I art-direct my book covers carefully, because I tend to write stories that aren’t served well by stock art featuring sweetly embracing couples.
I write humor and sarcasm into every one of my books. My contemporaries are sassy and my paranormal romances are outrageously snarky. I want people to know what they’re getting into before that first page of text has them clutching their chests. (The second paragraph of A Demon in Waiting contains the line “Last time I f*ck a sister-wife.” Don’t worry: it’s not the hero uttering it, but that’s the overall tone of the book—off-the-rails cheeky.)
Because I know I’m probably only going to get one chance to convey what my story is to the cover artist, I try to give very clear treatment ideas so they know what kind of imagery to steer clear of.
A Demon in Waiting scared me, to be honest, because the publisher could have sent me back a cover that was over-the-top cheesy to go with the humor elements. I was surprised in a very good way when they sent me this:
Let me tell you what I requested in my cover art form:
This book is light paranormal with a comedic overtone, so the cover shouldn’t be too dark. I think a sexy contemporary feel with a touch of otherworldliness would convey this plot well.
The hero is a hitchhiker. The heroine picks him up from the roadside. They travel all the way from Arizona to North Carolina together. So, it would be appropriate to have a picture of a couple in/leaning on a newer sedan…perhaps with a demon lurking nearby to convey the paranormal element.
The demon in this story (the titular Gulielmus—Hitch’s father) appears in a human form as a middle-aged long-haired, blond, blue-eyed man with a fondness for expensive suits. He’s the antagonist and not particularly friendly.
I think the cover artist took one look at all that and said, “Not gonna trip ME up, Holley Trent. Try harder.”
I love it when the artist can pluck out something simple and make it the perfect direction.