Thursday, January 17, 2013

Lessons from a Photo Shoot by Leah Hultenschmidt, Senior Editor

Though super fun, a photo shoot is not all gorgeous costumes and hot guys.  There’s a ton of hard work, and I don’t envy those models one second (ok, if we’re being honest, maybe I do envy them for a second or so).  Much of the direction the models get can also be taken by writers to create a strong book that’s really going to stand out on shelves.  Because, after all, isn’t that what we all want?
           1. You have to believe the chemistry. The models may have only known each other five minutes, and yet they have to convey sizzling sexual tension immediately.  Writers are lucky in that they get a little more time to build that chemistry.  But keep in mind that the characters and the romance are the main focus of your book and are the most important part to build—especially in those first 30 pages.  Don’t get distracted introducing a lot of other people, planting the seeds for a mystery, or lost in world-building.  Yes, those plot details are important, but the focus needs to be on the hero and heroine.

               2. Find a different angle. On the cover, this means literally.  Check out this awesome art for Shana Galen’s WHEN YOU GIVE A DUKE A DIAMOND.   

     You have the trend of a gorgeous dress, but done in a way that doesn’t feel as though you’ve seen it a thousand times.  Same holds true for your writing.  I read a crazy number of Regencies.  What’s the angle that’s going to make yours stand out? When Gina Lamm pitched me THE GEEK GIRL AND THE SCANDALOUS EARL, it sounded so refreshingly different, I couldn’t wait to read it.  A modern-day video game lover falls through a mirror and ends up in a Regency earl’s bed and then gets him addicted to Angry Birds. It’s irreverent, flirty and definitely easy to see how it’s different.  I think the design team did a fantastic job capturing that tone on the cover.

          3. Polish up the details post-production. So the girl’s in a pink dress and in the book it’s supposed to be blue.  Thank goodness for Photoshop.  Let’s take out the tattoo, give him a little more muscle definition, drop in a background, now lighten everything.  Our design team is amazing at taking the raw footage and tweaking it to perfection.  As long as the chemistry and the angle are there.  That’s your raw material—get it down on paper first.  Then go back and tweak.  And then trust that your beta readers and your editor will tweak some more.  ;-)

           4. Have fun.

Author Julie Ann Walker w/ THRILL RIDE cover model Donovan



  1. Great tips and covers! Fans have often said that they could feel the emotion from my covers before they even opened the book. GREAT JOB, Sourcebooks!

  2. Leah, I consistently get huge kudos on my covers. Sourcebooks definitely knows what it is doing.

  3. Sourcebooks does an amazing job with covers. I love spotting them on the shelves.

    I've received so many compliments on my Scottish covers. Although, my Dad still claims in front of readers that he's the cover model on my books. Doesn't he look AMAZING?

    Great post, Leah!

  4. I can't ever wait to share the covers, and then the oohs and ahhs, and panting begins...and then the shares and the likes...and the--I can't wait for the book to get here! Yep, great covers! Something to be proud of!

  5. Convey my apologies to your Dad, Victoria. My DH is under the delusion. . . er, I mean impression that he's the inspiration for all the covers!

  6. Too funny. My DH told my Dad that he might be the cover model for by books, but HE was the inspiration between the covers. Men.

  7. Leah, love this post. Great tips to remember. My covers have stopped people in their tracks. Well done, Sourcebooks!