! I was so meant to read this link today. This afternoon my editor sent me the art brief. When I opened it I was utterly confused. My first reaction was 'someone smarter than me should be filling this out.' I had no idea where to start. Luckily I have lovely writer friends (I am talking to you Lindsay J. Pryor and Charlotte Phillips)who talked me through it. Turns out I was really over thinking it.

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    1. Such a fun coincidence! Hope you got yours squared away. The cover is so important and special, it feels as significant as picking out a wedding dress! Especially with a first book...

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  3. I was unprepared for the art fact sheet and the level of detail it entailed. Choosing the scenes? Yeah, I struggled with that one, too, and kicked myself for not writing a book with the cover in mind. Fortunately the art department at Harlequin is staffed by pros, and they did an amazing job on my cover despite my shortcomings. Can't wait to see what they do for you -- won't be long now!

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    1. I agree and I have full confidence in the art department! I especially got excited from seeing the Harlequin photo shoot on The Bachelor:-) They really put thought into it!

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  4. My editor did the first two of mine so I was quite excited to get my paws on the third one. The level of choices is definitely a bit gobsmacking - not just brown hair but caramel brown, honey brown, chocolate brown, chestnut... And of course there's a requirement for a bit of synopsis writing (bleurgh!!) Kierney, I overthought mine at first too! It was a big help that my editor had done the previous ones because I could see what kind of thing they were looking for.

    Great post, Olivia! x

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    1. So true about the hair color, Charlotte! I think I hemmed and hawed over that bit for a solid hour:-) My editor was also kind enough to send me samples from previous authors. Without it, I would have been lost!

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  5. Sounds exciting and stressful all rolled together. LOL.

    I got lucky as my editor did my AFS's for my first two books and she totally nailed down the characters in my debut down to the hair color on the cover. Love when the cover looks like the characters. :-D

    I'm very excited to see your cover and it will be in the new format too. Even more exciting.

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    1. Your editor did a great job, Jen! You must have been thrilled, especially since they nailed your characters:-)

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    2. P.S. Jen: What is this new format? You must have inside scoop that I don't! :-)

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  6. Oh, wow, that's so true--all the little details that come after the book is written. Great recap!
    Can't wait to see what they come up with!

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    1. Thanks, Jen! I can't wait to see, either!

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  7. This was a fascinating read, Olivia. I'd never seen an AFS until yesterday when Kierney asked my advice (hi, Kierney - fab to see you here!!) It's interesting how different publishers work - and how different our experiences of the process can be. My publisher was very clever in getting me to upload images onto Pinterest to give my cover designer hints - not least of the characters, let alone the whole mood and tone of the stories. The designer then hand selected and photographed models in his studio according to what was provided. It's shocking how accurate they were!! The rest of the design - the background images, typography, the crest were all also designed/created by him specifically for Blackthorn. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I'm looking forward to your next post. :-)

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    1. Hey Lindsay! That's a great idea to use Pinterest! I also submitted some photos for inspiration, but Pinterest is a great way to organize everything in one place and really set the mood. :-)

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