I've had books published by three different houses. I thought the publisher, Kregel, did a nice job designing the cover of my first book, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse. The imprints in the sand of the hands, one male, one female, conjured up an image of both the togetherness and the impermanence of a life together. I had no real input into this--and was too much of a rookie writer to know better--but I couldn't be more pleased. Someone took the time to read (or at least scan) the book and came up with the idea.
Abingdon Press, the next three from Thomas Nelson (later to become part of Harper Collins Christian Fiction), and my next three will come from Abingdon. Each of these publishing houses approaches cover design somewhat differently, but in every case the author must provide a good bit of information. This includes a brief synopsis of the plot, a description of the main characters (including sometimes an actor they resemble and what clothes and setting are appropriate for them), suggested titles (not just your working title), and the mood or emotion you'd like the cover image to evoke. At times the cover artist or graphic designer gets it right on the first pass, in others it takes several tries. The first design of my debut novel, Code Blue, required several passes, and to the credit of the publisher, they stayed with it until they got it right, setting the tone for the entire series.
Thomas Nelson Publishers (Harper Collins Christian Fiction) put a lot of time and effort into the design for the covers of my most recent novels. I especially like this one for my latest novel, Critical Condition, although it's different from what one usually sees with Christian fiction. What do you think about it?
I had no idea about all this when I began writing. Did you? I'd love to hear your thoughts on book covers. Do you ever buy a book based solely on the cover image? Do some images turn you off? I look forward to reading your comments.