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So after telling you about the process of writing a novel, I promised to talk about cover art. How does a publisher get that sucker all spiffed up and ready for the bookstore?

Oh, so carefully. Most publishers have an entire dedicated art department whose sole purpose is book design–the image, the fonts, endpapers, you name it.

Back when I was self-publishing, I designed my own.

bringing you bad books since the age of 8

bringing you bad books since the age of 8

p10603411

Art was not my forte, clearly.

Book cover art is the topic of endless and passionate debate among writers and people in publishing.

Because it matters so freakin’ much. It’s the reader’s first glimpse of your work. You’ve got a split second to grab her attention. And in that split second, you have to convey that a) this is YOUR kind of book and b) it’s a particularly great read and c) she should just ignore all those other books on the shelf nearby that are vying for attention.

How does a book get from the mess on my living room floor…

Barkis is bored. He just doesn't get it.

Barkis is bored. He just doesn’t get it.

…into the reader’s hands?

Buy a book from Wendy!

You need not just a beautiful cover, but the RIGHT cover. For example, this cover is beautiful:

Where's the romance?

Where’s the romance?

…but it doesn’t scream “sweep-you-away-historical-romance” the way this one does:

Sexy tiiime!

Sexy tiiime!

The Drifter reissue

They’re all nicely done, but guess which one sold the best? Yep, the one that looked the most romantic, dramatic and compelling to the reader most likely to enjoy that kind of book.

After the original edition of The Drifter was published, the art department took another look at what my books were about and what my readers love–romance, fantasy, passion. So my next book, THE CHARM SCHOOL, went through a major transformation. Here is the cover-in-progress:

I sent my editor a little thumbnail image from a book of clipart. I just thought it was pretty. The main character was a bookworm with a rich fantasy life, and this image made me think of her:

Clip art that inspired The Charm School cover

Thanks to my very smart editor, she got this sketch out of the art department, and I knew we had a winner on our hands:

sketch for Charm School cover

I was hoping it would turn into a pink valentine of a book because, well, we readers love pink valentines. And Lo:

Now, THAT's a cover.

Now, THAT’s a cover.

Flowers, purple foil, generous endorsement from iconic romance author. It even had a peek-a-boo window with a glimpse at the illustration inside. And although the real Isadora looked like this:

Isadora, the main character of THE CHARM SCHOOL

Isadora, the main character of THE CHARM SCHOOL

…she got a makeover for the cover art. This image is inside the front cover. It’s known as a “step-back.”

ready for action

ready for action

I’m proud to say, The Charm School was my first national bestseller. The book got good reviews, won some awards, made some best-of lists, but I credit the sales to the right cover on the right book. 

Oh, and here–with apologies to the redoubtable Erik Larson–is my nomination for the worst book cover ever. On one of the best books, ever.

Foreign edition of Erik's iconic work, Devil in the White City, with unfortunate cover art.

Foreign edition of Erik’s iconic work, Devil in the White City, with unfortunate cover art.

I had such fun with these interview questions. The original post is here

6 things readers should know about you:
1. I’m just like them–always looking for a wonderful juicy novel to savor.
2. I have a horror of being trapped somewhere boring without a book to read.
3. I believe that creating a nation of readers will transform our country.
4. When it comes to my personal life and family, I give it my all, every day.
5. When it comes to my career, I hustle. Every. Single. Day.
6. I look just like my author photo.

What would you say are the defining characteristic of your Novels?
Um, the awesome author photo?

5 best things about being a writer?
1. The author photo is my greatest work of fiction.
2. My commute is from the couch to the computer.
3. My work uniform is a bathrobe, fuzzy slippers, headphones and mug of coffee.
4. My readers touch my heart with the notes they send and post on Facebook and other sites.
5. If somebody treats me mean, they could end up dead in one of my books.

What romance book character you most identify with & Why?
Isadora in THE CHARM SCHOOL. She is smart, dorky, awkward and endearing…and modeled after yrs truly.

About the Book: The Apple Orchard
If you had to summarize the book for the readers here ….
Sisters, secrets, and surprises. One of my favorite reviews, spotted here: http://readfulthingsblog.com/2013/03/18/the-apple-orchard-by-susan-wiggs/ gives this summary. It’s the kind of review all authors dream about: “OH IT WAS HEAVEN! I wanted to stay wrapped up in this book forever. This is the kind of novel that fills your heart and soul with warmth and makes you just feel good! The recipes are to die for as well.
“This novel has one of the most beautiful opening chapters that I have ever seen. The descriptions of the landscape are so vivid and alive that you can almost smell the apples and hear the buzz of the honeybees. Immediately I was drawn in to this story and never lost interest throughout the entire book.
“The cast of characters in this novel are the kind of people that you don’t want to forget. They are such an inviting family with so much rich history and compassion for one another that I almost felt, in some ways while I was reading this I had returned home to visit my own family.”

What scene did you have most fun writing? why?
Chapter 11. Hands down. Right after the epigraph page and recipe for Julekake right before Part Seven. It’s the first scene I wrote of the novel and it stuck with me through every draft. Nothing says “page turner” better than a peaceful family Christmas in Denmark, disrupted by Nazi stormtroopers. Okay, maybe it wasn’t “fun.” It’s very dark. But riveting. I hope I did it justice.

Who would who cast in the role of hero and heroine if your book was optioned for a movie?
Tess Delaney needs to be played by that intense, driven redhead in ZERO DARK THIRTY. Ummm, what’s her name? Jessica Chastain! Thank you Wikipedia!
Dominic Rossi is tall, dark and Italian. Your readers are going to have to help me out. Tell them to post their suggestions on my FaceBook page. I don’t get out enough, clearly. 

What are you currently working on?
Working title is THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL. It’s #2 in the Bella Vista Chronicles, because I just had to write about Isabel, the sister from THE APPLE ORCHARD.

What other releases so you have planned for 2013?
CANDLELIGHT CHRISTMAS, which will be in stores October 1. It’s Lakeshore Chronicles #10, and it’s crazy fun. A single dad does Christmas. Among other things.

Where can readers get in touch with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susanwiggs and on Twitter I’m @SusanWiggs.

Join me on Facebook. You won’t be sorry.

I tend to spontaneously give stuff away to readers and libraries. Join the fun here. Really.

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