By the Book

where a love of God and good books meet

Category: cover design

What I’m Reading: Great River Romance Series

Don’t judge a book by its cover. We’ve heard it a million times. We get the deeper meaning. What is on the outside can be misleading. We need to dig deeper to what’s inside. Often we find ourselves surprised at what we find. It’s an awesome message to remind us to give others a chance when an unpleasant demeanor might otherwise turn us off to a person.

I have a feeling, the origins of the phrase really did have something to do with judging literal books as worthless simply because their covers were less appealing. I get that. I’ve walked past many books without a second glance because I’m not drawn to their covers. What’s inside may be the most amazing story ever written, but it will take a name I recognize or someone else giving a great review for me to look beyond the unattractive cover and pick it from the shelf. Authors and publishers understand this. To draw people back to a good story, they occasionally update covers to keep them fresh and relatable for the current generation.

A well-done cover can wield more power than a title, drawing the eye and creating an immediate emotional connection with a reader. A great cover paired with an equally catchy title is a match made in book sales heaven. If the words between the covers spark as much interest in the reader, you’ve just created a repeat reader. That’s what happened when I first saw the Great River Romance series by Kari Trumbo.

I began with Whole Latte Love. It was on sale, and I loved the cover. I’m also a sucker for titles with cute plays on words. With the cover, title, and sale price working in its favor, I took a chance. I’m glad I did. My days are filled with the stress and frustrations of being a caregiver to my elderly grandmother who has dementia. I needed a story I could enjoy while staying away from heavy subjects that would weigh down my mind.

Whole Latte Love was the perfect choice. It was easy enough and interesting enough to read it straight through.  I stayed up later than I should have the night I read it, but I’m not complaining. The story left me with a positive, rested feeling. And I was ready for more.

Want Ad Wonder, Check out Crush, and Central Park Paradise were added to my online cart the next morning. All four books have coordinating covers, but Want Ad Wonder is my favorite. It is the cover that first brought Kari Trumbo and the Great River Romance series to my attention.  I love the colors, and there is something about the guy on the cover that I found more interesting than the ones on the other three. Maybe it’s because you see more of his face, get a little more of his character from the picture.

I didn’t take time analyze the whys. I had three more stories to read. Building off characters introduced in the previous books, each one focused on a specific couple or possible couple with former lead characters making reappearances in each book. The threads of friendship tie each of these books together making their stories more enticing for the readers.

The last three books in the series were as enjoyable as the first, from front cover to last page. I found these books when I needed a light escape from the daily grind, and they were the perfect choice. I judged these books by the covers, and I’m glad I did. The covers are a perfect match for the stories told inside.

By the Book: We encourage each other to look beyond the rough exteriors to what lies inside, but in our own lives we should strive to be better. Scripture tells us what we hold in our hearts is what comes out in our lives. When the Holy Spirit has control, it’s His fruit we should see in the way we live each day. What does your outer life say about what you truly value? Does what you say you believe show in your daily life? Every day in every way we want others to be able to judge our book by its cover.

Write Stuff Wednesday: An Interview

2f8c97e9-014e-4796-9373-22b108cebe0eUsually I post a quote on Wednesday, but today I had the opportunity to participate in an interview. This interview had some really great questions, and I thought I would share them with you.

I want to thank Elisabeth Trainor for thinking of me for her 5th grade research project on becoming an author. It was my pleasure to help out. I hope your project is a success!

What are some of the responsibilities you have at your job?

My main responsibility as an author is to write, whether it’s the next book I’m working on or something for my blog. I’m also responsible for promoting my books. This includes doing interviews, being a guest on other blogs, participating in book signings, speaking to groups, and creating images to post on social media that tell others about my books.

Is this the job you went to college for?

I know several writers who went to school to get degrees in English or creative writing. While I’ve taken several courses and attended workshops to help make me a better writer and increase my knowledge about the business aspects of writing, my course of study in college was psychology. But even that aids me as a writer by giving me additional insight into personalities to help me create more realistic characters.

