Friday, June 2, 2017

What's in a cover? by Susan Oleksiw

One of the thrills of being a published writer is opening up a box of books and seeing your name on the cover. There’s no better feeling. (Well, perhaps signing a contract.) When I opened the box of free copies for the mass market paperback by Worldwide Mystery for the third Anita Ray novel, For the Love of Parvati, I was both thrilled and intrigued. This is the third edition of this book in the series, and the only thing the covers have in common is the color green.

I look to a cover to tell me what the book is about—violent, romantic, humorous, part of a series, frivolous, historical. If the cover doesn’t match the content, I’m disappointed and may never read anything by that author again. I put a lot of faith in the cover as well as the first few pages. I worry about the covers of my books, especially the Anita Ray series.

Not everyone wants to visit the sometimes chaotic world of India, so I want the covers to draw in the reader, to show the beauty of the landscape and the culture. The three covers for For the Love of Parvati have succeeded in conveying some of the qualities I want readers to get while reading.

The design on the jacket for the hardcover was done by Deirdre Wait, for Five Star. I got to see it before final approval, and I loved the cover. Every detail related to something in the story, but nothing could be considered a spoiler for the reader. The images captured the atmosphere of this part of South India during the monsoon, as well as the isolation of an old estate in the hills.

The cover for the trade paperback used a format that a designer worked out for me. She found a frame, in this case a marble inlay window, in which I could place an appropriate photo I’d taken in India. I gave her a few images and asked her to pick the one she thought would work best within the archway. Once again, the designer chose an old mansion outside a city, though you can’t really tell that from the cover. (For those who have looked closely and might be wondering, the building is now part of a school, which explains the blue sign on an upper balcony.)

The third cover, for the mass market paperback from Worldwide Mystery surprised me. It was different from the first two, but fit the story perfectly. The cover shows an old wooden bridge crossing a wide, rocky river in the hills. The remote mountain location, the wild water below the bridge, and the gray monsoon sky promise the story within.

Covers go through lots of permutations before a designer is fully satisfied. I was fortunate to have a chance to review a sample cover for the first Anita Ray book in the series, Under the Eye of Kali. I made a few suggestions, which the designer agreed with, and I was fully satisfied with the results.

I’ve had successful covers for the Anita Ray books, perhaps because the setting of South India inspires artists and designers, and there are now thousands of images available for use. The photos chosen for my books have always been spot on. But the designers have stayed close to the story line, and that means the covers are true to the story inside.

You can find my Anita Ray series here:


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi Susan,

As you know, I love this series and am delighted to see the new paperback cover from Worldwide. Each of the covers is lovely. Congrats!

Susan Oleksiw said...

Thanks, Jacquie. I'm fortunate to have such beautiful artwork. I hope they draw in readers.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

They're all beautiful, Susan!

Sometime this year Pelican Book Group will be re-releasing an updated/revised/edited version of my novel, The Inheritance complete with a new cover. Knowing your work is worth re-issuing never gets old!

Good luck and God's blessings

Bonnie Tharp said...

Great covers. The really good ones pull me in. And there isn't anything like that magical feeling of opening a box of your books and seeing/touching this wonderful story you created.