Thursday, July 7, 2016

Confessions of a Cover Queen: Tapping into Your Creativity to Create a Memorable Cover

with guest Belle Calhoune.

I must confess something.  I am an unapologetic cover snob.  Please don’t judge me.  I really can’t help myself.  It all started when I was six-years-old and I came across a book cover that absolutely mesmerized me. 

 It was a book called “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak.  The wildly imaginative cover drew me in, which led me to read the book.  Not once.  Not twice.  But dozens of times until it became not only a keeper, but one of my favorite books of all time.   

As an avid reader, I find myself gravitating toward vivid, compelling covers.  After all, it’s the first thing we notice about a book, and almost one hundred percent of the time, the book blurb comes afterward.  So as readers we really are first attracted to a book by its cover.  And forgive me for being blunt, but a terrible cover isn’t going to attract many buyers.  As an author, one of the most important steps in the book publication process is the cover art.  A cover really can make or break a book launch.  There is no escaping the reality that a stellar cover helps sell books.


As a hybrid author I write for Harlequin Love Inspired (a traditional book publisher), as well as Indie/Self- publishing.  The process involved in both of these endeavors is very different.  With Love Inspired, I am very fortunate to have input in the cover process.  Love Inspired authors fill out AFS forms (Art Fact Sheets) which is our opportunity to have input in the covers of our story.  We are able to convey to the art department what our hero and heroine look like, the setting of our book, time of year, weather and any unique details we might wish to include. 

It’s always very exciting to receive an email alerting us to the final cover reveal.  My current release from Harlequin Love Inspired is “A Match Made in Alaska.”  Last December I was out Christmas shopping at the mall with my daughters when I happened to see a message on my phone from Love Inspired.  When I clicked on the attachment I found myself getting teary-eyed the moment the picture came into focus.  My cover was spectacular.  And although I have been in love with many covers before, this one was different.  The artist had tapped in to the very world I created in Love, Alaska.  It felt as if the artist had read the book and based the cover off those details.  In reality, my input led the artist in the right direction. 

Although the credit goes to the artist for creating such a masterpiece, those details I provided on the AFS sheets were invaluable.   

Although doing the AFS sheets can be tedious, I would advise every author to take their time and go through the sheets in meticulous fashion.  Rushing through the forms can lead to a cover that you’re not really crazy about. There’s no better feeling in the world than seeing a fantastic cover that you actually were a part of creating.  For this particular series (Alaskan Grooms series) I wanted to tap in to the romanticism of brides and grooms, as well as the remote aspects of Alaska.  


I promise you, I’m not the only writer who feels that covers are extremely important.  Piper Huguley, an award winning author of Christian romance says, “It’s well worth the time and effort to obtain a good cover.  I suspect that readers might not have been willing to try my stories if it had not been for the covers on book one in both of my series.  Both covers have won Best Cover at the Emma awards two years in a row.”  Piper makes an excellent point.  Discoverability.  Exposure.  Award winners!  An outstanding cover allows a book to shine.  And it attracts readers like moths to a flame.  



Speaking of cover contests, I had a great experience this year with the Judge a Book By Its Cover Contest sponsored by the Houston Bay Area RWA.  My cover for “An Alaskan Wedding” (created by Robert Papp) received second place in the Inspirational Category.  This is a great contest and I know that the Chapter is hoping to widen the pool of entries.  So enter your book covers in this cool contest and spread the word about it.   

Tips for creating an appealing Indie cover:

1. Study the market.  Make sure you look around at what covers-books are selling.  And be familiar with the top-selling books and their covers.  If I’ve seen it once I’ve seen it a hundred times (or something like that).  Numerous authors launch the Indie books at the same time with an identical cover.    Don’t pick the most obvious couple for your book.  Look for something a little different or with unique details.  Add a landscape or special fonts or pops of color.  

2. Branding.  Establish a brand via your covers that readers will know is uniquely associated with your books.  And try to stick to it.  That doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and experiment a little, but never stray too far away from your own brand so that your readers need a road map to find you.

3. Don’t chase trends so much that your cover is blah.  Find yourself in your own cover creations.  Brainstorm and use visualization to bring your story to life.  Tap into the most important elements of your story and then capture them on the cover of your book.  

4. Find a great cover artist! Unless you’re extremely talented and can do it yourself a great cover artist can really help you nail the cover of your dreams.  I always have a great vision for my covers but I do not possess the skills to do it by myself.  I am a firm believer in doing the thing I do best, which is write.  I work with my cover artist to fine tune the details, but I leave everything else in her capable hands.

5. If you’re doing a series, find something to tie the covers together visually.  Add some little detail that connects the books together so that if you line them up they all appear as if they’re from the same tribe.  

6. Don’t be afraid to tool around with a cover until it fits your version of perfect.  A good cover artist will work with you to ensure that you are one hundred percent satisfied with the end result.

7. Sometimes you have to spend a little money to be successful in the cover game.  A cheap cover may save you a few dollars, but in the end, you’re not doing yourself any favors by putting out a blah cover.  I’m not saying break the bank, but spending a decent amount will pay off in the long run.

8. Sweet rules the day when writing for the Inspirational market.  That means no heroine with cleavage for days or a hero with too tight jeans or a shirt unbuttoned down to his belly button.  Romantic, but never raunchy.

Best-Selling Christian romance author Leah Atwood says, "A good cover should tell a story in line with the book. A poor cover or one with a misaligned story to the books theme will distract the reader and do an injustice to the book.”  

