There's been so much written about cover art. I personally think we're in desperate need of more stock photo images to choose from. There simply isn't enough variety for sexy romance. Demand far exceeds what's available, which means, we see the same images or couples again and again. I happen to think, while I'm on the subject, it would be wonderful to see more guys coming in for photosessions. Please.
The pickings get even slimmer if you're looking to find a good stand-in for a handsome blond or ginger hero. Good luck finding one of those. When there's no one to fit the bill, hello cropped heads and zoomed action shots! There are more images of women so it's easier to find a good representation of your heroine. Certainly a better selection to choose from.
I don't know how other authors work, but I spend a lot of time - a lot - going over photos on my own to give cover artists as much help as possible. If you're not familiar with the process, most publishers have a cover art worksheet of some sort on which we provide the artist with an overview of the story, give them setting details, and physical descriptions of our hero and heroine. Not only do I strongly encourage them to visit the corresponding story board on Pinterest, I also provide stock images and links to photos I think would work for me, or at least express what I have in mind for my cover. I've even taken to sharing examples of similar covers.
Then I wait. It's an anxious, stressful sort of wait because you never know what they'll do. If I'm lucky, the cover artist listened to my suggestions, built on them, and made life easier for both of us. It saves them time and energy if they do their best to incorporate what I've requested into what they eventually show me. Unfortunately, there are cover artist out there who aren't receptive to hearing what the author wants on their cover. You get the impression they didn't even look at your cover art worksheet. When you finally open your attachment, your heart sinks. You see something entirely different from what you had in mind. Maybe the background is entirely wrong. More than likely, the couple is completely off.
If you're like me, you'll feel a little twinge of indigestion when you give your feedback to the artist. You understand they've spent time on this, whether it's what you asked for or not, they thought they were on the right track. Sigh. You don't like disappointing someone, yet this simply doesn't fit! It doesn't work for you. It makes all the work you put into helping them create an appropriate cover seem pointless.
We're all passionate about what we create. But a writer's emotional bond to her characters is strong because she's spent months with these people. Seen them through trials and tribulations. If we get specific, it's because we know them intimately, and we want them to succeed, not just in the pages of our books, but on the covers as well. Because the right cover will bring readers to these incredible characters.
Now I want to show you my wonderful new cover for Caution: Filling is Hot. The artist is a talented gem. She took what I asked for and really captured the sexy playful spirit of the story perfectly. Well done!
Have a safe and happy holiday!