What are some of the best things about your job?

I love creating new people and places for the readers to connect with. I have always loved stories, and now I get to create them for others. As a Christian author, I love that God has given me a way to encourage other believers through something that I am passionate about. Plus, I can work at the time of day that is best for me. And if I want I can do the writing part of my job in comfy clothes!

What are some of the worst things about your job?

I don’t know that there is any part of being an author that I don’t like. There are parts of it that are more difficult for me. I’m not a math person, but working for myself I have to be responsible for the tax information our state requires. That is definitely not fun. To help promote my book, I have to learn new computer programs or apps. I’m not proficient with a lot of these things, and that makes using them frustrating until I get used to them. I also have to talk about myself and my writing. As a fairly introverted person, this is very uncomfortable for me. But I’m getting better at it.

Why did you choose to be an author?

Reading has always been one of my favorite hobbies. Each book introduced me to new friends and places I’d never visited. The stories I read would show me new perspectives and ideas I hadn’t thought about before. As I got older and read more faith based fiction, I found a lot of truth in the stories that I read. The people the authors created encouraged me and challenged me to grow as a person and as a Christian. I came away from the best books I read excited and wanting to create that same experience for others.

Where is the most comfortable spot you like to write at?

I have a comfy chair in my office. It faces a large window that looks out over the field behind my house and the woods beyond the field. It’s a very quiet, peaceful scene. When the weather is cool enough, I like to open the window, look out, and write with the fresh air coming into the room.

What inspires you to write?

Overall, I think the reason I wanted to be an author is what inspires me to do it. But there are people and things that continue to keep me focused and encouraged. I believe God gave me this ability and passion, and He inspires me to write in ways that will allow others to know Him more. I still find inspiration when I read a really good book. It leaves me anxious to get back to work on my own stories. When I’m feeling less motivated to write, I have a local writer’s group and friends that encourage me to get back to it. They help me work through what’s holding me back and cheer me on when things are going well.

Do you write non-fiction or fiction?

My books are fiction. They are set in the real town I grew up in, but the people and situations are all from my imagination. My blog posts are non-fiction. They are all about writing, reading, and living a life of faith. One day, I’d like to have devotional books that pair up with each fiction book I write. Those will be non-fiction as well.

Who is your favorite author and why?

My favorite non-fiction author is Sheila Walsh. Her books deal with the real issues that come up in living a life of faith, and she handles each one with honesty and openness. It’s nice to know someone isn’t just telling you something from theory but instead from a life that’s lived it out.

My favorite fiction author is Kristen Heitzmann. Her stories draw me in. She’s an amazing story-teller, and I come away feeling like I’ve been visiting with friends. The messages in her stories have helped me with things I’ve gone through in my own life. I got to meet her once, and she is also a very kind and encouraging individual.

How did your book get published?

After I completed the manuscript, I researched publishers and agents. A lot of publishers won’t take new authors without getting the material from an agent. So, I had to approach both. I sent out several query letters explaining the story and why I was qualified to write it. I also had to give them information on my writing training, accomplishments, and how I could help market my books.  I got rejection slips. Most authors do. But I kept sending it out. Authors need to learn how to persevere.

Mantle Rock Publishing accepted the manuscript, and I signed a contract with them. The book had to be sent to them for edits. As I completed them, I sent it back. Their cover designer worked on designing the perfect cover for my book while I was busy editing. Then, with the edits done and the cover design approved, the publisher sent it to the people who would make it into the actual book in time for the release date. I will never forget the first time I held my finished book in my hands. I’m blessed to have this job.

