Behind The Cover Art
How often have you seen this comment by readers? “I was drawn to the book because of the beautiful cover.” Or sometimes, you see this. “The story was great, but I almost didn’t pick it up because of the ugly cover!”
Writers labor over a manuscript for weeks, months, and sometimes, years. Once it’s accepted by a publisher, their “baby” goes through several processes before it finally hits the shelves. One of the most stressful of these steps is choosing a book cover. First, you have to decide which artist will be able to bring your vision to life. Do you want it drawn or Photoshopped? Do you have a preference for colors? Should there be nudity, or should we take a more subtle approach? What type of background did you envision? What do your main characters look like? Did you wish to convey passionate love or not? The questions are endless, and most writers provide more information than necessary. It takes a skilled artist to sift through the jumble of words and pull out the key elements of the story to create the perfect cover to showcase our work.
Join me in acknowledging the men and women who provide their expertise to make our cover art the best it can be. Other than the initial round of applause when a book releases, they don’t get enough kudos, and I'd love to help change that. Each month I’m going to showcase a new cover artist to give them the online time they deserve. It’ll also serve as an opportunity for you, the reader, writer, publisher, and aspiring artist, to pick their brain. Feel free to comment and ask questions. At the end of each month, one winner will be drawn from the list of visitors to win a $25.00 gift certificate from Dreamspinner Press.
It's my pleasure to present Charlie Chochet as this months featured cover artist.
Many readers are familiar with Charlie Cochet, multi-published author, but not too many realize you’re also a cover artist. Tell us how that evolved.
I only recently (as of last year) started doing eBook cover art. I was an artist before I became a full-time writer, but I’ve always loved to do both, still do. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much free time for personal art, but I’m never able to go too long without drawing or creating something. When I wrote Roses in the Devil’s Garden, a free novella for the M/M Romance Group’s Love Is Always Write event, I realized I would need to provide my own cover art. I was so excited, yet nervous. Although I’d designed plenty of graphics for other things, I’d never designed an eBook cover before. The feedback I received for it was wonderful and I had so much fun creating it. I knew it wouldn’t be my last.
With regards to your own writing, have you ever been inspired to write after you’ve played around with an image or do you write the story first, and then dream up the cover?
I tend to write the story first and then design a cover to fit the feel and tone of it, though I’ve come across plenty of images I thought would not only make an amazing cover, but a pretty interesting story. At the moment I have too many plot bunnies vying for my attention, so any plot bunnies that spring up from images have to wait their turn.
Are your covers illustrated or photo shopped?
At the moment, they’re all Photoshop, though a few of them have illustrated bits in them, like the canine shadows in the cover for An Intrepid Trip to Love. Depending on what the cover needs, there may be a mix of both.
Is there any truth to the rumor that illustrated covers don’t attract the same attention as the ones that are photo shopped?
I think it comes down to the individual’s taste. Personally, I love both, but then I’ve always loved illustration. There are some cover artists who do illustrative work and they just blow me away. As an artist, I know how much work goes into a single piece, how many hours, how exhausting it is. The amount of detail you can see in some of these covers is absolutely gorgeous. I have certain styles I’m more attracted to than others and an illustrated cover will always grab my attention. For me, I think it’s more of whether the illustration fits the type of book it is and if it’s professional. With illustrated covers, you have more freedom, because however you imagine the character, you can create him/her, whereas stock photography is more limited.
If you had to choose, would you rather paint or write? Why?
Well, I sort of did choose, and I chose to write. As happy as art made me, it didn’t make me feel the way writing does. I could never find the right direction to take with my art, and writing kept calling to me. Even with all the deadlines and pressure, I still love writing more and more every day. If I couldn’t even dabble in one, I would still choose writing. I’m still creating art, just in a different format.
How do you juggle both careers?
Schedules! I try to schedule everything and try my best to stick to that schedule. That way my productivity is at its highest. I’m one of those weird people who need deadlines and organization. I make time for writing, and for any designing I need to do. I try to squeeze as much out my day as possible. And coffee. Lots of coffee.
Do you freelance or are you committed to one publisher?
Right now, since I’m just starting out, I freelance. If an offer came along from the right publisher, I would be happy to commit. We’ll see what happens.
Are there steps you’d recommend before a writer decides on a cover artist?
I would recommend they look through plenty of covers to find a style they like and then check out the artists. Every artist has a style, even if it’s subtle, so find one whose style fits you. Most publishers will have the cover artist’s name alongside the book’s info, sometimes it’s inside the book with the artist’s contact information. Many cover artists have websites with all their information. Know what sort of cover you have in mind. You don’t have to have it all worked out, but have some kind of idea, whether it’s just a pose, a mood, or a color scheme.
How do you feel about revisions? In other words, have you ever turned down a job because you couldn’t agree with a writers’ vision?
I’m open to a certain number of revisions, but I tend to do mockups first and show them to the author before continuing, to make sure they’re happy with the models, the colors, the images used, the fonts, layout, and so on. That’s where a lot of the tweaking happens. As of yet, I haven’t had to turn down any jobs and the folks I’ve worked with have been lovely.
Does any genre appeal to you or are you strictly m/m?
At the moment, I’m strictly m/m because it’s what I write, what I’m immersed in, what I love, and because taking on other genres just isn’t feasible at the moment due to time restraints.
Would you like to share any recent awards that made your day.
At the moment I’ve mostly received awards and acknowledgments for my writing. I’m still too new at being a cover artist and still have a lot to learn. What makes me happiest though is creating something for someone and knowing they’re happy with it. That for me is the best feeling. I’m always so nervous when I create something because I really want to do the best I can and make the person I’m creating for love what they’re getting.
How would a self-published author commission a cover?
If folks want to chat about eBook covers they can contact me via my website: http://charliecochet.com/contact or email me: Charlie@charliecochet.com
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Great question! I wish I could say I had it all planned out, but I don’t. Life is too unpredictable, so I do the best I can. I keep learning and growing, and most importantly, keep creating.
I just want to say thank you so much for having me, and thank you to the folks who’ve stopped by. It’s been a real treat!
Where to find Charlie: