Thursday, January 28, 2016

From Editor to Designer

The process of writing and publishing a novel has a lot of highs and lows on the highway to launch day. But one of the most exciting, the one that makes the whole thing seem real, is the writer's first look at the new cover. Good or bad, the cover is a jolt of excitement. We may mutter about the colors or praise the choice of images, or wonder if the title is too large or our name too small. But none of this matters, because it is always thrilling to see our book with a real cover.

I have been very fortunate in the covers designed for the Anita Ray series. Five Star not only chose beautiful designs but also allowed me to make comments on the first one, Under the Eye of Kali. The cover was a perfect fit for the story. The same was true for the mass market paperback edition from Harlequin Worldwide.

This raised the stakes when I decided to publish a trade paperback through Create Space. All of a sudden I was lost. Fortunately, I found an excellent graphic designer, Kathleen Valentine, who solved my problems.

Kathleen came up with a template that I can use for the entire series, making changes only in the main photographic image, color scheme, and titles. I've used this template for the first two Anita Ray novels, Under the Eye of Kali and The Wrath of Shiva, and liked the results for both. I'm now working on the third book in the series, For the Love of Parvati.

I found two photographs that worked perfectly for the first two books, so I've been scanning my photographs from my last several visits to India.

The challenge becomes choosing the best image to indicate the story or setting. In the third Anita Ray, For the Love of Parvati, the story takes place in the foothills of Kerala, in an old mansion, during the monsoon, and involves a new maidservant, the family scion, who is in trouble with his employers, and a daughter visiting her mother. Someone seems to be stalking the household, and the police have been searching the area for a presumed terrorist. Secrets abound, of course. A family servant has gone missing, and Anita finds the body of a man washed up by the flooding river.

I don't have any photographs of the monsoon in the hills, but I have a few images of old mansions. I've narrowed the choice down to three. My final choice will depend in part on how well the image accommodates the title and author name.  

I never thought about book covers when I was taking photographs in Kerala, but I've since found myself reframing an image that might serve later. I'll make a final choice in the next week or so, and then I can move on to uploading text and cover for ebooks and paperbacks.

If the choice were up to you, which one would you pick?

To purchase one of the Anita Ray novels, click on the links below.


  1. Thanks for the mention. I enjoy working on your covers.

  2. Thanks, Kathleen. And I love the covers you do for me. I'm hoping one of the photos will work, but if not I'll go back to the files and keep looking.