The Making of a Book Cover 4.0

The seeds of the first three novels in the Boston Classics series were stories from my own past working as an actor in Boston in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but this one was different in that I pulled threads from all over the place – my experience as well as others’ and just the well of my imagination. Bella just kind of showed up in WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR as this mysterious character, someone who’d been on a soap but left it and was now auditioning for this little Shakespeare company (based very loosely on a friend’s experience working in daytime TV). Then in FORGET ABOUT ME she played the role of a boy servant onstage (I also played Speed in Two Gents) and Ben’s goofy pal offstage.

Her secrets started to build in my mind and as I was writing YOU SPIN ME, her past got clearer to me, and I figured out how she ended up a single mom. I couldn’t wait to write her story, but that of her hero, Henry was a bit more elusive.

Thankfully, I’m stubborn and I have good author pals, a great editor, and friends and family in my life who will listen to me yammer on about plot and character things I’m trying to figure out, so this book will finally be in reader’s hands December 1**… I actually just remembered this long, awkward but very useful conversation I had with my eldest daughter and her boyfriend about the various ways Bella and Henry’s “encounter” might’ve happened, and whether or not alcohol should be involved…

Anyhoo… back to the cover design.

I jumped the gun and spilled in an earlier blog about the visual inspiration for Bella and Henry, and you can see that here.

Like Puck in FORGET ABOUT ME, I knew that Bella’s daughter Lilah needed to be on this cover. The question was – what grouping of the three would communicate the layers of conflict between Bella and Henry regarding this little girl?

I found a lot of nice photos (some of which you’ll see in promo graphics for the book) but none that showed exactly what I was looking for. I sent them all to Lana, with the input that:

The little girl is a magnet that draws them together despite other tensions between them – they put her welfare first. I’m thinking that the couple might be walking away, looking over their shoulders like in the photo of the couple with the picnic basket, but perhaps with a bit more distance between them. We can see them in profile, her expression a little more wary, his can be more joyous.

Instead of the basket, the little girl could be doing the jumpy thing between them like in a couple of the photos below, but facing the other way, so we don’t see her face.

I also gave her some specifics regarding the season (summer) and fashion choices (preppy for him, casual/functional for her). She came up with the initial sketch below:

The character’s positions in this sketch didn’t have enough tension for me, and there were specifics about each character I wanted to include:

I think this needs a little more tension between the MC’s and now I’m questioning having them walking away because there’s too much focus on their butts 😑. Can you put the girl in the middle, facing away like she is, holding hands with both adults, and have them more in profile, looking at each other, upper bodies leaning away a bit? Also, can they all be wearing shorts and short sleeves? His shirt should have a collar, so it’s a bit preppy and conservative, and he could be wearing boat shoes with no socks. And can the girl have two pigtails (braids)?

He has a beard. He should be muscular and athletic. This is the guy I’ve modeled him on:

I so love this guy’s hair!

She should have less hair and straight hair, she should be thinner and taller, with longer legs. Alicia Baker is the actress I’ve modeled her on and I don’t think either of them should have a big smile:

And the very talented, even while dealing with migraines and her own writing deadlines (if you like fantasy romance, definitely check out her books! I’m working with her to get this series in audio right now) came up with this sketch and possible colors (or colours as she says!) as well as softening their expressions a tad (and assuring me that once there was colour their arses wouldn’t be as much in focus):

Concerned that this blue would clash with the WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR cover, I suggested green or orange…

While I liked both, the green felt more right for summer. I sent her the tagline and we were at the finish line!

I’d love to hear what you think! And I can’t wait to hear what you think of the final product:

for my Secret Baby, One Night Stand, Grumpy-Sunshine, Second Chance retro romcom…

PRE-ORDER IT NOW and get it December 1!

** If you want to help me spread the word or get an ARC to review, you can sign up here.

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