Monday, August 12, 2013

Burning Sky: the making of a cover

I've mentioned before how happy I am with the cover of Burning Sky. I remember well the moment I first saw Willa Obenchain's image, how stunned I was that the designer, Kristopher Orr (WaterBrook Multnomah), and the photographer, Mike Heath (Magnus Creative) had managed between them to create the perfect Willa, when I had spent years (off and on of course) keeping an eye out for photos of actors or models who matched my inner vision of Willa. To no avail. Eventually I resorted to one of those morphing sites, where you can combine faces to create a blend (then tinted her mismatched eyes pixel by pixel).

I know writers who wouldn't think of looking anywhere outside their heads for images of what their characters look like. And I know writers who find real people to base their character's physical traits on before they begin writing their stories. I fall somewhere between these extremes. No living person will ever perfectly match the image I have in my head of Willa, Neil, Joseph, Richard, Anni, Francis, Pine Bird and Owl, because I didn't base them off anyone living to begin with. But it's fun to keep an eye out for their faces in a crowd, or a movie or magazine. Maybe characters have their twins out there, somewhere.

And when a cover designer nails it... well lets just say the cover of Burning Sky is a huge part of this dream come true for me as a writer. Naturally I spent my fair share of time daydreaming about what my first book cover might look like. So I'm happy now to share with you a peek behind the scenes of Burning Sky's official cover journey. A huge thank you to Kristopher Orr for compiling the photos and writing the accompanying text! 

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What a journey.

This is a round one comp when the book was still titled Willa. The composite image has the foreground rock outcroppings with the Mohawk character standing on the ridge. 


I did a complete shoot of the model that never made it to the final. This isn’t uncommon. I changed the color of his shirt and added some historical musket elements. 

Still in flux about which shot of Willa to use...

 
Photographer Mike Heath did a stunning job shooting the model. This was all about capturing the moment when her expression and hair were in the right place.

There were a lot of fans blowing a lot of air!

We landed the final art early on, but then spent a long time tweaking things to get it right. At one point we diverted away entirely as seen on these comps at round 3. 

Sometimes the swiftest path to the final artwork is a long trek through the wilds of new ideas. One great thing about these comps are that they helped land us into the right color palette.

                       Almost the final art...                                           The final art!

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I hope you've enjoyed this peek into the journey of a book cover from the designer's point of view. Now I want to take a moment and thank Kristopher Orr for his talented work, his perseverance through so many possible versions, and for his openness in engaging me in conversation about this cover, clear back to August of 2012 when I visited WaterBrook Multnomah's offices and he described for me his vision of this cover. The finished art is remarkably close to what he described during that conversation, and I couldn't be happier that this image graces my first published story. 

Kristopher is also the cover designer for my second book, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn. I'm told this cover is having it's own interesting journey. I look forward to sharing it with you... sometime in 2014!

But for now... I have a copy here of Burning Sky that might just have your name on it. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think of the book's cover journey. To be eligible for the drawing you MUST leave your email address in the comment too, so I can contact you if you are the winner.
This one's for US residents only. I'll leave this drawing open until Thursday 9pm, Pacific Time, and announce the winner Friday the 16th.
Thanks for entering! Comments are now closed. I'll announce the winner tomorrow.

26 comments:

  1. Hi Lori, this is so interesting! Thanks for sharing the cover process. I recently shared mine on my blog too. I liked seeing all the steps. I am curious to know if you were in on it during the process or if you learned about all this after they had the final.
    Carrie

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    1. I'm always fascinated by the process of creating a book cover, and never pass up an opportunity to get a look when an author or publisher offers. In another life, I might have gone for being a book cover designer.

      My involvement was minimal in the creation of this cover. I was thankful to be included at all (since I never expected to be) from the first conversation I had with Kris and, in the months following, fulfilling his requests for setting, clothing, and character images that had inspired me or could be used for historical accuracy. My first glimpse of the cover was an earlier version of the "Almost Final Art" photo. It looked different in small ways, but Willa was as she appears in the final version, which was most important to me.

      Carrie, can you reply with a link to your cover post? I'd love to see it.

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  2. Wow I find the cover changes to be amazing ,, I never knew how this worked and hiw hard it must be to get the ONE you want in your book,,,,I LOVE IT Thank you for giving me a chace to win this book!!!!!!!

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    1. Karen, I'd love for you to enter. Please leave an email address so you will be eligible. Thanks!

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  3. I absolutely love the cover for Burning Sky and am so fascinated by the process behind it! Kristopher is such a great designer and the photos that Mike Heath created are so stunning. This cover is a winner and I cannot wait to see what they do for TPOTLJ!

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    1. Thanks Joanne! Me too. :) I don't suppose an author ever gets over the mix of anticipation and nervousness waiting to see her next cover?

