Anatomy of a Cover

With A Little Village Blend dropping in less than a week now from Bold Strokes Books (eee!), I thought I’d talk covers. The most wonderful thing about having a cover artist like Inkspiral is obviously how gorgeous the end result is, but I feel like cover art is one of those things we don’t talk about a lot as authors, beyond perhaps the “Gah! Cover! Eee!” gushing that generally ends up with me more-or-less nonverbally waving the image around. But there’s a journey to get to these covers, and it begins with me sending a bunch of random words to Inkspiral.

I’m not overstating that. I know my wheelhouse, and while I have opinions on cover art—especially from the point of view I gained working as a bookseller—I’m by no means a designer. So what did I send to Inkspiral? I sent this:

Tone: Light, upbeat romance with a twist of magic.

Ivan Heidt (POV character): Description from the novella: “Anya’s [Ivan’s sister] auburn hair, paired with their naturally fair skin, made her seem dramatic and powerful. On Ivan, the combination made him look like…well, like a guy who owned a tea shop in the Village.” He also has a full sleeve tattoo on his right arm of a cherry-tree in blossom that covers extensive surgery scars from having his arm repaired/pinned after a serious break, but this wouldn’t be visible if he’s at work, where he wears a long-sleeve shirt and an apron.

Walt (Love Interest): Description from the novella: “The man was stocky, burly across the chest and wide enough to stretch the fabric of his green t-shirt tight around his shoulders. His dark hair was short, as was the beard he sported, and he was deeply tanned. [Almost sunburned.]” He appears in uniform a couple of times (Canadian soldier, which I included a link to, but didn’t necessarily want.)

Other important things: Loose-leaf tea in tins, a tea shoppe called NiceTeas, if it’s outdoors, a Husky with one gold eye and one blue eye. Holding to the general illustrated style of Handmade Holidays, Faux Ho Ho and Village Fool to make it clear this is part of the same Village world, but I’d love something of a twinkle/little extra spark to denote this one has the overt magic where the others are contemporary holiday romances. Same world and overall family of stories, but adjacent.

From that Inkspiral gave me a draft that was almost exactly how the final cover of A Little Village Blend turned out, and I cannot tell you how freaking happy I was when I saw it. Especially how he’d shifted things to a soft blue instead of Red, and how the title ended up. His idea to leave the “word covered by a panel of the title” for the contemporary holiday romances and doing something slightly different for this little novella was so perfect, and the the calling it “A Village Magic Novella” where the holiday books were “A Little Village Novella” is just the right little twist. They’re 100% clearly from the same world, but there’s enough to offset the two styles.

Inkspiral delivering all the goods.

So here is the cover, and here are all the little bits and pieces Inkspiral put into the work. Can we talk about those tea-tin labels first, because holy flying crap, the detail there alone. But the sparkles in the tea-pot, the two men staring at each other, and the chalkboard? Also, if you take a peek at the other Village covers, you’ll notice those strings of lights, too. It’s all those little details that make the cover feel like a part of the Village, and I could not be happier.

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