Thursday, April 6, 2017

Cozy Mystery Week ~ Nancy Haddock on Cozy Cover Artistry


I've brought in some of the best cozy authors out there to share their secrets and their insights about the booming genre of Cozy Mysteries.



Cozy Cover Artistry
By Nancy Haddock with Sarah Oberrender, Senior Cover Designer, Berkley Art Department

You may not judge a book by its cover, but a great cover will certainly snag your attention, right? Personally, I’m drawn by cover art that is vibrant, or sometimes simply intriguing.

Did you know crafts and foods figure largely in majority of cozies? When I book shop, I look at the cover art to get a feel for the general setting, i.e., country, bookstore, flea market. I also notice if a particular craft or food is front and center, as those details give me a clue what the story might center around. And, yes, I do notice if animals are on the cover. Cats, dogs, horses—I’m open to any and all creatures!

Now I don’t necessary buy a book based solely on its cover, but I’ll sure give it a second look. If I see an eye-catching cover over and over again? Wow, yes! I definitely want to know more about the story behind the art!

Being traditionally published so far, I’m not in charge of my cover art, although I do have input. I will say I’m consistently amazed and delighted by the quality of my covers, and by those of other authors – traditionally or independently pubbed.

So, what is the process in creating cozy covers that are unique to each author in traditional publishing? For the answers, I turned to Sarah E. Oberrender, senior cover designer for Berkley (Penguin Random House). She graciously gave me a short course in the artistry of cozy covers.

Nancy: What is the first step in designing a cover, especially for a new series?

Sarah: The art department’s first step in the cover design process is a meeting with the editor and publishers to go over ideas. The editors and authors have conversations prior to this meeting to brainstorm ideas, and then the editors present those ideas to us. There’s a bit of discussion and then we’re off!

Nancy: How do you go about designing the unique “looks” for author covers?

Sarah: We want each series cover to have a unique look that sets it apart from the others and really makes it stand out on a bookshelf. But at the same time, we don’t want to deviate so far from a genre look as to confuse our readers. So, the balance is to incorporate unique elements and details into each cover while maintaining that cozy mystery charm and intrigue. Whether that is in the illustration style, medium, type design, or series logo.

NOTE FROM NANCY:
I chuckled in pure joy the first time I saw my Basket Case cover. The artist who created that cover was Diana Kolsky, and my “logo” consists of six pairs of reading glasses marching along the top of the cover. What a wildly clever way to subtly represent some of my main character—the Silver Six!

Nancy: I know authors supply ideas, and perhaps mention what kinds of building, colors, materials, etc. might be prominent in the stories, but how much do you incorporate those into the covers?

Sarah: The art department does our best to incorporate all elements and details into the cover art to make it as accurate as possible. Sometimes, there simply isn’t enough room to include every element or detail since we also have to consider type placement and legibility. We want our readers to be able to clearly read those great covers quotes and taglines! Sometimes editors pass along reference photos to us (to either convey mood or particular details), which are always helpful in executing the author’s vision. And often times we comb through the manuscript or story synopsis (whatever is available to us at the time) for particular details to pull out.

Nancy: Is the cover artwork done primarily by computer or by hand drawing/ painting?

Sarah: A combination of both. We work with a tremendous network of illustrators who work in a variety of mediums. Some work traditionally on a canvas and scan their work in digitally. Others work exclusively on the computer from the start. The variety of illustration styles is one of the things that makes each series unique!

Nancy: Anything else you’d like to add to the general understanding of cover art design from your perspective in traditional publishing?

Sarah: Each publishing house has their own process for cover design, so I can only speak to what I know in the Berkley Art Department. But I do know that the common thread amongst us all is that it’s truly a collaborative process with a common end goal – to make the best covers possible for both our authors and readers alike.

In my humble opinion, the Berkley Art Department succeeds in spades!

Before I wrap, I want to thank Sarah again for answering my questions, and for working me into her schedule so quickly! Here’s another round of kudos to Sarah and to Diana Kolsky for their brilliant cover designs, too!

