In the Shadow of Jezebel by Mesu Andrews

Uncovering the Book Cover Process

Mesu Andrews Featured Articles 16 Comments

Last week, you read a devotional written by one of my BFF (Biblical Fiction Fan) team members. This week, I want to show you the kind of preview information my BFF team members receive.

The Book Cover

The first draft of a book cover usually arrives 8-9 months before the book’s release. The author’s first peek is one of the most exciting–and most excruciating–moments in the publishing process.

After sweating over this manuscript for hours, days, weeks, and months, the moment finally arrives when all your characters, settings, and plot twists culminate in a single photo: the book cover.

My palms sweat. My heart races. My hand hesitates over the mouse before clicking on the attachment.  I take a deep breath and say a quick prayer. Lord, give me eyes to see…

Very Thankful

Can I just say…I love all four of my book covers. And since I have almost nothing to do with the creative process, I can brag and compliment the Revell design team with my whole heart!

I’ve loved each cover for different reasons, and every cover endured a unique process to arrive at the final masterpiece.

The First Three Covers

1st Cover - Love Amid the Ashes

Love Amid The AshesLove Amid the Ashes went all the way to the first marketing meeting (released to salesmen) with the first cover on left, but its less-than-approving reception sent my AMAZING design team back to the drawing board. That’s when the bi-panel idea arose, and they produced the final cover we all LOVE (on right)!

 

 

LOVE'S SACRED SONG - FINALAnd what woman (or teenage girl) doesn’t feel light-headed when she sees that hottie, King Solomon, on the cover of Love’s Sacred Song? (Revell still won’t give me his phone number—I just want to thank him for being the reason so many folks buy that book! 😉 )

Love-in-a-Broken-Vessel-rt-toppickLove in a Broken Vessel was an interesting assignment for the designers because both Hosea and Gomer were older in this story—late twenties, early thirties. The Revell designers chose mature models, who portrayed their harsh life experiences with a single glance. Loved that cover!

 

First Email About In the Shadow of Jezebel Cover

On March 15, 2013, I received my first email from Cheryl Van Andel, Revell’s Senior Art Director, about cover design. I always get excited about emails from this dear lady! She forwarded an email from Dan Thornburg, who had designed my previous three covers, and included a drawing from him with several pictures he proposed. Here’s his email and the pix:

Here’s a sketch of the idea for her costume. We could substitute cords of some kind for the magenta robe and use a shawl in that color.

I’ve included a few pics to show the feel I’m hoping to get. The wrap or shawl would have some kind of pattern or weave also.

ITSOJ Cover InspirationMy Response

Since this is our fourth cover design together, Cheryl and I know each other well enough to give honest feedback without dancing on egg shells. She knows I LOVE Revell’s work, and I respect her skills as a designer. So here was my response:

  • I’d love to see the Temple (column, limestone blocks, etc) as the backdrop
  • I love the image of India Edgehill’s woman, even her stance, but Jehosheba would be fearful, looking over her shoulder to see if someone was watching/following her—a SHADOW on the wall!
  • LOVE the cords idea instead of the sash.
  • The patterned shawl sounds awesome.
  • I think the sketch of the robe is very nice. Not too flashy (because she’s gone from princess to simple wife of high priest).
  • And I know we like jewelry (Ha!), but this one should be really understated again… I liked the beads on the pic you send of the woman gathering wheat—and her head covering was plain as well.

Hooray! Cover Is Done—Not.

So, on May 14, 2013, I receive the exciting email from Cheryl with the pdf attachment of the final cover! Here it is…see anything different than the book released in March 2014?

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 9.53.57 AM

The initial title for the book had been approved as The Shadow of Jezebel, and when we saw it on the cover—along with that beautiful young girl—it seemed that we were insinuating the beautiful girl WAS Jezebel.

