• Janie Crouch

Surviving the Creation of a Book Cover

When I was around four, my grandmother took me to get my hair cut. She asked me beforehand how much I wanted cut off. I, in all my four-year-old wisdom, said I wanted it short.

Ends up my grandmother's, the hairstylist's, and my definition of "short" were three different things.

This story ends with a four year old crying at the hair salon, asking if her hair could be glued back on.

As I grew up, I still had the same difficulty explaining to the hairdresser what I wanted. Length was easier, I could point. Style and color more difficult. What I mean when I say red might be different than the person who has me in the chair. Will I end up looking like Julianne Moore or Ronald McDonald?

I've been both, by the way.

The same is true when I'm trying to describe the characters in my books to my publisher's Art Team. For a while, I felt like I was that four year old again, trying to get my hair glued back on.

Then I discovered the same solution for my Art Fact Sheets as I discovered as an adult in the salon chair:


Beyond that, I discovered the more specific I am with poses and info in my pictures, the closer the Art Team gets to giving me what I want.

Here's an example of vague. For book #3 in my Omega Sector: Critical Response series, ARMORED ATTRACTION, here's the pictures I sent the Art Team:

Not bad, but nothing that really gave them anything to work with (I realize now). This is the cover I got:

Don't get me wrong, I like the cover and love his intense look. Her hair wasn't exactly the color I sent, but I got past that. Plus the pop of red in her shirt is quite eye-catching. The biggest problem that I have is that the cover doesn't actually tell anything about the story. Doesn't suggest at who they are (he's a tough SWAT leader), and the fact that they're stopping a human trafficking ring in the Outer Banks of NC. But let me show you some of the other ACTION shots I sent for one of my other covers. For Omega Sector: Critical Response book 1, SPECIAL FORCES SAVIOR, I sent these shots:

Here's the cover I got based on those pictures:

That cover is much better! Check out the explosion and the vest -- straight out of my pictures! Plus, her lab jacket. The action pictures I gave the Art Team definitely got them closer to what I was hoping for.

So when my newest book, Omega Sector: Critical Response Book 4 MAN OF ACTION's cover arrived, I was nervous. I hoped I hadn't made the same mistake as I had with ARMORED ATTRACTION.

Here's what I sent for the hero:

Here's the cover for MAN OF ACTION:

Do I love it? YES I DO!! It captures the feel of the book wonderfully (the heroine's fear & pain), and that abandoned church plays a critical role in the story. Plus, the hero: HOT and ready for action! I hope you'll check it out when it releases in June. So ultimately I've learned to communicate more clearly with my Art Team. And sometimes words --ironic, surely since I'm an author-- just doesn't get the exact idea across. But pictures, the RIGHT pictures, seem to work.

And keeps me from crying and wishing my hair could be glued back on.

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