I also want to acknowledge my Silver Six Crafting Mysteries artist, Anne Wertheim (represented by Munro Campagna Artists Reps). In Sarah’s words, “[Anne] is a delight to work with and has such a keen eye for bringing cozy mysteries to life.”

She truly does! I’ve been bowled over by each of my covers! (And, yes, I’ve seen the art for the third book that will release in December 2017. It’s TOO COOL!

With the thousands of books published every year, creating cover art that is unique to the authors and their series is an enormous task. I salute the artists and designers with traditional publisher art departments, and the many independent artists, too. Thank you for giving our books their beautiful faces!



Blurb for Paint The Town Dead:
Leslee Stanton Nix—aka “Nixy”—thought moving to small-town Lilyvale, Arkansas, would be about as thrilling as watching paint dry. But keeping up with her retired Aunt Sherry and her housemates—collectively known as the Silver Six—has proven to be as exciting as it is exasperating.

To kick off the grand opening of their craft shop, the Handcraft Emporium, Nixy and the Silver Six invite Doralee Gordon to teach a gourd painting class. Nixy isn’t happy when Doralee’s ex crashes the class with his new fiancĂ©e, but things really get messy when the bride-to-be later turns up dead.

Now it’s up to Nixy and the Silver Six to use their melons to find the killer—before someone else gets painted out of the picture...

Buy: 



Bio:
Nancy Haddock is an award-winning and national bestselling author of mystery-romance and cozy mysteries. Basket Case and Paint the Town Dead are her current books in the Silver Six Crafting Mystery series with Berkley Prime Crime. The third book in the series, A Crime of Poison, will be released in December, 2017.

Nancy’s earlier books, also with Berkley, are La Vida Vampire, Last Vampire Standing, and Always The Vampire. These paranormal mystery-romances feature Cesca, aka Gidget with fangs, and are set in Haddock’s current hometown, St. Augustine, FL.

Nancy draws on historic wealth, southern culture, and the plain old quirkiness of places and people for her books. She lives with her husband and rescue dog Baron.

Find Nancy:


20 comments:

  1. Great information on cover design, Nancy. The covers of Paint the Town Dead and Basket Case are stunning. Is that Baron on the cover?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi, Kathleen, and thank you! I love my covers, too, and I was tickled that Sarah was able to do the short interview!

    Amber, the dog in Paint the Town Dead, and in my upcoming A Crime of Poison, looks a lot like my Baron. Amber is smaller, though. And smarter, but don't tell Baron that! :)

    Have a wonderful day!

    Light,
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Nancy, I'm so intrigued with covers on cozies. There are cartoony covers, illustrations like yours, photographs. Since I'm starting a series, I'm trying to find a cover I can make myself, as I do my own cover work.

    Decisions, Decisions...I haven't come to a single one :)

    Thank you and Sarah for the wealth of info you gave us. Oh, and I have a cat in my series. Jena took her in from her buddy who could no longer care for her. I miss my own kitties.

    Hugs, L.A.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi, L.A.! Sarah provided wonderful info, didn't she? I so appreciate her being able to work me into her schedule!

    Knowing your eye for design, I know you'll come up with covers that will attract readers - never mind your amazing stories! Let your first cozy dictate the kind of cover look you want, and you'll be golden!

    I'm tickled you have a cat in your cozy! I miss my cats, too. I found one I really wanted to rescue, but I'm not sure how Baron will react. And, with still getting the house back in order post-flood, I'm not sure I'm ready to take on another animal. Any animal. Boohoo!

    Have a wonderful day, and I hope you haven't had any more snow!

    Light,
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had another 4" of snow Tuesday night. Grrrr.

      Thanks for your belief in my writing. My thoughts on the cover are it's a ski town with a big mountain, my character is a jeweler and this one is set at Christmas. Lots to work with.

      But first, I have to get Prince of Granola out the door. It'll be a great beach read, so I best get cracking on it.

