Sunday, February 25, 2018

Gambling On Forever Cover Breakdown

From time to time, I'm asked what kind of input I get to have with my publishers when it comes to cover design. The prevailing myth is that you as an author give up control of your cover if you elect to use a traditional publisher. Maybe that's the case in the "big" houses, but the small press publishers I'm with consider it a joint effort. My latest release, Gambling On Forever, is a prime example. Here's how it went:

I filled out the form about what I pictured the cover being. Here were the questions.
Were there any elements of the story I considered cover material?


gambler with a smirk

 Indian woman. 

What did the hero/heroine look like? Dark hair on both, she dresses in gauchos and carries a whip.

Did I have a short tag line? I struggled with this but finally came up with Riverboat gambler chases the woman who stole his money

What was the setting? The mighty Mississippi

Are there any links to images or covers I liked? I already had a list from my other publisher of the photo sites used by most small-press publishers, so I rushed over to one of them–Period Images–and scrolled through the selections. I gave the designer the number of the photo I had picked out. She had already been to Period Images when she read the blurb, and had picked out the exact same image! Talk about being on the same page!

My heroine, Elise, didn't fit the images of the Indian women on file, since she works on a ranch, wears gauchos and carries a whip wrapped around her waist. So I elected to use only the hero on the cover, assuming most of the audience would be more attracted to a man anyway. I felt it essential to have a riverboat in the background and it took a couple tries to find the right boat. Funny how the boat was harder to find than the guy.

What do you think of the Gambling On Forever cover?

It was truly a collaborative effort. Most of my other covers have been the same process. It's been a boon to have the list of stock image houses so I can take my time and go through them to find the exact right image. I'm not saying I could design the covers on my own. That takes a whole different skill set. But the end result is truly reflective of what I had in my head as I wrote the story.

Has your experience mirrored mine, or do you have a different story?


  1. I'm so glad that you have such a collaborative relationship with your publisher, Becky. To me, it makes sense for the author to give that much input since the author knows the story and characters best. It's also important for the publisher, who knows the industry and what currently sells to have input. That's a wonderful match. I did not have the same experience at all. I requested a colonial ship on the cover, but they said no. One of the reasons I went indie with my mysteries is because I knew exactly what my cover should be and I would never have had that control with a traditional publisher.

    1. I've heard some horror stories from other authors, but for the most part, my experiences have been good. The next Regency cover will be challenging, tho. Anxious to see how that one will play out.