Leah’s latest cover for “Calling Love” showcases beautiful wedding bands that lets the reader know this book might be about the bonds of holy matrimony.  The vivid pop of color really catches the eye and nicely complements the font.   

As a romance author I love romantic covers.  I want a cover to make me feel something.  I want to know more about the people gracing the cover of the book.  Were they high school sweethearts who were just reunited?  Or a divorced couple yearning for a second chance?  Or perhaps the heroine has a secret baby by the amnesiac hero who just inherited a ranch in Wyoming that used to belong to the heroine’s father?  An Inspirational romance cover should convey love, romance, hope and the belief that the couple featured in the novel will be able to surmount all obstacles to be together.  That’s no small feat, but if you tap into your creative abilities, it lies just within reach.  

The cover for “If Only in My Dreams” (Book 5 in my Seven Brides, Seven Brothers series) is one of my absolute favorites.  It conveys all the hopes and dreams and romanticism of my couple—Rose and Brandon.  Every time I look at it I grin like crazy because it brings to mind all of the reasons why I write romance.  And why I always will.   



What kind of covers make you smile?  Or compel you to take out your wallet and buy the book?  Does a favorite cover come to mind?


Belle Calhoune was born and raised in Massachusetts, one of five children. The daughter of a Physician and a Biologist, Belle found herself entranced by the literary world. Growing up across the street from a public library fed her hunger for books, particularly romance novels and mysteries. After graduating from Syracuse University, Belle worked as a Federal Investigator in Boston. After the birth of her youngest child, she and her college sweetheart husband moved to Connecticut, where they now reside with their two daughters, a lovable chocolate lab and a very spoiled poodle. Being an author is her dream job.


Belle is generously giving away five print copies of A Match Made in Alaska. Leave a comment and your name will be entered in the drawing. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.
A Match Made in Alaska
A Small-Town Rescue

Librarian Annie Murray hoped participating in Love, Alaska's "Operation Love" would lead to finding a rugged bachelor to call her own.  But as her flight crash lands before reaching her destination, she finds herself alone with her pilot, Declan O'Rourke.Annie's met charmers like Declan before--now she wants a man of substance.  Forced to survive with him in the snowy wilderness, Annie discovers Declan's depth--and he begins to see the shy librarian's heart of gold.  But once back in town, outside sources threaten their bond. It'll take all the bravery they had in the wild for Annie and Declan to find love in small-town Alaska.

104 comments:

Tina Radcliffe said...

Those are some dreamy covers, Belle!

And welcome back to Seekerville.

I am not a cover snob...however, when I see an extraordinary cover like your Alaska one, I tend to buy even without reading the blurb. All thought goes away, I simply must have the book.

Now looking forward to reading the book!!!

Cinnamon rolls and iced chai tea is ready!

Mary Preston said...

A great cover will get my attention. It can be sweet, colorful, a beautiful landscape, a painting by an Old Master or.......

Cindy W. said...

Hi Belle! I too am drawn to a cover. If it looks interesting I pick up the book and read the blurb on the back. If it sounds interesting I buy it. Sad to say I guess I am a cover snob, because if the cover doesn't draw me I don't read the blurb on the back and I am sure I hace passed over a lot of great stories because of that. I really am trying to change my ways by picking up books at random and reading the blurbs. I am a WIP. :)

An author's name is also a draw for me. If the name is one I recognize and I've enjoyed past books, I buy the new one. It wouldn't matter if the cover was blank as long as the name of a favorite or known author is there.

I do love your covers too!

Blessings,
Cindy W.

Cindy W. said...

Okay, so I meant to say, "...and I am sure I have passed over a lot of great stories...

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I love small-town Alaska!!!! Belle, what marvelous books these are and the covers are dynamite. Kudos to you and everyone you work with.

I'm so glad you're here today!!! I've got fresh coffee throughout the day, and I brought strawberry and cream stuffed croissants, a favorite up here.... and sweet tea and hot tea for the non-coffee-ers amongst us!

Belle, huge congrats to you on all of your success. You are truly rocking this hybrid status, and I'm so happy for you!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mmm.......cinnamon rolls...........

Jill Weatherholt said...

Hi Belle! It's wonderful to see you here. While browsing a bookstore, a great cover will always grab my attention. Your covers are all so beautiful. Congratulations on your success!

Piper Huguley said...

Good morning Seekerville! Jumping in to say that Belle (as a cover snob) motivated me to ask for better in my covers and I've learned a lot from her over the past few years about something that I didn't think was that important. I honestly believe my covers helped people to trust in the "weird thing" I was trying to do. Many thanks, Belle!

Jackie said...

Hi Belle,

Your covers are beautiful, and I'll admit I'm drawn to beautiful covers. Why pour your hard work into writing the best book you can and not shoot for a great cover.

Thanks for sharing and congratulations on you your books.

Iced chai tea? I'd love a glass. Have a great day!

Kav said...

Oh, I adore cover art! If I wasn't such a bibliophile I'd buy a book just so I could rip the cover off and frame it. Shudder. Doesn't that sound barbaric? Of course I would never rip up a book, but wouldn't a room lined with framed favourite book covers be awesome????

So yes, book covers do sway me. I'd like to think that I could look past an unappealing one but...well, there are just so many great books out there, I fear my eyes would lead me to the pretty ones first. :-)

No need to enter me in the draw 'cause I've read A Match Made In Alaska. Loved it! Such a great series!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Piper, I love great covers... They're such a draw!!!!

And all of my publishers have been marvelous about the covers, from Franciscan's artsy side to Waterbrook's rugged cowboys, they've worked to capture the essence of story.

I sure can't do that!

Love 'em!!!

DebH said...

Hi Belle
As a graphic artist, I appreciate cover snobs. I've been practicing creating cover art for stories in my brain. Someday I might even work on another author's cover. I certainly see lots of blah or ??? covers across Amazon. Sure, a cover will catch my eye, but the blurb is what usually keeps me there. Nothing sadder than a gorgeous cover with a less than promising blurb.

The Seeker Ladies sure have awesome cover art, even though I'd buy their books by their names. Their indie covers have been great too, so apparently they know how to get in touch with good artists too. So smart!

Anyway, I really enjoyed your post today. I'd LOVE a chance to win one of the books you're offering. So generous!!! THANKS! I've got to go check out the other Alaska book over on Amazon because that cover is gorgeous too.

Laura Conner Kestner said...

Great post, BELLE! Your covers are beautiful!!! Enjoyed reading your tips and advice - numbers 2 and 5 were especially interesting to me. Thank you so much!

ohiohomeschool said...

I love a great cover! Love one. It makes reading the book more fun. :-) I love the new cover on A Match Made In Alaska. The snow and white dress with the Alaskan scenery is very beautiful. Eye catching.

I would love to be in the drawing.
Thanks
Becky B.

Edwina said...

Hi Belle,

Your post is very timely for me as I'm thinking of my cover for my memoir. The publisher I'm using will not begin work on the book cover until the revisions from the Editorial Assessment are submitted. It's frustrating because I want the cover to put on my website, use on marketing materials, etc. I have no idea what the cover will look like so I can't even use an approximation. arrrgh!

I would love to win a copy of your book!

BelleC said...

Good Morning!!!! Thanks for the compliment about my covers, Tina. And thanks for having me on Seekerville today. I get so excited whenever I see a new cover reveal. At the moment I'm waiting for a Alaska Christmas cover reveal. Crossing my fingers...and toes.

BelleC said...

Hi Mary. You make a great point. And there are some beautiful landscape covers out there as well. I had a gorgeous one for my book "Forever Her Hero." I tend to gravitate toward having people on my covers but this ended up being a beautiful depiction of a lovely Cape Cod home by the sea.

BelleC said...

Hi Cindy W. It sounds like we're birds of a feather. I think that when there's an awful cover it is really an injustice to the book and the author, much like the quote I used from author Leah Atwood. When there are thousands and thousands of books out there, having an appealing cover is great marketing.

cathyann40 said...

I love a good cover. It makes me want to buy the book. I'd OE to win one of these giveaway copies.

Connie Queen said...

It's so true we can't help but judge a book by it's cover.

I love Courting Trouble's cover by Deanne Gist.

And a big yes to Piper's covers!

Thanks for all the suggestions Belle.

BelleC said...

Hi Ruthy. I'm waving at you! And mmmm those strawberry and cream stuffed croissants are divine. I have truly fallen in love with Alaska. I hope to travel there this year. My husband has always wanted to visit Alaska, but I was the one saying I didn't think so. Now I"m all over it. And I really do love being a hybrid author. It's been a lot of fun, despite the juggling act. Blessings!

BelleC said...


Hi Jill. You mentioned my favorite thing-browsing in a bookstore. Sadly, I don't have many physical bookstores around me anymore, with the exception of Barnes and Noble. Thanks for the kind words, Jill. So happy you're part of the Love Inspired team.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Belle and welcome to Seekerville. What a great article and you are so right. A great cover really does draw the reader in. When I read, I love to refer to the cover over and over. I love it when the cover matches the characters.

Your covers are lovely. I can see why they are winners.

Thanks for sharing and for the great tips. Have a fun day.

BelleC said...

Hey Piper! Thanks for the kind words, although I'm not sure I deserve them. Your covers have always been spectacular. You knew what you wanted to convey and you chose a very talented cover artist to depict it for you. They are all winners!!! I'm so happy that your covers have brought readers and fans your way!

BelleC said...



Hello Deb H. WOW! A graphic artist in the house. I'm bowing to you. What a fascinating job. And I totally agree with you about blah covers and a gorgeous cover with a ho hum storyline. It all needs to be in alignment. A gorgeous cover will not compensate for a terrible story. And YES...the Seekerville ladies know how to rock some serious cover art.

Cate Nolan said...

Good morning, Belle. You know how much I adore all your covers!!!! I absolutely agree about the pull of a good cover. Anything with a beach or a lighthouse gets me every time.

One of the hardest lessons for me to accept as a suspense writer was that LIS doesn't do those sweet, pretty covers. Nope, must look scary and suspenseful. DUH! So the sweet, decorated-for-Christmas cabin that I sent them with my AFS for Christmas in Hiding - they must have had a good laugh - before they turned it into the scary looking, tumbledown shack that appeared on the cover.

And I agree with Mary. I fell totally in love with the house on the cover of "Forever Her Hero." I want to live there!

BelleC said...



Hi Jackie. You make an excellent point. Authors work so hard creatively to bring our stories to life. A great cover is the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae. And you mentioned iced chai which is my absolute favorite drink of all time at Starbucks. I just heard they are raising prices again so I'm going to have to figure out how to make them at home.

BelleC said...



HI Kav. I'm so thrilled that you're enjoying the Alaskan Grooms series. And your comment reminds me of two things. I did once rip covers off some Love Inspired books so I could decoupage a purse. And two...my husband did something really cool for me last Christmas. He went online and downloaded all of my covers then framed all of them for me. It was fantastic and probably the best gift he's ever given me. It showed me that he's really been paying attention all this time. He's a lawyer who doesn't read fiction much, but he is surely proud of his romance writer wife.