      Hugs
      L.A

      Delete
    2. Hear my velvet whip cracking, L.A. Get busy! :)

      Light,
      Nancy

      Delete
  5. Nancy, This was a good post on covers. Since my books aren't strictly cozy I went with the photos. Book one Double Duplicity is actually my niece on the cover. My brother had an art gallery. He and my niece staged the photos and my cover artist and I picked one to use. And the cover of my 7th book Yuletide Slaying is my oldest grandson in the sleigh. I have the whole process it took for that cover on my blog. Covers are fun when you have some input into them. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Paty! How awesome to have family members featured in your covers! I'll bet they had fun with the photo shoots, too!

      I agree, it's terrific to have cover art input. My editors have always asked for my ideas (sketchy as they might be), and have even changed a "wrong" element a few times. Of course, those were small, like the color of the fabric on the cover of Basket Case. What strikes me is the layering of visuals that make the whole cover amazing.

      BTW, I love your titles! Thanks so much, and have a fabulous day!

      Light,
      Nancy

      Delete
  6. Nancy,
    This isn't really about covers, but I'm super curious what you and our other readers will say about this.

    What about 1st person vs 3rd person for cozies?

    Hugs
    L.A.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wrote 3rd person when I began writing, but my published books (including the funny vampire mystery-romances) are written in 1st person.

      I dunno. I like both as a reader, and the majority of cozies I've read are probably 3rd person. I just love writing 1st person.

      Which is not to say I won't write 3rd person at some point. I'm sure out of practice, though! :)

      I'm eager to hear what others think about this!

      Light,
      Nancy

      Delete
  7. Nancy, thank you for asking such insightful questions on cover design, and Sarah, thanks for walking through the process with us. I love Nancy's covers. So homey; so folksy. I'd buy the book for just the title and cover art alone, so I guess that's a great thing!

    Always good to "see" you, Nancy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Audra! It's always good to "see" you, too! Hopefully, I'll see more of you next summer ... in person!

      Sarah was so kind to work me into her schedule! Thank you for your compliment on the covers. Berkley does a great job all around! LOL about buying the book for the cover and title - I've done that more than once and ended up loving the stories within the covers, too!

      Happy rest of your week, Audra!

      Light,
      Nancy

      Delete
  8. I enjoyed the interview. I had no input on the cover for Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, my first mystery. When the editor sent me the comp, I grew sick. It was a lovely cover--if my protagonist worked as a wedding cake decorator! The cover was pink with a white curlicue border and very decorative script for the title. My sleuth works as the craft editor at a woman's magazine, not in a bakery. The editor sent me the comp for the cover they decided not to use. It was perfect for my book! I have no idea what they were thinking, but I finally convinced them to use that cover instead of the one they wanted to use.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yikes, Lois! I'm so glad they went with the cover you wanted! The other would've been a disaster!

      Your covers are wonderful now!

      Light,
      Nancy

      Delete
    2. That's so true, Lois. I had very little input on cover designs when my first Sydney Lockhart mysteries were published. I told my first publisher that I wasn't thrilled with the cover and he told me if he allowed authors to have input, the books would never make it to the shelf. I'm no longer with that publisher. However, publishers nowadays often ask for idea from their authors.

      Delete
  9. Nancy, as always I learn from you... I love the visual. It draws me to the book, but the words inside the book keep me coming back...
    a great interview, Nancy!

    Continue to shine,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, my sweet Neringa! I'm with you - the cover can draw me, but the story sells me on buying more from that author!

      You are my star, dear heart! Happy TGIF and weekend!

      Light,
      Nancy

      Delete
  10. I do not like to admit it, but I have always judged books by their covers. Even as a child. As you and others have said though, the cover draws me in, but the story and writing keep me coming back for the next book and the next and the next, etc. I think one of the things I love almost as much as the storylines of cozies is their covers. I really love the paperback versions best. Thanks for the insight and taking the time to do this. Love your books and cannot wait for the next one and the next and the next and so on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the computer ate my response.
      Kay Bennett, thanks for being here today. What kind/style of covers draws you in the most?
      Hugs
      L.A.

      Delete

Repost.Us