Monday, July 22, 2013

Whispers on the Prairie by Vickie McDonough ends 7/29


Vickie McDonough is an award-winning author of 27 books and novellas. Her novels include the fun and feisty Texas Boardinghouse Brides series and Long Trail Home and End of the Trail in the Texas Trails series. Long Trail Home won the Inspirational category of the 2012 Booksellers’ Best Awards. Whispers on the Prairie, the first book in the Pioneer Promises series has just released.  

Please welcome a dear friend my partner ;o) on Christian Fiction Historical Society, Vickie McDonough. Vickie is graciously giving away her wonderful new release so be sure to leave a comment to be entered. Tell us if the final cover is your favorite. And if it isn't tell us which one is and why.
The Making of a Book Cover

By Vickie McDonough

Everyone loves a great book cover, but an odd cover can make us pause and wonder what the author was thinking when he/she requested it. But the truth of the matter is that most authors have little input on cover designs, which is generally decided by the sales, marketing, and/or art departments. The amount of input an author has usually depends on the publishing house they write for and how well-known the author’s name is.

Most publishers will have the author fill out an art sheet which includes descriptions of the main characters, the setting, theme or faith element, a special feature that is key to the story, such as the covered wagon that appears on my covers below. The publisher also sometimes want to know the key plot points and will request photos that represent your characters and/or settings.

I asked Becky, who works in the art department of Whitaker House how they go about choosing a book cover design, and here’s what she said:

    “I get the book title and the art sheet, and after looking over character descriptions and a blurb about the story line, I hit up stock photo sites to see if I can find images that fit the descriptions or decide if I will need to get models in to do a photo shoot. While looking through countless photos I am thinking of designs and how I want the book to look, taking into account if it is a stand alone book or part of a series. If it is a series, how am I going to keep the books the same so they will look like they belong together. At some point during my photo search I will either find a picture that I will work around or I will come up with an idea that I want to do and then must find just the right picture to make it all come
together. Follow all this searching is some Photoshop magic, and a cover is born.
    “That is how my technical process is done, as for the creative
process, that is much harder to explain. I have heard authors describing
how their characters do not behave for them and rebel against where the
author wants them to go in the story progression. I can relate to that
with what I do as well. At times I can sit down and a cover just flows
from me, and at other times I fight with one all day long and try to get
the image in my head out onto paper.
    “I also do a lot of research, as well, looking at books in the same genre to
see what others are doing--if there are growing trends or fading trends. I
love walking through book stores to see all the covers and what catches my
eye vs. what makes me think "why did you do that?!"
    “After I create 1-2 covers, along with the other designers here doing the same, the covers are all taken into a cover committee meeting and a winner is
chosen. From that point, it is given to the author to see if any tweaks
are needed, until a final is agreed upon.”

I appreciate Becky sharing her expertise with us and giving us a peak into the cover design process. I thought you might also enjoy seeing the development of the cover design for my new release, Whispers on the Prairie.
The Making of a Book Cover

By Vickie McDonough

Everyone loves a great book cover, but an odd cover can make us pause and wonder what the author was thinking when he/she requested it. But the truth of the matter is that most authors have little input on cover designs, which is generally decided by the sales, marketing, and/or art departments. The amount of input an author has usually depends on the publishing house they write for and how well-known the author’s name is.

Most publishers will have the author fill out an art sheet which includes descriptions of the main characters, the setting, theme or faith element, a special feature that is key to the story, such as the covered wagon that appears on my covers below. The publisher also sometimes want to know the key plot points and will request photos that represent your characters and/or settings.

I asked Becky, who works in the art department of Whitaker House how they go about choosing a book cover design, and here’s what she said:

    “I get the book title and the art sheet, and after looking over character descriptions and a blurb about the story line, I hit up stock photo sites to see if I can find images that fit the descriptions or decide if I will need to get models in to do a photo shoot. While looking through countless photos I am thinking of designs and how I want the book to look, taking into account if it is a stand alone book or part of a series. If it is a series, how am I going to keep the books the same so they will look like they belong together. At some point during my photo search I will either find a picture that I will work around or I will come up with an idea that I want to do and then must find just the right picture to make it all come
together. Follow all this searching is some Photoshop magic, and a cover is born.
    “That is how my technical process is done, as for the creative
process, that is much harder to explain. I have heard authors describing
how their characters do not behave for them and rebel against where the
author wants them to go in the story progression. I can relate to that
with what I do as well. At times I can sit down and a cover just flows
from me, and at other times I fight with one all day long and try to get
the image in my head out onto paper.
    “I also do a lot of research, as well, looking at books in the same genre to
see what others are doing--if there are growing trends or fading trends. I
love walking through book stores to see all the covers and what catches my
eye vs. what makes me think "why did you do that?!"
    “After I create 1-2 covers, along with the other designers here doing the same, the covers are all taken into a cover committee meeting and a winner is
chosen. From that point, it is given to the author to see if any tweaks
are needed, until a final is agreed upon.”

