Natalie asked Jennifer Ashley:

Hi Jennifer, I was wondering how you choose your covers for your books, specifically for your Shifters Unbound series, and what sort of process is involved? I enjoy them immensely and looking forward to the new stories that are on the way! Thank you

Jennifer Ashley Hi Natalie: The cover process depends on whether I publish the book myself or have a publisher. For the ones my publisher does, I tell them what the book is about, what the characters look like, and what I'd like to see on the cover. Then they create a draft of one. (BTW, the cover designers do not read the books--usually the cover is done before or during the time the book is being written).

I don't have much more input than that--I can say "yes, I like the cover" or "No, please make a change," but they won't change it radically once it's done, especially if they've used a live model for a shoot (shoots are expensive, and it's too costly to do a second one).

For my self-published books I try to find a stock photo of someone who would be a good stand-in for the character. It's hard to find an exact match, of course. It's possible to arrange a shoot, but it is costly, and there's no guarantee there will be a good shot from it to work with. Once I've settled on a photo (whether stock or from a shoot), then I give the photo to a cover designer and work with her on the fonts, arrangement, background, and so forth. She does the graphic art, and I approve or ask for changes. (Some authors do their own covers--I have no experience with graphic art, so I'm happy to hire a designer!)

Covers are tricky. Sometimes they come out perfectly, sometimes not so much! I've had wonderful covers for books, and I've had covers that make me want to weep in despair. Covers are so important that it's always a tense time!

Covers are usually made about a year in advance of the book's publication. Why? Because they are used in catalogs and other promotional copy sent to bookstores who then order the books (far ahead of time) to carry in their stores. I like to have my self-pub covers well in advance as well, so I can show them to readers and let them know what's coming.

It's an interesting process to say the least!

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