Cover Buddies

When I began working on the cover for Redesigning Rose I sat down with my beautiful and talented friend, Jane Speed, at Carte Blanche Creative to brainstorm. After her insight and suggestions, I took to the internet to gather some more ideas. I spent hours studying stock photos. We hadn’t even intended on using one. But when I stumbled across a photo that haunted me for the additional dozen hours I continued searching, I decided I had to use it. I didn’t believe there was a better image that represented the novel and when a select market survey came back with “freedom” as the word it evoked, I knew it was perfect.

It turned out author Kathleen Long thought so, too, for the cover of her novel, Changing Lanes. When I emailed her to say ‘Hi’ and let her know we were cover buddies and send her my best wishes that she sell oodles of novels with the beautiful image, she responded in kind. She also told me she had the image in her design folder for forever and was surprised someone hadn’t snagged it earlier. So was I. It makes such a perfect contemporary women’s fiction cover and could fit a multitude of stories. I also found out this isn’t the first time Kathleen has had a cover buddy!

“I’ve encountered cover buddies (love that term!) on multiple occasions – with both my traditionally and independently published titles. I believe readers are savvy enough not to confuse books with similar covers from different authors, and I think the fact a stock photo appealed to more than one designer is a strong indicator the image will resonate with readers. Who doesn’t hope for that?!” –Kathleen Long, USA TODAY Bestselling Author of Changing Lanes

Redesigning Rose - Cover ImageChanging Lanes by Kathleen Long

When my friend, and fellow book blogger at Novel Escapes, Sabrina-Kate, first alerted me to my cover twin she wrote in her email ‘uhm, this is kind of awkward, but…” and spilled it. Being on the beach on my honeymoon, I was relaxed enough not to freak out. But more than that, I knew this happens – more frequently than anyone wants to admit. I knew the risks going into a stock photo. Anyone can buy and use the same image. I just didn’t anticipate having a cover twin so soon, although I was certain it would occur at some point.  But I shrugged, knowing this happens – and not just to self-published authors. Traditional publishing houses have been using stock images for some time now, a fact I knew because of a Facebook post by Sarah Pekkanen, author of  The Best of Us and three other fabulous novels, including one of my favourites, Skipping a Beat. When I reached out to her to thank her for posting about this issue because it lessened my devastation to know I was in good company, I also asked what her thoughts were.

“This has actually happened to me twice, which is amazing – my editor has never had this happen to any of her other authors even once! For my first book, THE OPPOSITE OF ME, the cover was very similar to a new book out by Julia Glass. There was still time to go back and recreate a new cover from scratch, and it ended up working out for the best, since I liked my second cover so much better and felt it was more suited to the story inside. With THESE GIRLS, we kept the cover and my book was published around the same time as a young adult novel with a nearly-identical cover. At first I was a little worried this would confuse readers, but a year out from the publication of THESE GIRLS, it has been a non-issue. And the other author and I emailed about it, and eventually laughed and shrugged it off. We even bought each other’s books!” – Sarah Pekkanen, author of THE BEST OF US.

Since Sarah’s Facebook discussion of this issue, I’ve discovered these keep popping up. Lindsey Kelk, author of the fabulous I Heart series and another favourite of mine, The Single Girl’s To-Do List, has a cover buddy and finds it a little strange.

“It was a bit strange seeing my cover on another book, two books actually! You always think of your cover as an interpretation of the individual work that is inside and having the same cover on different books really takes away from that. It must be incredibly confusing for the reader. But publishers are always going to use stock photography for certain covers – I had the model from the US edition of I HEART NEW YORK email me and say she loved the book but then a model who would have been on the Australian cover of ABOUT A GIRL refused to release the image! Harsh. I still love the Canadian cover of SINGLE GIRL’S TO-DO LIST and even though the main image popped up elsewhere, I think it fits the book perfectly. The strangest part is I know the people who developed it and how carefully they went through the processes to get it just right – I guess great minds think alike?” – Lindsey Kelk, author of ABOUT A GIRL.

A Weekend with Mr. Darcy by Victoria ConnellyThe Single Girls To Do List

Francine Lasala, author of The Girl, the Gold Tooth, and Everything, recently discovered – to her utter delight – that she is cover buddies with literary giant, Margaret Atwood. Lasala’s novel, Rita Hayworth’s Shoes, shares the same cover as Atwood’s, The Heart Goes Last, and while delighted to share a cover with her idol, Lasala wondered:

“What’s an indie author of quirky women’s fiction to do when the indelible imagery of her first wacky book will now no longer be fully hers? Now that a superstar, a goddess of letters, will also be using it?” – Francine Lasala, author of The Girl, the Gold Tooth, and Everything.

She posed the question on her blog: Who Wore it Better.  Her post instigated a firestorm of questions, particularly: Why? You can’t be a reader or writer without knowing Atwood’s name and, knowing who she is, you know her novels aren’t of the light and fluffy variety. You might wonder, like many of us did, why her publisher chose to use a stock image that not only could be duplicated, but that is also a rather, uhm, economical way to design a cover? And particularly that image, which, in my humble opinion, is much more suited to Lasala’s contemporary women’s fiction title. Have a look:

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret AtwoodRita Hayworth's Shoes by Francine Lasala

I’m sure we will ever know the reasoning behind the decision of Atwood’s team to use that particular image, but it’s interesting to see a stock image used for such a high profile author. It has definitely left me feeling a little more relieved that my use of such an image is a wide-spread phenomenon in the publishing world, whether you’re of the DIY variety or have a team behind you – not that anything could make me feel discouraged about the cover of Redesigning Rose. I adore it and nothing could change that. Thank you, Jane Speed, for altering the image in ways I would never have contemplated if left to my own devices. For anyone interested, here’s the stock image as it was purchased, and Jane’s revamp for Redesigning Rose’s cover. Isn’t she awesome? You can find her over at  Carte Blanche Creative if you’re interested in having a stunning cover designed.

RR Cover Image - Large

Redesigning Rose - Cover Image

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