Myra Johnson said...

Love all these cover tips, Belle--thanks for being our guest today!

I've been blessed with some wonderful cover designers at the various publishing houses I've worked with. You're so right about being diligent about carefully filling out those cover art forms!

Nicky Chapelway said...

I totally agree! Covers are very important, a certain author (Tamara Leigh) comes to mind when I think about that. Her covers are so beautiful- I want to read her books so bad!- but my mom says they are a little mushy so I think I'll wait to read them a little longer... Also I found myself interested in the Throne of Glass series because i really like the covers.

I agree that sometimes you have to crack open your pocket book to get a good cover. I am an indie author and when my book was first published I had a totally free cover (something that was hand drawn by my sister and hand colored by me) but I wasn't satisfied with it so I went and bought a pre-made book cover and it so beautiful! I smile like crazy every time I see it.

You can see my covers on Amazon- the book is titled A Week of Werewolves, Faeries, and Fancy Dresses- and compare the two (my first cover is still the cover for my e-book). There is a totally noticeable difference.

BelleC said...


Hi Laura. #2 and #5 are very important to me as well, so I'm glad you picked up on those tips. Thanks for the compliment on my covers. I honestly love each and every one of them. Blessings.

BelleC said...



Hi Becky B. I totally lucked out on the cover for "A Match Made in Alaska." It was really a dream come true. I'm not sure who the cover artist is, but I owe him a gift certificate or something. He brought the world I created to life. And literally brought this author to tears.

BelleC said...



Hi Ediwna. A memoir! How thrilling. Waiting for cover art can be frustrating, especially since we know how important it is to get the covers out there for our readers. Marketing is so very important. I hope you get a fabulous cover for your memoir. Blessings.

Janet Dean said...

BELLE, welcome back to Seekerville. Thanks for the great tips for getting a terrific cover! All the covers in this post are eye catching. I especially love your LI A Match Made in Alaska!! It's breathtakingly beautiful!! Perhaps you can ask your editor and find out who designed the cover.

I've liked all of my LIH covers but my very favorite was my debut's head shot of my feisty heroine in Courting Miss Adelaide. If there's been a close-up cover since, I've missed it. Not sure why unless the face doesn't convey much about the story. For me, unless the setting is unique like in your Alaska book, I like covers to zoom in to see more of the couple and less of the background.

Janet

Julie Lessman said...

BELLE!! Soooooo nice to have you here in Seekerville, girl!!

You said: "I am an unapologetic cover snob. Please don’t judge me."

LOL ... unfortunately, I DO judge you -- as obviously brilliant when it comes to covers because I couldn't agree more!!

I have seen book covers that make me wince, they're so bad, and yet the story is wonderful, so there is no question in my mind that covers can make or break a book. And as much as we hate to come out and admit it, if you have people on the cover and they aren't appealing to the eye in looks or cover design, it will hurt sales. Period.

I remember how Revell gave me SO much input on my first and second book covers, that I felt bad for being so vocal and decided I would keep my mouth shut on book 3. Welllllll ... The heroine on book 3's cover had a really high forehead and since it was the 20s, her hair was flat to her head, so she reminded me of a cave woman. I cried, but decided I wasn't going to say anything, just pray about it. Would you believe my editor nixed that cover on her own and ordered a reshoot with a different model? Talk about answered prayer!!

And ... I am absolutely convinced one of the reasons my first book, A Passion Most Pure, did so well is because of the hero on the cover drew in readers with his moody look over a girl he couldn't have. In fact, I got so many letters from readers telling me HE was the main reason they bought the book, that I kind of wish I could have him on every cover. ;)

I can't tell you HOW many times I have heard readers say Jody Hedlund's cover for The Noble Groom caused them to buy the book, which of course, is wonderful on its own, but that cover??? WOWZERS!!

I have to say -- your covers are truly wonderful, Belle, both the two LIs (I'm not a big Alaska fan, but those covers had even me longing to go there in the book!!) and especially the cover for If Only in My Dreams -- WOW!! Not only do I love the title, but the cover is flat-out hot in a sweet, romantic way, so GOOD JOB!!

Hugs!!
Julie

Tina Radcliffe said...

Cate! I wish LIS did pretty covers too. Theirs are highly recognizable but stilll.....

Tina Radcliffe said...

Now seriously, for A Match Made in Alaska, what did you tell them in your AFS template? That cover exceeds all expectations. It's beyond gorgeous.

BelleC said...



Hi CathyAnn 40. I think we are in agreement. A great cover is like a blinking neon sign saying "Buy me. Look at me. Love me." LOL. Good luck winning "A Match Made in Alaska."

BelleC said...



Hi Connie Queen. I can tell simply by your name that you're a cover Queen as well lol. I love Deanne Gist's covers. They are so romantic. And I've already gone on record about Piper's covers. They are heavenly. And the great thing about a memorable cover is that readers really begin to associate the author with stunning covers. It's really a winning situation.

BelleC said...



Hi Sandra. Aww, you are so sweet. Thanks for the kind words. When I'm reading a book I often refer back to the cover. I like to see if the descriptions of the characters match the cover. It's really a bad thing when they don't!! We're very fortunate that the Love Inspired art department really does ask meticulous questions prior to the creation of the cover. It takes a long time to fill out those forms, but it is well worth it in the end.

BelleC said...