I appreciate Becky sharing her expertise with us and giving us a peak into the cover design process. I thought you might also enjoy seeing the development of the cover design for my new release, Whispers on the Prairie.

Version 1: This is the first cover that my publishing house, Whitaker House, presented me. Overall, I really liked the design. The color combination was different, I loved the title fonts and the curlicues around my name. The wagon looked good too. The thing that I didn’t feel fit my historical story was the heroine. Her hairstyle and dress looked too contemporary, especially the sleeveless blouse.


 







Version 2: The second cover was better. The long sleeves more accurately portrayed the 1800s time period, but the heroine’s hairstyle still didn’t, and her reading a book really has nothing to do with the storyline, so I gulped and asked for a different heroine.



 
 Version 3: Whispers on the Prairie was purchased last fall as an already completed book. My publisher wanted to release it in time for the International Christian Retailers Show in late June. Since there wasn’t time to hire a model and do photo shoots, they used stock photos. They kindly allowed me to search the photo sites they use, and I found a picture of the blond woman smelling a flower. This worked perfectly for my storyline since flowers are something both my hero and heroine love. The dress was a good match for the time period, even though it was white, and the hairstyle also looked historical.


Version 4: I could have easily lived with cover #3, but there was one more change I requested—that the back of the wagon be pink. In Whispers on the Prairie, Ethan, my hero, helps city folk get outfitted to travel the Santa Fe Trail. Instead of taking his advice and picking the sturdy wagon Ethan advises, my heroine suggests a red faded wagon to her uncle because it’s bigger and will hold more. The “pink” wagon is a symbol to my hero of the heroine’s stubbornness and a bone of contention between them. I wanted the colored wagon reflected on the cover, because it was an important issue, and I though it might intrigue buyers. I didn’t quite end up with a pink wagon, but close enough. I want the thank the folks at Whitaker House for working with me to create a lovely cover for Whispers on the Prairie.
So, what do you think? Do you like the final cover best or one of the others? Be honest. You won’t hurt my feelings, because they’re all nice.

 Contact Vickie: Website: www.vickiemcdonough.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VickieMcDonough Twitter: https://twitter.com/vickiemcdonough Visit her website to sign up for her mailing list and keep up on all of Vickie’s book news.

DOUBLE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING by following my blog with Powered by FEEDBURNER on the right, and don't miss any giveaways (the button with the flame). If you already follow my blog go ahead and follow by FEEDBURNER so you can be entered twice. If you're not getting an email telling you I have a new giveaway you're not following through Feedburner. Just mention that you follow through Feedburner when you leave a comment with each giveaway and you'll be entered twice.

Be sure to leave your email address. Please check your junk mail on and the day after the drawing. I've had to redraw because of no responses. Subject box will have: winner of (book title). I'll email the winner and they'll have seven days to respond. If I don't hear back I'll draw another name. USA shipping only. Thanks so much and please stop back again! Drawing will be held Monday, July 29th at 8:00 A.M. EST. Offer void where prohibited. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

50 comments:

  1. I love Version 4--the final cover. I thought your reasons for tweaking the original Versions 1-3 were very logical and made sense. The pink on the wagon grabs my attention. Because it's unusual, it catches my eye.
    may_dayzee (at) yahoo (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kay! I was really hoping the "pink" wagon would intrigue buyers.

      Delete
    2. Hey Kay! I liked 4 too. I kept wondering if I would think to have the things changed that Vickie did. She did a great job.

      Delete
  2. I liked Version 3 but after reading your explanation I can understand why you picked 4 and since that is the only difference, the color of the wagon, I like it too, lol.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Wendy! Version 3 would have been fine with me, but I'm glad that my publisher agreed to the "pink" wagon.

      Delete
  3. I like the final version but I also like version 2 where the lady is reading the book. Thank you for the chance to win

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Angela.

      Delete
    2. Hey Angela. I thought that was really cool too. But it wasn't really part of the story so I see why Vickie had them take it out.

      Delete
  4. I do like the final version...thanks for sharing.

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

    ps: i'm a follower, too ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karen, thanks for dropping by today!

      Delete
    2. Thanks for coming by, Karen. Good luck!

      Delete
  5. I like 3 & 4. If I hadn't read the book, I'm not sure I would even think about the pick wagon. Guess I'm not very observant!

    pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The wagon does blend with the other purple on the cover, so I can see where someone might miss it. Thanks, Patty.

      Delete
    2. LOL. Sometimes I miss stuff like that too.