Cover Reveal – Grasping Hope

I know it’s not one of my usual days for posting, but I was too excited to wait. I received the cover design for Grasping Hope today and had to share it with you. I hope you love it as much as I do!

grasping hope cover

Cover to Cover – Part One

Usually you find a book review/devotion or a writer’s life/devotion on By the Book each Wednesday and Saturday. For the Cover to Cover series, we’re going a deeper into the process that takes an author’s manuscript and turns it into the book you purchase. Of course, we aren’t going to neglect the spiritual either. So, you’ll come away with a greater appreciation for the publishing world and some spiritual encouragement too.

Diane-headshot

Today we welcome Diane Turpin.

Diane Turpin is the cover designer for Mantle Rock Publishing and her own company, Diane Turpin Designs. Since 2014, she has created book covers in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, suspense and most recently, fantasy. She is the wife of a professional Boy Scout and mom of a musical daughter. In her spare time, she sharpens her crafty skills with watercolor painting and sewing.

 

  1. What prompted you to get involved in designing book covers?

My mother. Doesn’t it always start with your mother? Mom formed Mantle Rock Publishing and had published a couple of books before asking me to design covers for her. I was very active in the digital scrapbook world and had all the skills needed to create covers. I had used Photoshop extensively with digital scrapbooking and also at a previous job in a printing shop.

  1. How do you decide the best way to portray a book in its cover design?

Actually, it comes mostly from questions I ask the author. I want the author to have a cover they are proud of, so I ask them what book covers they are most attracted to. I match those responses to what genre they have written in and start from there.

  1. What do you feel a well-designed cover does for a book? How important is the cover to the book?

A well-designed cover says, “This book is worth your time investment to read it.” It should look intriguing enough to make the reader want to read it without telling the whole story. It sets up the framework for the reader to know what they are reading, whether it’s location, mood, era, romance, mystery, and so on. I think, next to a well-written book, it’s the most important thing…wink!

  1. Writers get writer’s block. Do you get cover designer’s block? How do you get over it?

YES! Especially when it’s the first cover I’ve done for an author. It’s hard for me to judge you from a questionnaire and a few emails. So, I worry that the direction I’m headed may not suit your style. After all, I want the cover to portray your writing, not necessarily my design style. Sometimes I get stumped. What do I do to get over it…usually, I do watercolor painting. It helps me get my creative juices flowing in a different direction to get the spark I need to finish up a cover.

  1. Authors have compared writing to childbirth and the finished product to their children. Do you feel that kind of connection to the books you’ve designed for?

Sure, but it’s more like kids I’m adopting out. LOL. I do have covers that I’m prouder of than others, mostly first covers or covers where I really stepped it up a notch.

  1. Is there one cover that stands out to you as a favorite?

Irish Encounter by Hope Dougherty is one that stands out because I worried about it so much. I don’t remember if she wanted her main character featured or not, but I couldn’t find anything that resembled her character in clothing that was appropriate – she’s a middle-aged lady traveling in Ireland. I stepped out and went with my gut and the cover turned out great. It was one of my first covers, and I’m still proud of it.

Not What He Ordered by Laurean Brooks for a totally different reason. I met Laurean in person before I did her cover. In fact, we were at two retreats together, so I knew how funny and silly she was. We had so much fun creating her cover just because of our friendship. I also went out and photographed a historic train depot or two to add to her cover. After I got the depot on the cover, I realized I had to remove all the electrical conduit and light fixtures from the building. I had thought about the light fixtures when I took the picture, but the conduit was painted to match the siding and didn’t really jump out at me until I started working with the picture in Photoshop. All that hard work really endeared that cover to me.

When people ask, what my favorite cover is, it’s usually the last one I created. And just like your kids, I love them all.

  1. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about your designing process?

I work primarily from stock photographs. I enjoy hunting for the perfect images to combine into a cover. Some covers, like the cover of Faith’s Journey, only take a couple of images to portray the right mood. Other covers, like Aimee by Pam Harris or Keeper of the Flame by Mary Kay Tuberty, take multiple photos in layers to get the perfect final image. My goal is for it to look so natural that you have a hard time picking out the individual photos that created the image. A Light At Bailey’s Harbor by Bethany Baker has clothing from one model, face from a second model and hair from a third. Not to mention that I created the sign for the title. It truly is more than just finding the right photo and adding some text. It’s setting a mood or evoking a feeling that gets you ready to read the story.

