Art For An Eighteenth Century Tale

Because the cover is probably the FIRST THING anyone sees of your book, and we all know how important “first impressions” are, I have to believe the cover art issue drives every indie author nuts. It does me. Naturally, you are desperate to get it right.

Free Stock Photo: Various art related clip art.
Free Stock Photo: Various art related clip art.

None of the covers I’ve seen over the years from artists offering original artwork in the romance genre have been, let’s say, what I wanted for my books. The last thing you need is the cover letting down the story inside that you’ve worked hard to bring to life. If the cover’s a turn off, there are potential readers who will turn away and never read a word of the tale.

Passports and Distances are probably obvious enough cover art – photographs of American and French flags, and the Eiffel Tower, respectively. Frontiers is, and I suspected it at the time, something of an “artsy” gamble that is perhaps too obscure for many potential readers, even those familiar with France: Notre Dame de la Garde, overlooking Dahouët harbor, in Brittany; but why that’s the cover becomes abundantly clear when one reads the novel.

The bottom line is this: I absolutely refuse to be even slightly embarrassed by my covers. Quite the opposite: I want to be proud of them. I know artists (like authors) need to eat, but I will not pay for the likes of cringeworthy, half-naked stock models hanging all over each other or similar cookie-cutter stuff. Frankly, I think readers deserve better than something off an assembly line.

So that compels you as an author to follow your instincts. I have now for Conventions – which I don’t expect to finish writing before early 2017. Here’s a first stab at its front cover:

Working Cover for "Conventions." Click to expand.
Working Cover for “Conventions.” Click to expand.

To my mind it accidentally evokes Jane Austen or a Penguin Classics cover, which may be both good and bad. It catches the “spirit” of the story, and it looks like a serious work of fiction, which is good. On the other hand, it could make it appear a tad too serious and as a result scare off potential readers who are terrified of reading the likes of, uh, Jane Austen or a Penguin Classic.

Regardless, I don’t have nearly as much flexibility this time out. As you probably know, I’ve used personal photographs for cover art for those first three books. Given the planned timeframe for this one (the 1780s-1790s, and 1840ish), I’m obviously unable to fall back on my own photos.

Yes, that’s right, I don’t personally recall the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I’m sure I was born in a decade many of you have only read about. But c’mon, I’m not THAT old! 😉

Even if I were, I wouldn’t have had even my 1980s/1990s 35mm camera on me back then, of course. The Conventions cover art there is from a portion of an out of copyright painting. It’s a view of a part of pre-revolutionary Paris, around 1780.


NOTE: I posted this a bit early today because we’re shortly headed out for another walk here on Tenerife. I’m not told exactly what we’ll encounter today. Should there be coastal cliffs I’m dangling from, or a gorge, or a volcano, I’ll be sure to let you know tomorrow. 🙂

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Author: “Conventions: The Garden At Paris,” “Passports,” “Frontiers,” and “Distances.” British Airways frequent flier. Lover of the Catskill Mountains...and the 1700s. New novel of 1797-1805, "Tomorrow The Grace," due out in 2019.