The second most important part of a book—after the story!—is the cover. It has to do a multitude of things at one [thumbnail-sized] glance: offer recognition of the author and series, show the characters or setting, set the tone of the reader’s experience, and lastly, invite the reader into the book. For these reasons, sometimes it takes months for me to settle on a cover image.
Case in point: A Lady of Resources, Lizzie’s book. I had a number of criteria for the model—she had to actually look like Lizzie; she had to have spirit, i.e., not just be languishing there gazing wistfully into the distance; and she had to be in motion, not static, because goodness knows Lizzie hardly ever sits still. After combing through literally hundreds of pictures of teenagers on the stock photo sites, I finally settled on this one:
It had all the basics—looked like Lizzie, dressed in the same style as the previous covers, and she’s in motion, offering the reader something. But whoa—what ARE those? She’s offering the reader a snail?! Yuck!
Well, Claudia at Phat Puppy Art will have no problem de-infesting this picture of snails, I told myself. So. What about the background? It needs to be a manor house made of stone, to represent Colliford Castle, where much of the story takes place. Though the castle in my imagination looks much more like Warwick Castle in England, I used my own photograph of Craigdarroch Castle, built by the real-life Dunsmuirs—neat twist, eh?— back in the late 1800s:
Put them both together and you get this:
And finally, you send it off to your cover designer and he produces this:
And the months of searching are over! A Lady of Resources will be out on October 4!