Hi Cate. Your comment about LIS covers cracked me up. When I first published with Love Inspired I became friends with Katy Lee, who sold at the same time as me. We compared our first covers and Katy couldn't help but comment that mine was pretty and romantic...while hers was gray and spooky. It was a really funny moment and it speaks to the differences between the lines. LIS does have some really action-packed, vibrant covers. And clearly readers love them. I can just see your romantic Christmas cabin. I bet they enjoyed turning it into a spooky cabin lol.

BelleC said...



Hi Myra. Thanks for having me on Seekerville. I used to love doing the AFS sheets, but to be honest it's hard. It's very time consuming and I really think we have to use all of our brain power to get it done. Although it is a bit of a chore now I never short-change it because, as we all know, covers are so important. That moment when we receive the email from Love Inspired and we get to see our cover is a wonderful moment. And it's even more fantastic if we see a masterpiece staring back at us. I have to give the LI Art department a shout out. They do such fantastic covers.

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Belle, I'm pre-published, but I love all the suggestions you share about creating amazing covers. With the exception of the first book I ever wrote (which may never see the light of day), I've had a difficult time envisioning a cover for my stories. I suppose I should really begin to consider this. :)

I definitely agree that a cover will definitely impact a book's sales. When I see a fascinating cover, I'll turn it over and read the back cover copy. And I'll be much more likely to purchase the book.

The covers you shared here today are beautiful! I love your, A Match Made in Alaska cover!

Kav said...

Oh, Belle, that's a great gift your husband gave you!!!! Hmmm...it's giving me an idea. Never thought about how easy access to colour printers could be a way to fulfill my dream of framing favourite cover art. But...would that be copyright infringement since I didn't write the book or create the art? Will have to check that out since the librarian in me can't quite cross that copyright line, you know?

And I'm pretending I didn't read about that decoupaging incident...though it's a really cool idea. But I can't go there. I just can't. There was an artisan making the rounds at craft shows here who created purses, keepsake boxes and clocks out of Nancy Drew books -- the original hard cover copies. She always sold out every year. Now, if it had been Trixie I would have been truly tempted. :-)

Chill N said...

Oh Belle ... you lived across the street for a library? Talk about a reader's dream!

The covers on your self-pubbed books are super examples of a recognizable style/brand using the same fonts and basic composition. Did someone design the font for you?

So much good information. Thank you!

Nancy C

BelleC said...


Hi Nicky! Tamara Leigh does have exquisite covers. You have good taste. She has a new one "Leaving Carolina" that is mesmerizing. And I get your point about your free versus non-free covers. As far as I'm concerned, covers are an investment. After all the hard work of writing the book...it's the cherry on top.

BelleC said...



Hi Janet. Thanks for having me on Seekerville. Yes! I need to find out who did the cover since it is really my all-time favorite. Really stunning. I would love to send the artist a note and a Starbucks gift card or something. Your "Courting Miss Adelaide" cover is beautiful. And I also can't remember seeing a close-up like that on a Love Inspired book. It really allows for such fine detail...and the purple color is lovely. Blessings.

BelleC said...


Hi Julie. Thanks for your sweet comments. I think my love of covers is very innate. My sister is an artist and I think it's in my DNA lol. And how wonderful that Revell gave you so much input and creative control. It pays off! And I love the fact that your editor organized a do-over. That is really wonderful. And great looking men will always sell romance novels so I'm not a bit surprised that the cover for "A Passion Most Pure" captivated readers. Readers really want to buy into the romance we're selling them. Thanks for having me on Seekerville. Blessings.

BelleC said...



Hey Tina...I wish I could remember what I put in the AFS sheets. Honestly, once I do it and fill out the sheets, it's out of my head. LOL. I do remember putting bride and groom on their wedding day and snow lightly falling all around them. I think the artist merged that vision with another depiction of the Alaskan pier with the plane in the background. SCORE!

Megan Besing said...

Hi. My name is Megan, and I too am a cover snob. Sorry! I try hard not to be. So Belle, you are not alone. :)

Mary Connealy said...

Hi Belle, great blog post!
I think it's so hard to get a cover right and it's so hard to define why one, done by a publisher, looks 'real' and another looks so clearly self-published.

Yours are great, in fact all these examples of different author covers look great.

Makes me realize all that is possible. I feel like we did well with our Seeker novella collections but some self-published books seem to have all the right elements and yet are glaringly amateur.

I'll re-read your blog post and try to figure out WHAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE.

(okay, thinking hurts my head, hmmmmmmm........)

Sandy Smith said...

That cover for A Match Made in Alaska is gorgeous! Please enter me in the drawing.

I do love book covers and often find myself drawn to choosing a book based on the cover. I work part time in a book store, so I get to look at lots of book covers.

I think Love Inspired does a wonderful job with attractive book covers.

LeAnne Bristow said...

Hi Belle! I love your cover. Love Inspired does such a great job with their covers. I'm in the middle of completing my AFS now for Heartwarming. I can't wait to see what my March book will look like! I really liked what you said about completing the AFS. Mine is due tomorrow...gulp...so you know I'm know going to be going over it carefully, keeping in mind everything you said.

BelleC said...


Hi Jeanne. My best advice to you would be to tap into the themes of your story to get ideas. Close your eyes and think about your characters and their journey. Consider the setting and any unique aspects. That always helps me visualize what I want to see on the cover. Best of luck with your books. Thanks for commenting.

BelleC said...


