Cover art is hard.
I should amend that. Cover art is hard in one of two ways:
1) You're writing for a big publishing house that gives you stock art and you have no say in what goes on the cover of your magnificent opus and therefore you wind up with a skinny, short metro sexual tidy boy when your hero is a rough and tumble bad boy who is six feet tall and may...or may not...smell like leather, sweat, and tequila. (or, vice versa)
2) You're one of those rogue e-pubbers who does everything from the ground up and, while you revel in the freedom to chose your own art for your cover, you realize that you might not have a great eye for cover art and may make a very wrong decision.
For "Dream in Color" I worked with the fantastic artist, Nicola Martinez, through Wild Rose Press. (See cover art above.) All I had to do was fill out the form they sent me and POOF, I got the cover of my dreams. Well, not precisely, but it was really close and actually more beautiful than I could have come up with.
For "Lies in Chance" I wanted something edgier than "Dream" and since I was picking on my own, I spent a very long time working on the cover art...again with Nicola Martinez. (She's great and she's FAST. Contact me if you need a cover artist...I have her email here somewhere...) So I found the amazing, I thought, pic of the girl climbing out of a river. Pretty much the first five pages of the book. Sales have lagged, so I'm not sure if I'm a terrible author, or if the cover art isn't good. I love it...it's mine...and I would never change it.
Now I'm working frantically to have "Fresh Ice" out either before Christmas or shortly after the first of the year. Since I've managed to vomit out the first draft, I'm optimistic, and therefore looking again for cover art.
I have a very specific image in mind. But, after spending quite a lot of time searching the Internet for something close to that image, I'm at a loss. I'm looking for a tall, dark, handsome, fit but burly sort of guy...with green eyes, and a small blond woman. (Clearly, I give a lot more thought to my heroes.)
I'm looking at various images and I realized something: romance covers fall into three basic categories: Pirates, Scottish Highlander Lord guys, and cowboys.
WHERE ARE THE "NORMAL" hot guys?
Seriously...where are they? Where's the guy in the half unbuttoned white shirt with pecs that go on for days, but he's got a haircut guys would wear in 2011, and he's wearing jeans...and not a cowboy hat?
This sort of fits with my angst about literature in general. The modern day alpha male in woman's lit and romance is a dying breed, and I blame Lifetime TV. I like Lifetime, but I do get tired of a steady diet of "strong woman rescues self while Hot man looks confused." Please. I already work full time, keep a house, volunteer, and help raise two kids. I'm tired of doing it all...can't I have a screamin' hot guy come and rescue me? Would that be so wrong? Do I have to turn in my woman card? I WANT A MODERN DAY ALPHA MALE TO RESCUE ME FROM THE BAD GUY AND NOT APOLOGIZE FOR IT LATER.
Emily Bronte is my hero because she created a dark hero...set in her time. I want to create a dark hero...in my time. Unfortunately for me, romance novels seem to be stuck in the idea that guys like that existed in the 1800's and sailed pirate ships while wearing kilts.
I'm not a graphic artist, and I can't draw. This is why I hire a cover artist. But I'd like to be able to hand her something and say, "now put hockey skates on him...in a sexy way."
That's just not going to look right if he's wearing a cowboy hat and a kilt.