Special thanks to Diane Turpin for taking time out of her busy schedule to give us insight into the process of designing book covers. You can find out more about Diane at dianeturpindesigns.com.

By the Book: I love what Diane said, “It’s setting a mood or evoking a feeling that gets you ready to read the story.” Comment below on some of your favorite cover designs. While you’re at it, I’ve included some of my favorite Diane Turpin designs and pictures of the two she mentioned. Which of these are your favorites?My Favorite

Diane's Favorites

Life Designed

Faiths JourneyFrom the first word to the last period, authors pour creative energy, time, and mental ability into each scene. They know their characters intimately, making relinquishing their work to an editor difficult. Beloved scenes could be drastically changed. Even waiting for cover designs can be brutal.

Creating characters and places from nothing, writers can tell you the backstory of each character even if it doesn’t end up in the book. They know what events shaped their characters’ behaviors. They have detailed physical images for each one in their minds. The writer knows every hair, freckle, and physical habit of their characters. Turning them over to the cover designer can bring on a case of nerves.

Will the designer understand the feeling of the story? Was the character described well enough to create the correct mental picture in the designer’s mind? Will the designer be able to create an image that draws prospective readers to pick the book up off the shelf?

A well-designed, interesting cover has drawn me to a book. Other covers have left me void of any interest in the book. So, when it was time to hand over Faith’s Journey to the cover designer, my excitement over growing closer to seeing my book in print was tempered by questions over whether or not the design would fit my expectations.

I shouldn’t have worried. The finished cover complemented the look and feel of the story and also the main character, Katie, better than I hoped. The background photo looks like it could have been taken in Katie’s back yard. The color scheme is perfect. Katie’s personality was captured in a single shot. My expectations and reality were perfectly balanced.

This isn’t always the case in publishing or in life. We have ideas of what our lives should look like and where the future will take us. We dream of perfect marriages and fulfilling careers. If life works the way we imagined, we live in peace. But that doesn’t happen often. Instead, we lose that promotion or marriage isn’t the fairy tale we hoped for. Maybe the parent we thought would always be there dies too soon. Or little ones we hoped would fill the rooms of our dream house with laughter are never born.

Whatever the disappointment, our dreams are washed away and replaced with a picture we didn’t expect. The colors are wrong, and our warm romance feels more like a cold psychological thriller. The temptation is to lash out at the One who let our dreams shatter, blame God for our hurts and disappointments. We tend to join Job’s wife in complaining against our circumstances rather than saying, with Job, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10)

Scripture is clear that because of sin’s effects in our world, even believers will face trials and troubles. But if we let Him work, God promises that He will work for our good in every circumstance. Consider Joseph. I doubt he dreamed of being attacked and sold as a slave by his family. And just when things started looking up, he gets wrongly accused of rape and thrown into prison.

Joseph could have harbored resentment toward God. The favored son never expected his life to turn out this way. But he didn’t. Instead, Joseph continued to serve God. He continued to use his God-given gift to help others, and God painted Joseph a new picture. At the right time, God worked out Joseph’s release from prison and placed him in favor with the pharaoh. Promoted to a place of importance in Egypt, Joseph was in the position to extend forgiveness to his family and save God’s people from drought.

It was a different picture than Joseph imagined for himself, but God’s picture was a more incredible work of art than Joseph could have accomplished on his own. It may be hard to see when we’re looking at the ruined remains of our dreams, but if we wait patiently, faithfully, one day we will see God has taken that canvas of our lives and created the perfect picture. We only have to trust the designer.

By the Book: Read the story of Joseph. Choose a meaningful verse from it or another encouraging promise of God. Write or type it onto a sheet of paper and add your own design to make a beautiful picture reminder of the work God is doing in your life.

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