Call me prejudice, but I think Harlequin Historicals covers are absolutely gorgeous, and they just keep getting better. I get a lot of questions about how the covers are created. In years past we had to fill out ten pages of Art Fact Sheets, known among us as the AFS. Since all my writing is done on the computer, I bought a typewriter just for the Art Fact Sheets. Then we would mail the completed forms, along with artwork, to the editorial staff. More recently, technology has allowed us to fill out these forms at a special Harlequin author website developed just for this purpose. Doing so involves scrolling through a lot of pull down bars and finding something close to the description needed. We suggest specific scenes as well as a couple of generic ones that portray the theme and feel of the book.
You can teach some of us old dogs new tricks, and I love the ease and simplicity of the new method. I now scan and send my artwork as attached files. I always send pictures of my hero and heroine, and usually a shot or two of scenery for the location, as well as description and accurate photos of clothing, horses and other items that play an important part in the story.
The editor who is working on my cover, adds her own thoughts and suggestions to the package, and then they have a meeting where the art department and editors plan covers for the coming months. They look at the author's past covers and consider her specific "branding" or the look that says this is a particular author's book by sight, often using the same font and similar style. They also look at the covers from the previous months so they don't duplicate, and they consider all the books in the line that will be coming out that particular month, so that each cover is unique.
Sometimes the resulting cover is exactly a scene, a couple, or a theme I suggested; other times it's nothing like I imagined. I always defer to the strategy of the marketing and art departments who are in the business of packaging for greatest impact and who want an appealing item to sell as much as I do.
I don't see the finished product until I get a .jpg file from Harlequin or receive an envelope full of cover flats in the mail. It's always exciting to see that new cover for the first time. Some covers I love it at first sight, others grow on me.
The next cover I will see is for my February '07 release, THE LAWMAN'S BRIDE. Here is the picture of City Marshal Clay Conner that I included with the AFS. Now it's just a waiting game to see if my hero looks the way I imagined him the whole time I was writing his story. I don't know who the model is. I found him in a magazine ad and knew he was my marshal. I keep pictures of my hero and heroine above my PC as I work on the story and it helps me visualize.
What do you especially like about Harlequin Historical covers?