      Delete
  6. I like book 4, as I love flowers too, but I also like book 2 with a book in her hand (love books also) and a dress that looks historical as well. I had no idea all the work it takes to get a cover put together - thank you for that insight! I have always wondered how an author arrives at the covers they pick.

    A pink wagon back in that day was probably not a common color - or faded red, but I think it is neat that she had something to set herself apart from the other wagons and no doubt helped the hero know where she was.

    Thank you Vicki for sharing about how your cover came together and the process it takes - I enjoyed it! Thank you also for the giveaway!

    May God Bless your writing,

    Lori

    triplel(at)evertek(dot)net
    I am a follower.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lori,

      I agree that a pink covered wagon was too popular back then, but many wagons like buckboards were painted. Green was a popular color.

      Delete
    2. Hey Lori,Thanks for coming by and sharing with us.

      Delete
  7. Yes, I like the final version, and the effort to stay true to the context of the novel. And thanks for the giveaway!

    bcrug(at)myfairpoint(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too. Sometimes it's hard to get a cover that fits the book. One of my covers had a hero who looked smaller than the heroine. Sigh.

      Delete
    2. Hey Connie. Thank you for coming by. Good luck in the drawing!

      Delete
  8. I definitely like the final version the best. Thanks for the giveaway!
    samanthaakuiper(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your input, Samantha!

      Delete
    2. Thanks for coming by, Samantha! It seems that we have a favorite! :o)

      Delete
  9. I love knowing what goes into choosing a cover. There certainly are ones I see and think "why on earth did they do that?".
    I really do like 4 the best after hearing why the wagon is pink/faded red. I did like the girl reading the book one, but didn't like the fact her hair wasn't exactly "historical". :)
    farmygirl at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Susan. I probably could have lived with cover two if her hair had been different.

      Delete
    2. Hey Susan, Thanks for coming by. I thought it was really interesting in seeing what goes into a cover!

      Delete
  10. I really like the cover on the final version the best. Whispers on the Prairie sounds like a great book. Thanks for the giveaway.

    Katie J.
    johnsonk133{at}yahoo{dot}com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katie it is an awesome book! I love Vickie's writing. If you don't win the book you really should buy it.

      Delete
  11. I do like version 4 best. If I hadn't read of the significance of the pink wagon, version 3 would have been just as good. I totally agree that the models in the first two versions don't fit; they look too contemporary
    It's great you were allowed to have so much input for the cover. I've heard authors say they really don't have much say, so some of the covers they don't really care for.
    It's important to have a well written, entertaining story, but if the cover is bland, most of us won't even pick it up to find out more.
    Thanks for the giveaway and for giving us this insight into the making of a book cover.

    pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck in the giveaway and thanks for coming by! I agree about the hair styles in 1 and 2 but also they were blonds. Very blond and the heroine is a red head.

      Delete
  12. I totally agree, Pam. Some publishers allow their authors a lot of input while others don't, so you really can't blame the authors--not that you did.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Final version is the best by far! Of course that is just my opinion but I love it!

    Blessings!
    Judy B
    judyjohn2004(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heehee! Your opinion is one that is carried by the majority. I think Vickie did an awesome job.

      Delete
  14. Thanks, Judy! I appreciate your opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Love the pink wagon of #4 but I also love the reading heroine of #2. This looks like a terrific read. Congrats on another gorgeous book!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Beautiful book, Vickie. I could have gone with #1 or #4. So glad you were able to have input on changing the wagon color. I use to work hiring freelance cover designers, years ago, at David C. Cook and loved their creativity. Would love to win your book. teshaw(at)sbcglobal(dot)net.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Throwing your name in the hat, Tammie. Thanks for coming by. Very cool that you used to do the hiring for cover designers!

      Delete
    2. Thanks for you input, Tammie. Yes, it was good to have input and a cover that I'm happy with.

      Delete
  17. I like the last one. It is more in keeping with the time period.
    janet estridge
    von1janet(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for coming by, Janet. Vickie did a great job with staying with her book and the time period of it.

      Delete
    2. I totally agree, Janet. Thanks for your comment!

      Delete
  18. Very interesting! Thanks to you and your publisher, Vickie, for allowing us this inside view. : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Erin. It is cool to have the pictures and to be able to share them.

      Delete
  19. It was fun learning what all went into the covers. And so nice for the authors who are allowed to give input in them! Thanks for coming by, Erin.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I LOVE the pink wagon!!! I am so glad you were able to change it to pink to match the story! It looks great! I love it when book covers match the story! Please enter me for the giveaway! Thank you!
    Bee
    bee_0f_82(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  21. Also if you are doing a series with this you could change the girl with each story and change the color of the wagon to keep the covers alike. Green and yellow would be good colors for the next ones! :)
    Bee

    ReplyDelete