Thursday, April 2, 2009

Covers of 2008, Part 3

This is the last week I'll post 2008 cover art, sent in by authors who loved their covers and all eligible to be nominated for the Anthony award being given this year for best cover art, chosen from the short list of nominees by Bouchercon attendees in the fall. Once more, Poe's Deadly Daughters has nothing to do with Bouchercon. We're just displaying authors who chose to send them to us. We're happy because it's been a big success in terms of both author enthusiasm and comments by readers of the blog. I believe the cover art award is a "wild card" Anthony, a category selected by this year's Bouchercon folks. But if it is repeated my blog sisters and I are thinking of devoting a whole weekend to displaying 2009 covers next year and encouraging even more authors to send them in. Thanks to everybody who participated, including those who came, saw, and in some cases left a comment.

Since we don't have quite as many covers to post this week as the past two Thursdays (do look back if you haven't seen them all--the variety is amazing), I thought I'd say a little about my own cover experience. By the time my debut mystery, Death Will Get You Sober, was ready for a cover, I had heard quite a few discouraging words about other authors' experiences and publishers' agendas. I knew at least one author whose book title had been changed to match a cover timed for the book's release in a certain season--neither cover art nor title having anything to do with the book she'd written. I'd heard a senior editor describe--approvingly--a certain subgenre as enabling the publisher to put a puppy or a kitten on the cover, even if there were no animals in the story. My own publisher, St. Martin's, has a reputation for doing wonderful covers. But I was still afraid they'd change my title--and thus my hook for the whole series--and put, if not a kitten, some equally discordant illustration on the jacket.

Luckily, my editor liked my title and was even open to my input on what the designer and photographer came up with. The first draft of the cover art, which appeared in the publisher's catalog, showed a wine glass shattered, clearly having just been shot. I loved the concept, but pointed out that you don't see too many wine glasses on the Bowery, where my recovering alcoholic protagonist's story begins. (Actually, by today the Bowery has been gentrified out of all recognition, and there are plenty of wine glasses to be found. But that's another story.) They had already thought of that, and the final draft showed what a quick google of barware informed me is called a rocks glass, again in the moment of being shot, presumably by a bullet from a gun. No guns in my story--but none on the cover either, so that was fine with me.

However, a problem remained. The words of my title, in this version, had also been shot, so "Death Will Get You Sober" was fragmented, flying off the page like fireworks in a jumble of different fonts, and very hard to read. Again, thank goodness, St. Martin's was receptive to my request to rework the title--which really was the hook (and a kind of secret signal to one group of potential readers). The result was the highly legible and beautifully balanced version that appeared on the finished book, and I've been happily collecting comments of "What a great cover!" ever since. It's not even BSP, since the cover is not my work. In fact, let me acknowledge the talented jacket designer David Baldeosingh Rotstein and photographer Jon Shireman, whom I have never met. Authors and art folks never seem to connect, so I can't even solve the final mystery about my cover: Did they really shoot the glass?

Elizabeth Zelvin, Death Will Get You Sober (hardcover)

Jane Cleland, Antiques to Die For (hardcover)

Krista Davis, The Diva Runs Out of Thyme (mass market paperback)

Kelli Stanley, Nox Dormienda (hardcover)

Marcia Talley, Dead Man Dancing (hardcover)

Ann Littlewood, Night Kill

John Boundy, Justice Is Coming

Susan Fleet, Absolution (trade paperback)

Mary Stanton, Defending Angels (mass market paperback)

Ken Kuhlken, The Vagabond Virgins

Kathleen Hills, The Kingdom Where Nobody Dies

Zetta Brown, Messalina: Devourer of Men

Sandra Balzo, Bean There, Done That

Robert Fate, Baby Shark High Plains Redemption

Radine Trees Nehring, River to Die For (trade paperback)

Rosemary Harris, Pushing Up Daisies (hardcover)

Cheryl Solimini, Across the River (trade paperback)


Pat Browning said...

More great covers! Liz, this has been a treat. Lots to learn, too, about what makes a cover stand out in a crowd. Thank you for doing this.

Pat Browning
Krill Press 2008

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the judges had any idea what they'd be in for with this new category. The covers are a visual feast! I'm sure I would not be able to select a favorite from each of the Thursday groups, let alone one from the entire list.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

The Anthonys, like the Agathas, are not selected by judges. Early registrants to Bouchercon can propose up to 5 in each category for nomination. Five top entries in each category become nominees. All Bouchercon attendees vote on the winner in each category. That spreads the dilemma of narrowing down the choices to several hundred people. :) Thanks again to everyone who dug this bright idea of mine--I'm thrilled it turned out so well. :)

Debi Watson said...

Indeed the Best Cover Art is a wild card for the Anthony Awards. We were excited to add it this year. Glad you liked the category. Indeed it is a visual feast for the eyes. Debi Watson, Special Events Chair Bouchercon 2009.