Readers may not give much thought to the images on book covers. I wish I could tell you that most of them came that way - premade - but that's not the case. I'm not speaking of having a cover artist design one for you, but when you are doing the work yourself. Stock websites simply do not have awesomeness squared images that are ready to go.
And even if they did, would I want to take a photo that has been un-tweaked, and slap it on my book? Eek. If it's THAT good, then chances are, we're going to see that cover a lot. Unless you're willing to shell out a lot of money, it's not likely that having exclusive rights to an image are an option. It boils down to being as creative as possible with the images you have access to, and making it your own.
The problem is finding those images. Sure, stock websites have BILLIONS (okay, maybe not billions, but it seems like it after 4 hours of searching) of images to choose from, but most of them are geared more toward commercial use. Ads, magazines, websites, etc. Sometimes it's using the right keywords, but even then, the results are mixed.
Keyword search: Sexy Man
Page 1 of "most relevant"
Or "I better run like hell because he's got two daggers and a hood?"
I'm leaning toward the latter.
An image like this would not attract many female readers, it conjures up images of assassins, ninjas, and men who like to dress up for video game conventions. It's really hard slapping this on a UF or PNR cover and being taken seriously. Maybe I could put a woman in the background to soften it up?
No. That would make it even scarier.
Maybe that's Jacob. Or perhaps he's just a man who loves a Granny Smith. I don't usually trust strangers bearing apples; that may stem back to my earlier exposure to movies like Snow White, where it led to her falling into a coma.
Plus, there's not much man to look at here. How do I know he's sexy? What if those aren't really his arms, and someone else is standing behind him? Why is he wet? Does he normally eat produce in the shower?
Actually, I think I might put this on my next paranormal romance series. Throw a wolf in the background, a full moon, maybe some crazy looking woman in black with fangs.
He would look good in profile or in other poses, but he needs to lose the Fraggle shawl and jammy bottoms. Maybe a pair of leathers and a nice tat?
Okay, he's sexy. But I've seen this image (and this guy) on a LOT of covers. And if I see an image I immediately recognize, I'll move on. The only exception to this rule is if I know that I can manipulate it in a way that a reader won't immediately recognize. The only thing about this image that bothers me (other than the fact that I'm not beside him) is the direction of his gaze. It gives a more 'whitish' appearance to his eyes, like a zombie.
Anyone need a sexy zombie cover?
Or, FAME! I wanna live forever! Baby, remember my name!
A creative artist might color his outfit black, and put a giant sword in his hand, with knives affixed to the inside of his jacket. Maybe put a skull and crossbones on the front of his hat.
I spend a lot of my free time searching for stock and purchasing for later use. I use them in not only my covers, but other art. It will also help me reduce the search time when I need a great image if I already have it.
Maybe this is the time for me to send out a plea to all photographers: There are a LOT of cover artists in search of specific models! Tough women in different positions, beautiful women who aren't modeling their face for a face cream ad, and vampires who aren't hissing in the picture.
I really hate hissing vampires.
In fact, there is little in this world that is more emasculating than a man hissing. I can barely take my own cat seriously when she hisses at me. I digress...
It seemed like a good topic to bring up, because readers may not have any clue how limiting our selections are, even while we have a number of resources. I have one photographer that I've purchased images through that aren't available for purchase elsewhere, but I don't have any papers for exclusive rights, nor did I pay any outrageous fee that would go along with that. But it's nice to know I have a couple of really cool images tucked away that aren't in mass distribution.
One of the covers I considered using for "Impulse" was an image that I ended up spotting on an erotica book. Then I saw it on at least three other books. After that, my choice was pretty solid on which model to go with.
Here's a sample of the image (and something I did with it)
I'm not living under the fantasy that my images won't end up on another cover. There are far too many books out there for me to keep track of (past and future). I honestly think the key is making it your own. Flipping the images, changing the hair color, background, or eye color. Zoom in. Zoom out. Crop.
But ultimately, if I don't have good images to work with, then my work becomes even more difficult. And so my quest continues this morning, as I do my regularly scheduled Sunday Stock Search, until I reach a point of maniacal laughter and go back to writing.
If you've read this far, don't forget the blog tour starts tomorrow!!