Kav..I'm pleading the fifth on the decoupaging incident. Although I will say the books were all slightly damaged. And yes, my husband pulled off a spectacular surprise. I don't think it would be copyright infringement to frame a cover that you love. Don't quote me on that though lol. It's not as if you're using the cover for something nefarious or for profit on the internet.

BelleC said...



Hi Chili N. Yes, indeed. I grew up across the street from a public library. In many ways it shaped my career as a writer. I read the book "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell and it is fascinating material. It talks about how you need to get a certain number of hours in on a subject-topic in order to become proficient and an expert. It led me back to the library and all the hours I spent combing the shelves and reading books. It certainly shaped me as a reader and writer.

With regards to the font, I worked with a cover artist to find one that would suit my taste and the covers. I'm a firm believer in collaborating with the cover artist.

CatMom said...

Thanks for sharing with us today, Belle.
I'll admit I've purchased many a book based on the cover. Since I love lighthouses, I tend to be drawn to books with a lighthouse on the cover. But there are lots of other things that draw me too---a beach scene, cats, a couple in love, etc. :)
I was thrilled that my local Walmart has started carrying LI books again (for awhile they didn't have ANY, and I was not a happy shopper, LOL). Anyway, in late June I found A MATCH MADE IN ALASKA and purchased it! I carried it with me on a recent family trip to our GA coast, excited to read it. BUT was so busy helping my daughter care for her foster children (ages 2 and 4) I had NO time for reading! So now that I'm home I can't wait to dive into it (and LOVE that cover, by the way).
Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Because of the proposals we turn in to LI, I know you plot. But on your own for your indies, are you a plotter or a pantser?

And then our Seekers wanna know question...do you sit at a desk or roam as you write?

Valri said...

Covers are very important to me. I must confess that if I see a "weird or strange" cover, i wont buy a book! I just don't! It might be a fabulous book inside but if the cover isn't great, I just pass. I have seen some mighty strange covers in my day! I always think, "what made the author/publisher think a reader would choose that book to buy?" !!!!

Belle's book covers are amazing! That's probably why I read them all! I just finished A MATCH MADE IN ALASKA last night. It was fantastic!!!! I loved it. Thanks, Belle, for your post! I wrote a review for Amazon this morning :)
Valri

BelleC said...



Hi Megan. Thanks for keeping me company with the cover snob thing. We need to stick together. Now that I think about it, it's not snobbery just an intense appreciation for beautiful covers. Thanks for commenting. Blessings.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Sandy Smith, I didn't know your part-time job was a bookstore. That's as good as working in a library. DANGEROUS JOBS. You want to take home all the books. I was really bad about cookbooks. A gorgeous cover and it went home with me.

BelleC said...



Hi Mary! Thanks for having me over here. And yes! The Seekerville collection covers have been wonderful. With This Kiss was particularly beautiful. Lovely colors that attract the eye. I think there are some really gorgeous self published covers. It's just like trad pub these days where you get the good mixed with the bad. I think the secret is to really pay close attention to detail and play around a lot with concepts. Having fun with it is important also.

BelleC said...



Hi Sandy! Oooh you work at a book store. Otherwise known as pure heaven. I adore book stores. Just roaming the aisles and inspecting covers and back blurbs is just such a luxury. I have a bad habit of buying way too many books. I have several shelves of books that are overflowing at my house. Luckily, I have a husband who is used to this indulgence and rarely comments about it. And yes, the Love Inspired art department really knocks it out of the park.

BelleC said...



Hi Leanne! Congrats again on your Heartwarming book. That is so exciting. And yes...making sure you are meticulous about the details on the AFS sheets will give you a great chance of a superb cover. One that you love and adore. And there is nothing quite as thrilling as seeing your first cover for a line. So excited for you. And I can't wait to see it as soon as you can share. Best wishes!!

Emma said...

I am looking forward to reading A Match Made in Alaska. Thank you for the opportunity to win. I enjoy reading your books

BelleC said...


Hi Catmom. Bless you for picking up "A Match Made in Alaska." I really hope you enjoy it. And I love that your daughter has foster children. I was so moved by that topic that I wrote a series about it...Seven Brides, Seven Brothers. I think fostering children is an amazing, selfless thing to do. And I'm sure she receives buckets of love from the children.

I also love lighthouses...on book covers and in person. I spend a lot of time in Cape Cod during the summer so seeing lighthouses is a nice bonus.

BelleC said...



Tina...I am a pantser way more than a plotter. And I roam around like a wild horse. I tend to sit at my dining room table, at the kitchen counter, in my bedroom, at my desk. I suppose it's fortunate that I can write most everywhere. While my husband is driving, I sit in the passenger seat and write write write. I also write when I'm waiting for my kids at appointments and outside in the yard. Here, there and everywhere.

BelleC said...



Hi Valri. You're such a doll! I'm so happy you enjoyed "A Match Made in Alaska." Thanks so much for the review. We authors love those! And I have also seen a lot of strange covers. It makes me scratch my head in absolute confusion. First impressions are very important. Why allow a reader to have any doubts about buying your book? I have no idea. Thanks for the sweet compliment about my covers. So far I am a very happy camper.

Sandy Smith said...

Tina, so true about the dangers of working at a bookstore. Your comments about the pretty cookbooks made me laugh. One of the girls who also works at the store told me the other day that a lady came in and bought $84 worth of beautiful cookbooks. When my coworker made the comment that she must really like to cook, the lady admitted she can't cook at all but likes to decorate her kitchen with pretty cookbooks so people think she does.

I'm not tempted to buy cookbooks, but there are plenty of others out there. I have gotten acquainted with new authors as well.