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  4. Anonymous8:04 AM

    They say don't judge a book by it's cover, but I do all the time! If a cover looks good, the book must be good also, and this one looks good!! mweber@suddenlink.net

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  5. Don't enter me in the drawing as I already have the book and loved it. :) I think the cover they settled on was definitely the right one. I do like the first cover when it was titled Willa, but even that one is very similar to the final. The other two concepts either didn't capture the importance of the land to the story or made it seem a bit too lighthearted. Amazing job done there!

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    1. I've actually seen few more possibles than those Kris provided for this post. There were so many directions he might have gone, and some of them I really liked, but I'm in full agreement. Where they landed is just right.

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  6. Lori, I love the cover of Burning Sky! How interesting to learn how it comes about. Do the designer and/or photographer read the story to get a feel for the character they are creating? The final image conjures to mind, vividly, what I just read about Willa pausing at each bend in her path, for whom might be following. I LOVED that part. No need to enter me for the drawing as I'm already enjoying. :)

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    1. Kris definitely reads the manuscript, pre-edited. I've never had personal contact with the photographer, so I don't know in his case. I think it unlikely, as at that early stage they would be careful not to release the unedited story to anyone not in-house. Of course, I don't know this for certain!

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  7. I think I might have accidentally posted a comment with my sister's account! But she's begun enjoying Burning Sky also, so I guess that's okay. :) Anyway, this is so cool--thank you for sharing the journey of your cover with us, Lori! I find these so fascinating.

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    1. Thanks, Kiersti. Good to see you here. I'm endlessly fascinated with this process too.

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  8. Thank you so much for sharing this! That original cover design was very interesting, but I do love the how the final design turned out. :) Definitely a fascinating process! I had the privilege of brainstorming with my cover designer (Lena Goldfinch), and it was definitely interesting to see the ideas we started out with, and how different they were from where we ended up. :) Lena is such a blast to work with and so talented, and I love the work she did! Covers are definitely exciting!

    Anyway, please don't enter me in the giveaway, as I have an ARC of your book I previously won that I really need to start soon! I'm looking forward to it - it sounds so good. :)

    ~Amber

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    1. Happy reading! I do hope you enjoy the story. Getting any input at all on a cover is something I never expected, but I think it's the one thing aside from the writing that fascinates me most. That's lovely that you got to contribute ideas for your book cover.

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    2. I'm thinking I will enjoy it! :) Will share my review when I'm done!

      And the cover-making process fascinates me, too. :) I'm self-published, so I think I had a lot more leeway and control in the finalizing process than those who are traditionally published... Of course, traditional publishers have other benefits to offer! Both paths have their pros and cons, I think. :)

      Can't wait to hear more about your next book!

      ~Amber

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  9. I think that the book's cover journey was neat. But I have to say that I was kind of drawn to the cover of her holding the rifle. I didn't realize that, that much work went into desgining a cover. The storyline of the novel sounds awesome can not wait to read the novel.

    Carissa
    belovedgraceful(at)bellsouth(dot)net

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    1. Carissa, a lot of work goes into it, into the whole interior design for that matter. Lots of elements to bear in mind like mood, atmosphere, setting, some sense of story. I like to see those elements in a cover even more than the characters, and I think Burning Sky's cover reflects those elements well.

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  10. I love love love book covers, so it goes without saying that I love reading about the work that goes into them. I can't help admitting that the first cover "Willa" is a real toss-up for first place between it and the final cover for me. They are both stunning. Still would love to have this book on my shelf, right there beside Morrow, Roxie, and Lael. ;)

    By the way, may I add your Willa cover to my Pinterest board "Book Cover Art" as a pre-final concept design? I will give credit to Kristopher Orr and Mike Heath, and of course you. :)

    road_to_avonlea_17(at)yahoo(dot)com

    Whitney

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    1. Let me ask Kris about pinning that early cover, and I'll get back to you.

      Willa would love the company of Morrow, Roxie, and Lael! :)

      I like a lot of Kris's early designs too.

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    2. Oh, and Eden! Hehe. She's not there yet, but I'll nab that book up too.

      Thanks for asking Kris! I would just about hang posters of book covers on my walls for artwork.

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    3. Whitney, Kris said it would be fine if you want to pin that early "Willa" comp. And thanks for asking first! :)

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  11. Thanks, Lori. It is up on Pinterest (and you can bet it'll get repinned ;) ) and looks beautiful. Can't help noticing all the five-star reviews Burning Sky is getting over at amazon.com. :)

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  12. I can't believe how many times I've come and visited and forgot to comment! I blame age and brainlessness...

    I love, LOVE seeing the process involved in getting just the right cover!! It must be so fun to create such beauty.

    Soooo, if Tames His Horse gets a cover...he's not going to be stuck in a suit, right?

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    1. I can't say as I've ever pictured him in coat, waistcoat and breeches. :) That's meant to be him (I think), in that early comp. Only his head is shaved. I had him grow his hair out before we meet him in Burning Sky.

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