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The Antique Love – story of a cover

The Antique Love, helena fairfax, cover design
Art Nouveau love token
Photo courtesy of ADIN Jewellery

A few days ago I posted the cover of my next novel, The Antique Love  (which will be released on 6th September 2013) here on my blog, and on my Facebook Page.

I was really happy with the response to my cover.  Everyone seems to love it as much as I do.  So I thought it might be interesting to reveal exactly what goes into producing the cover of a romance novel, and how the designer, Charlotte, and I arrived at a cover we were both happy with.

Of course the actual story is the main starting point for the design. Here’s the blurb, if you haven’t already seen it:

One rainy day in London, Wyoming man Kurt Bold walks into an antique shop off the King’s Road and straight into the dreams of its owner, Penny Rosas.  Penny takes this handsome stranger for a romantic cowboy straight from the pages of a book, and Kurt certainly looks every inch the hero…but he soon brings Penny’s dreams to earth with a thump.  His job is in the City, in the logical world of finance—and as far as Kurt is concerned, romance is just for dreamers.  Kurt is looking for a wife, right enough, but what he wants is a marriage based on logic and rational decisions.  Kurt treats Penny like he would his kid sister, but when he hires her to help refurbish his Victorian house near Richmond Park, it’s not long before he starts to realise it’s not just his home she’s breathing life into.  The logical heart he has guarded so carefully all these years is opening up to new emotions, in a most disturbing way…

I must admit, I was struggling for ideas with this one, but luckily, Charlotte has plenty!  I asked Charlotte if she could show a picture of my heroine, with an antique shop in the background.  It would have been an added bonus to have a love token (like the one in the photo above).  Charlotte tried her best to find a similar photo, but had no luck.  Thanks for trying, Charlotte!

It was a difficult brief, I thought, especially as Penny isn’t your typical gorgeous romance heroine.  When Kurt first sees Penny she appears ‘tired, overworked and in need of a vacation‘.  Not a very flattering description!  So Charlotte had the doubly difficult task of choosing a heroine who isn’t too classically beautiful, but still looks attractive.  Here is Charlotte’s first design:

the antique love, helena fairfax, cover designI liked the heroine, but I thought the rest of the image was a little dark.  Penny’breathes new life‘ into Kurt’s tired heart, and I wanted an image that would reflect her warm character.  Although Penny isn’t beautiful, she has great charm, and Kurt loves visiting her shop, because it is full of life.

Charlotte told me that if she “warmed up” the background, she wouldn’t be able to use the same heroine, as the outline is too dark.  So Charlotte went to great lengths to find a different heroine, and used a brighter background.  Here is the second image Charlotte sent me:

the antique love, helena fairfax, cover designI liked the background much better on this image.  The wooden shelves look warm, and so does the lamp.

When Kurt first sees Penny, he is not immediately struck by her looks, and so I asked Charlotte to tone down the red lips and the brightness of the eyes.  Also, Charlotte left the font colour from the original image.  I do love this colour.  Grey has been fashionable for a while, and I really like it.  I did wonder if something warmer would be more appropriate, though – so difficult to decide!  And so I suggested trying Antique Gold for the font.

Charlotte always “gets” straightaway exactly what I mean.  This was the next, and final, image she sent, and the one I liked the most:

the antique love, helena fairfax, romance novel, seting londonWhat do you think?  Do you think I made the right choices?  And do you think the cover shows an accurate idea of the story?

If you have any comments, please let me know.  It would be great to hear from you!

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16 thoughts on “The Antique Love – story of a cover

  1. What a great post, Helena! I, too, have had the pleasure of working with Charlotte- and she totally gets what you’re saying (as did Marion, my most recent cover artist!)

    I love the choices you made and think the result is fantastic. Best of luck to you!

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    1. Hi Susan, thanks for the great comment. One of the really great things about Muse is that we can have some say in our covers. It’s great that you have some info already for whoever designs your cover. I’ve worked with designers for a number of years, in the print trade, and I find the more specific you can be with what you would like, the easier it is for them to get the design right first time. I feel maybe I wasn’t clear enough to Charlotte the first time round, but she understood straightaway what I meant when I asked for the change. And she is very patient:)

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    1. That’s very interesting, Suzanne! Charlotte also really liked the first cover. I really wasn’t sure what to do, but I think I feel happier with my final choice. It reflects the heroine more than the first. I just hope others agree when they read the book!

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  2. Hi Helena, I love your final choice. I’m such a newbie, I didn’t realize what all went in to finding a cover. I need to think about it. My story has three heroines which won’t be easy to show.

    Thanks for your post. I learn a lot from blogs.

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  3. I love it! Great choice! When I saw the bright red lips on the first draft of the final, I thought no,no, that’s not her. Glad she toned it down. It’s perfect!

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  4. Hi Helena, First off, the changes to the new cover are a huge improvement over the original cover. I’m sure you’ll have much success with “The Antique Love”. The only thing I would change is to go back to the silver title and author name. The reason? Take a look at the cover of Beth Hoffman’s book, which is similar, the silver theme gives it a more antiquey look: http://www.amazon.com/Looking-Me-Beth-Hoffman/dp/0670025836/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375470456&sr=8-1&keywords=beth+hoffman

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    1. Oh, thanks so much for the link, Rachel! I love the look of the cover of Looking For Me – and the novel sounds great, as well! I must admit I was really in two minds whether to go for the antique gold font, or not. I couldn’t make my mind up. Finally, I plumped for it. Now, unfortunately, it’s too late to change, as I have used this cover already in a lot of places as promotion.
      It’s very hard for me, as a writer, to apply my mind to the visual side. Thanks very much for your great comment. I have a lot to learn!

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  5. What an interesting post Helena, describing how the cover was designed from start to finish and how you and Charlotte worked together. I like the toning down of the lipstick in the final cover and the use of the antique gold font.

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