Sandy Smith said...

Belle, working at a book store certainly is a lot of fun.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I can relate. I used to buy them and not use them. Now I check them out of the library and don't use them.

Tina Radcliffe said...

LOL on the roaming. I find it so fascinating, the methodology of other writers.

I only roam if editing.

Debby Giusti said...

Belle, your covers are always so gorgeous! Love A MATCH MADE IN ALASKA! Oh my gosh, I want to read it NOW!!! The Love Inspired Art Department is fantastic, but you're right about the author needing to provide the details to make the cover picture perfect for the story. And your covers are exactly that!!!

Also love your indie covers. IF ONLY IN MY DREAMS...Oh my gosh, that kiss! Where did you find the pic? So romantic...and isn't Brandon a hunk!

I'll be starting my next AFS soon. Of course, suspense stories have a different feel...and we can't use those delightful kiss photos! My loss. But thanks for a great blog post on a very important subject. You've provided lots of food for thought!

So glad you could be with us in Seekerville today!

Hugs!

Janet Dean said...

TINA, I like cookbooks, too, but mostly use the tried and true recipes in my file. BTW, my recipe file is an old filing box with the metal "window" on the front.

Janet

Phyllis Wheeler said...

Great article, Belle!

Please enter me for a chance to win your book "A Match Made in Alaska."

I'd have to give more thought about what I like/don't like in a cover but I can say that cover designs do influence my purchases. And sometimes I've bought a book I never might have been interested in had I not seen the cover in person at a bookstore.

May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

Janet Dean said...

BELLE, I suppose too many closeup covers of heroines and heroes could get repetitious, though I love seeing the characters on the covers, the closer the better. Unless the art and the author's descriptions don't match up. Thankfully mine have.

We just visited an operating lighthouse on Lake Huron. I didn't realize until this visit that the kerosene was kept in a small structure away from the lighthouse as kerosene is very combustible. We've visited a lot of Oregon and Michigan lighthouses. Next is Cape Cod! So many lighthouses so little time:-)

Janet

Tina Radcliffe said...

Phyllis! Thanks for stopping by. A pleasure to "see" you. You are in the draw.

BelleC said...

Hi Emma. I had a lot of fun writing "A Match Made in Alaska." I named my heroine after my mother..my mother was Anne Murray and my heroine is Annie Murray. So this book really is special to me because I gave Annie some of my Mom's characteristics. I hope you enjoy the book if you happen to read it.

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Belle! Your covers are beautiful, and even though I don't read a lot of LI books, those covers would definitely compel me to check them out. Yes, I, too, am a cover snob. In fact, I just purchased a cozy mystery this week that I had seen on Twitter that was recommended by a publishing house I follow, based on the cover alone! Hubs and I were at the bookstore, and I saw it and immediately grabbed it up. I didn't even read the back blurb until we were in the checkout line!

In general, I love the covers of cozy mysteries, because it's a tricky balance between murder (something inherently dark) and the light humor associated with cozies. Cleo Coyle's Coffee House mysteries capture this well, and since she's on her umpteenth book in the series, they all look fantastic together since they all have the same style.

Have a wonderful day, and I look forward to finding "A Match Made in Alaska."

BelleC said...


Hi Debby. Waving at you. Thanks for having me on Seekerville. You brought up a very interesting point about my "If Only in my dreams" cover. It is one of my favorites and I always love a romantic kiss. A few months ago I tried to advertise an Indie book on Amazon. The title is "The Last Kiss" and the couple shares an almost kiss much like the one on that cover but their lips don't touch. Well Amazon refused to do a promotion for it because of the "almost kiss." I was shocked. They said what would happen if a little kid trolling Amazon saw this cover? HUH? So it's okay to have ghosts and paranormal oddities and blood and guts but not an almost kiss?? So thank you, Debby. I love romantic covers. And Brandon was one of my favorite heroes.

BelleC said...



Hi Phyllis. Thanks for commenting on my post. Yes! I've bought books purely for the cover images. It's one of my favorite things to do actually at the bookstore. Even for non-fiction books as well...biographies, cookbooks, humor books. And don't get me started on childrens books. There are so many series I purchased for my kids that drew me in based on the cover art. I can think of one that was particularly appealing. Fancy Nancy. Bright colors and tutus and all. Good luck in the drawing!

Glynna Kaye said...

Hello, BELLE! You have such delightful, romantic covers! Very eye-catching.

"Back in the day" when Love Inspired provided cover flats, I used to frame mine and hang them near my desk. I don't have a color printer, though, so haven't been able to print and frame the electronic ones they send. But maybe someday!

Covers DO attract reader attention and good ones scream "buy me!"--so it's sad when a book's cover doesn't reflect the beautiful, well-written story within or isn't true to the way a character is physically described

I can remember, though, back in the golden days of haunting libraries that there were few books that had cover artwork by the time they reached the library shelves, just a plain hardcover with, perhaps, the blurb from the missing book jacket taped inside the front cover. So no visual hints as to what treasures were inside!

BelleC said...


Janet...I love the idea of a lighthouse tour. Cape Cod and New England in general have some gorgeous lighthouses.

BelleC said...


Hi Stephanie. Hmm...the Queen in your name must be a sign that we're birds of a feather. I do love cozy mysteries too. It reminds me of when I was a teen reading Agatha Christie books. Maybe those weren't so cozy but...I loved Miss Jane Marple. Blessings.

BelleC said...



