Anyway, I thought you might like to hear about the process. It starts with my publisher asking me to fill out a cover idea sheet. I'm copying mine from Elusive Hope below. I've deleted the parts that would give too much away about the story.
RELEASE DATE: August 2013
TITLE: Elusive Hope
SERIES: Escape to Paradise
AUTHOR: MaryLu Tyndall
A. Year/Time period covered in the book: 1866
B. Specific locales (include lay of land, season of year, specific natural elements in vegetation and geography, etc.):
Mostly the jungles of Brazil and a couple weeks in Rio de Janeiro. I’m attaching pictures of both
II. SUMMARY (50-100 words of key plot):
The Civil War has ravaged the South, and Magnolia Scott’s parents, in a last ditch effort to regain their Southern way of life, drag her to the jungles of Brazil in the hope of starting a new Southern Utopia. Desperate to return home, Magnolia attaches herself to Hayden Gale, a con-man who joined the venture seeking his father whom he blames for his mother’s death. Together, the Spoiled Southern Belle and the rogue swindler travel to Rio de Janeiro, both harboring deep secrets and both hoping to trick the other one out of what’s left of their money.
III. CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS:
A. Main Character #1 Magnolia Scott
Occupation— Spoiled Southern Belle
Hair Color— Light blonde
Eye Color— Blue/Sapphire
Hair Style— Worn up with the style of the times (pictures attached)
Clothing Style— Tries to always dress to perfection (pictures attached)
Overall Description (could include height, build, personal style, countenance, etc.)— Medium height with feminine curves. Magnolia has a snobbish, aristocratic bearing which she learned by being the only daughter of very wealthy plantation owners. However, on the inside she’s a wounded lady who doesn’t believe she ever measures up and who feels indebted to her parents.
B. Main Character #2 Hayden Gale
Hair Color—Dark Brown
Eye Color— Green
Hair Style— Long. A bit past collar
Clothing Style— Blue collar working
Overall Description (could include height, build, personal style, countenance, etc.)—
C. Secondary characters, if they are essential to the cover (up to 2):
IV. Story Conflicts that could go into create a cover scene/mood:
Hero and heroine are both trying to swindle each other. Magnolia wants to go back to the States. Hayden needs her money to help find his father, whom he blames for the death of his mother and wants to kill.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (purposely deleted!)
V. TONE (select most appropriate for designer direction, though your choice may not always be used)
__ Traditional romantic showing both characters
_X_ Romantic showing one character (__hero or _X_ heroine?)
__ Comical/quirky romance
X_ Suspenseful romance (_X_ dark or __ light coloring?)
__ Suspense or mystery without romantic tone
__ Women’s fiction
__ Other (please describe)
VI. Symbols (e.g. flowers, fabrics, objects, natural phenomena that illustrate or clarify the book’s objectives and would be appropriate in cover art) – please note 2-3 options:
Heroine has a hand mirror that was given to her by her father. It has great significance to the story because it represents her extreme vanity but also xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.
Mood of the story is suspenseful and mystical and romantic. The hero and heroine are traveling through the Brazilian jungle to Rio de Janeiro. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
I’m thinking of either a scene set in the jungle or one at Rio de Janeiro. Perhaps she’s sitting near a waterfall in the jungle and looking at her reflection in the water. ?? This happens several times in the story.
*Attach any picture, drawing, or other description that may help the artist create a cover that captures the setting, characters, mood, and feel of the book.
I’m attaching the following pictures to the note I’m sending this with.
Picture of hero: Hayden Gale
Picture of Heroine: Magnolia Scott
Brazilian jungle picture
Rio de Janeiro picture
Post-civil War Gowns
Victorian Hand Mirror
Creek in Jungle
Victorian Hair Style 1 and 2
Me again. Cool huh?
Then several months go by while I write the book! My publisher will sometimes send me pictures of models they are considering to use in the photo shoot for the cover. This time they did and here they are:
I get to choose which model best fits my vision for my heroine, Magnolia. They won't always go with my choice, but at least they consider my input. I chose Model 2, but I believe they used Model 3
NEXT: My publisher will send me Cover layout compositions. There are usually 2 or 3 of them using different gowns and different backgrounds (The models in these are NOT real models but just pictures used for placement) My publisher asks me which one I prefer. I love this part because I get to see what ideas they've been kicking around. Here are the compositions they sent me:
They are ALL gorgeous, aren't they? I had a hard time choosing. I even had to ask my Motley Crew for their help!! But I finally told my publisher I liked Composition 1 and 3 the best. I liked the sunlight in 1 and the mystical jungle look of number 3.
Then I didn't hear anything from them for a couple months. By this time, I'm finished with the book and working on edits with an editor so the characters are even more real to me than ever.
Then, finally, I get that email in my inbox that says: Elusive Hope Cover. My heart starts to beat a little faster.. and if you were close by, you may have heard me squeal in delight. I open the mail, download the picture and get my first look at the cover of my next book.
So, what do you think???