Playing Dr. Frankenstein
The Law of Attraction says that when something seems hard, the timing just isn't right. Well, this time I didn't listen. The cover design process of Beauty of the Beast is a perfect example of,
If it's right, it's easy. If it's not easy, it's not right!
First let me introduce Marissa Lepe Preciado, my amazing assistant who is the prime mover in building the book covers for my novels. Marissa is also a medical doctor who is studying to become a veterinarian. Working part-time for me fits her study schedule, and boy, do I win on this one!
Yes, guys, she's single!
We found a photo on Shutterstock weeks ago that looked absolutely perfect for Beauty of the Beast. The girl in the photo is youngish and innocent, maybe a little young but not too far off. She's eye-catching. There's a storybook feel. The clothing could be 1950's, when the novel is set. Her hair is long and reddish and wild. Perfect!
This was the first photo I ever bought from Shutterstock. We were convinced she would be our best cover ever! First hint that all would not go as planned was that it was impossible to use the photo as the full/cover and still fit in the title Beauty of the Beast. Since Twelve Nights and Who Is Candid? have full cover photos, we wanted to keep things consistent, but there was just no way. So Marissa put her in a box.
And then we started really looking at her... She doesn't look exactly happy. A little stunned, which fits the story, but she needed to look thrilled as well as stunned. Also, Mary Jane is quick-witted. We had to do something about the eyes and the mouth. Dr. Frankenstein begins.
Overnight, I picked out half a dozen different eyes and mouths. One mouth that I liked for the smirk. Some people's eyes just look intelligent. Did you know that you can type "intelligent eyes" into Google Images and actually get beautiful, intelligent looking eyes?
So, now Marissa would just put in the new eyes and mouth. I tell you, she's talented!
Okay, this mouth didn't work!
Here she is with the best eyes we could find, and her own mouth at an angle. We thought maybe we could fake a smirk that way. Not so much... We did find a font for the title that we liked and ended up using. Marissa also created the Sexy Fun Erotic Romance tag line, which I love!
Let's see. What else did we try? We searched and found the model's name, not easy, and found unretouched photos of her, even harder. Everything was in Russian, which slowed us down a bit. I didn't buy the photos, so I won't post them here, but you can find her on Google Images. Her name is Valeria Bondar, and she really is lovely! We read about the photo itself, which the photographer had deliberately altered to make the model look like a lifeless doll. Unfortunately for us, he succeeded!
Marissa widened her face—the real model had lovely broad cheekbones. She tried two or three more mouths. The one above is a noticeably spectacular fail! And then we gave up.
We went back to Shutterstock, looking for an EASY cover photo! Within five minutes, we found the perfect photo. What I loved first is that she's wearing a towel, which is a signature for Mary Jane in the novel. Then I noticed, she's gorgeous! Okay, the red hair color isn't 1950s, but... she's stunning! Thirty minutes later, the Beauty of the Beast cover was complete. And although a mother isn't supposed to choose among her offspring, I have to say this is my favorite Sexy Fun Erotic Romance cover!
Moral of the story, If it's right, it's easy. If it's not easy, it's not right!
I hope you've gotten a chuckle from our adventures playing Dr. Frankenstein. It occurred to me at one point that with the old photo, my novel might be mistaken for necrophilia! Frustrating as the repeated epic fails were, they did keep Marissa and me laughing.
Have you had a cover adventure you could share? Have you tried and tried at something, and then when you gave up and started over, it came easily? I can't wait to hear your stories!