Poor Cheryl. I replied to her with a sheepish “uh-oh” email, saying I’d like to add the word “In to the title. She was extremely gracious, but that little word caused havoc on that cover! Let’s just say—34 emails later, with the input of Cheryl, my agent, my editor, my marketing manager, and Revell’s marketing director—Cheryl found a way to get that little word “In” added to the title. J She’s a miracle-worker, and I love her dearly.

Worth the Effort

Andrews_Jezebel - final jpg from CherylYou may not stop to think about the models that pose for the cover pictures. I certainly didn’t—until a few days ago, when the father of our Sheba model contacted me through my website.

He wrote a very simple “Thank You” for allowing his daughter to appear on the cover of In the Shadow of Jezebel. And I wrote a very grateful reply, expressing my appreciation for his daughter’s beauty and perfect expression of my character’s spunk.

The girl’s real name is Chelsey.

I don’t know if she’ll ever read this book, but I’m so thankful we changed the title—if for no other reason than Chelsey. I wouldn’t want her to be labeled Jezebel for the rest of her life. When I answered her dad’s email, I could confidently suggest that she read about Sheba, the character she portrayed on the cover.

I pray that Chelsey is proud of the woman she represents and that her life reflects the love and healing Sheba finds in Yahweh.

Book #5–Pharaoh’s Daughter

The first draft cover arrived in my inbox a few weeks ago, but I haven’t been given the “go ahead” to share it. The first group to see it will be my BFF Team. They’ll preview it and give feedback. They’ll get the story behind the cover because they’ve been with me through part of my research and writing process.

If you’d like to be a part of the BFF Team, watch for details on my Facebook page or in my August newsletter. You can sign up for the monthly newsletter in the space provided in the right-hand column!

Tweet-A-Licious!

Today’s Question:

  • Do you have questions about the process of creating a book cover?

Comments 16

  1. Thanks so much for sharing that laboring process that leads to perfectly beautiful covers of your book. Oh – the little things we don’t think about…..HOW awesome to be contacted by that proud father!

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      1. I know we’re all waiting and holding our breath along with you. They are all so wonderful and each one is special. I’m sure this one will be just as fabulous!

  2. Oh Mesu…thanks so much for this post! I have always wondered about the book cover process. So honored to be a BFF and can’t wait to get started helping with the launch of “The Pharaoh’s Daughter”!!!

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  3. Great post. I can see why it’s scary – it seems you have to think hard and give quite a bit of direction. Even to the point of thinking – “We need to add the word ‘in’ to the title.” I’m not sure my thinking would cover (pun intended) that!

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      Hahahaha! Pun appreciated! My hubby is the great mind that thought of “In”–he’s my detail word guy, and my crit partner is the visual detail gal. It takes a village FOR SURE!!! 😉

  4. I DON’T KNOW WHERE THE MODELS FOR THE COVERS COME FROM, BUT THEY ARE SO PERFECT FOR EACH BOOK TITLE AND SUBJECT. I HAVE TO SAY THAT I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE COVERS OF YOUR BOOKS. PLEASE KEEP THE BOOKS COMING. THEY GIVE ME SUCH AN UPLIFTING FEELING, I CAN’T BEGIN TO DESCRIBE IT.

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      These designers are amazing, aren’t they? I don’t know how they choose the models, but they do seem perfect for the stories–each one on each cover. I’ve been pleased with each one too. I’m so thankful the stories have blessed you, Irene. As long as the Lord keeps giving me stories, I’ll keep writing them! 😉

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  5. Wow Mesu!!!! As novice in the world of publishing, this really hit home to how much work goes into releasing a book. I mean to say I know the story itself is alot of work but I didn’t think so much of the cover. I look at covers and they attack me to the books I read, but I never really thought on it. So thank you for this months post on that. And I totally love the split covers and all the women and men that model for the covers for they are just right!! Love all you do!!

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      I know I was astounded on my first book, when I realized all the steps, all the decisions and people involved in the process. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful tribe of folks around me–including you, lady! Thanks for your encouragement. (And I’ve been having trouble with typos lately too–mostly from my phone’s silly auto-correct feature…argh!) 😉

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