by Tara Stevens, Assistant Manager, Digital Products
Since I’ve taken over the role of managing the cover process at Carina Press, I’ve learnt a few eye-opening things, the most obvious being: holy guacamole, we create a ton of covers every month!
Once I wrapped my head around the sheer volume (anywhere from 12 to 17, depending on whether we’re doing any anthologies that month), I began to realize something else: there is a definite art to filling out an Art Fact Sheet (AFS for short).
It’s sort of where everything begins, the genesis of the cover process. It also sets the tone for how easily and quickly the cover comes to life. If you get nothing else out of this blog post, remember this: every great cover starts with a great AFS.
We usually give authors about a week to fill out their AFS. It’s sent via email, and has sections on character description, story setting, time period, and the overall tone/mood of the book. We also encourage the author to include any images that they think represent the book, whether it’s the way the characters look, to their surroundings, to strong visual elements/symbols that tie in to the story.
I can’t stress enough the importance of these images. A lot of authors choose to leave this part blank, but it always helps us (not to mention the cover artists) to have more information, rather than less. I’ve also noticed more and more authors including their Pinterest boards for a book when they submit their AFS, and that’s another cool way to see if we’re on the same page and get some inspiration for the cover.
Other elements we ask for in the AFS are suggested taglines for the book, a quick synopsis, the author’s brand/bio, and a quick elevator pitch. This really helps me get to the heart of the story, so when I brief the designer, we’re really focusing on the most important aspects of the book that we want to convey on the cover.
Authors, don’t be afraid to go into detail on an AFS! Feel free to quote short passages from the book itself if it gets your point across. Suggest a scene you feel might work visually. We want to create a cover that fits your book in the best possible way, so the more information we have at the outset, the better. Including samples of competitive covers in the same genre or other Carina Press covers you think have a similar atmosphere to your book also helps us get a sense of what you’re looking for.
Is there anything you’d like to see included in our AFS that we don’t currently have? Have you ever created a Pinterest board for a book you’re writing? Do you find it helpful?