Hi Glynna. I really love the idea of framing cover art. It's inspiring for us to see the fruits of our labor. And the art department really does create some beautiful images. And what a shame about those books with missing art work and jackets. Somehow it's just not the same without them. Growing up we had a library room at home and I used to love just gazing at the covers of these grown up books. They were well beyond my ability, but visually I really appreciated their loveliness. To this day I remember one called "Through a glass darkly."

Tina Radcliffe said...

Belle, thanks for spending the day with us. I know you are on EST time and possibly still Beach Time, LOL.

You are a sweetheart and we are so appreciative of the generous giveaway.

Winners will be pulled right before the Weekend Edition, so keep the comments coming Villagers!

Tanya Agler said...

Belle, Thanks for the information about covers. I don't know if I'm a cover snob as I loved the plain black leather covers that graced Agatha Christie's books at my aunt's house. Nowadays a recommendation is more important to me, but I've learned from so many people how important covers are, and now that I'm a writer I do tend to look more at covers and I've become a little more critical about whether the colors pop and whether there are too many fonts and so I guess I do pay more attention to covers than I used to! And Piper's covers are truly lovely, a good match for the wonderful content within. I've read her Milford books, and I've also read your series revolving around the seven Donahue brothers, and Brandon's story is one of my favorites (along with Mac's).

Thanks for the post.

Connie said...

Yes, a beautiful cover is definitely a draw. As a former librarian, I can attest to the fact that if you had the same book on a shelf, one with a colorful dust jacket and one without, you would see the difference in the amount of checkouts between the two. I have seen many wonderful books weeded from our collection because the covers weren't visually appealing. So sad, but true!
Connie
cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

BelleC said...

Thanks for having me Tina. Being on Seekerville is an honor as usual.

BelleC said...



Hi Tanya. I see we have Agatha Christie in common. I used to read the paperbacks. The covers were very simple, yet mysterious. And they were very smart with the branding because they really all looked similar, yet with a different twist for each one. To this day "And then there were none" scares me a little bit. And thank you for reading my Seven Brides Seven Brothers books. Lots of readers love Mac and Brandon. I am like a mom with my heroes....it's impossible for me to pick a favorite.

BelleC said...


Hi Connie. Thanks for commenting on my post. You're a librarian. A fabulous occupation. My heroine Annie in "A Match Made in Alaska" is also a librarian. Clearly, I love librarians. And yes, I can imagine the difference between a book with a lovely dust jacket and without. Even now I have a collection of Harry Potter books and my youngest went to read them and destroyed one of the dust jackets. Let's just say I was plenty mad!!!

Megan Brummer said...

I love this! I've been day-dreaming about the cover for my WIP for weeks now. Someday... :)

The cover for "A Match Made in Alaska" is just beautiful! Definitely makes me want to read it!

BelleC said...



Hi Megan! Covers are wonderful things to dream about. I think that's the best way to go. If you can dream it and believe it...then it comes to fruition. Thanks! I sure lucked out with the cover. Crossing my fingers that the cover magic happens again. Blessings.

Beth F. said...

Oh my gosh! I totally agree! A cover is what mak3s me pick up a book in the first place. Then I read what it is about and see if I really want it. That cover image is so important+

Trixi said...

Sorry I'm so late! I'm blaming my playing reading catch-up for taking June off :-) But I DO NOT regret nor will I apologize for spending time with my precious family!

I totally, 120% agree with a book's cover being the beginning to drawing this reader in! If it's not eye-catching to me, I'll probably pass on by. Even if the story is THAT GOOD on the inside. I think having a good cover artist is very valuable and the key ingredient to your book! After all, you WANT people to read it, it's one reason you write. Secondly, I agree with what Leah Atwood says, ""A good cover should tell a story in line with the book. A poor cover or one with a misaligned story to the books theme will distract the reader and do an injustice to the book.” I've read books where the cover has little or nothing to do with the story and it's confusing or disappointing to me. I want to be able to anticipate what's in store for me inside. It's kind of like Pavlov's dogs....get them salivating by the cover alone & you'll have 'em begging for more! Okay, maybe that's a bad example, but I hope you know the intent behind that, lol! Or maybe blame it on my lateness and my tired brain :-D

Belle, I too, loved the book "Where the Wild Things Are" as a kid! I must have read it a million times and never tired of it! Another one was "Charlotte's Web". I had an older copy of it for years, it was quite tattered by the time I lost track of it. I'm sure if I thought more about it, I could come up with a few more. I think I must have been born with a book in my hand, lol! Though I've not YET read any of your books, I do have some on my shelf and I agree that your covers are quite beautiful :-) Especially "If Only in My Dreams"; it's a promise of good things to come!

I've seen WAY too many beautiful and gorgeous covers to simply name ONE favorite! I do love the ones that have the raised embossing on them because it adds the sense of "feel" to it. I love running my finger over it, always brings a smile to my face, and of course, makes me anticipate what's waiting for me!

Thanks for a wonderful post, Belle! It gives this reader something to think about. Please add my name in the draw for a copy of your book "A Match Made in Alaska", thanks for the generous offer :-)

BelleC said...


Hi Beth F. Thanks for commenting. Yes! Covers attract readers. I don't mean to imply that the content isn't important, but the cover is a nice way to attract interest and readers. I know that I have definitely bypassed books due to inadequate covers. And who knows? The book might have been briliant. Blessings!

BelleC said...



Hi Trixi. Great to see you here. And spending time with your family is priceless. You can never apologize for that or regret it. You were making memories! Trixi you brought me way back to childhood with your mention of Charlotte's Web. That was such a classic and I loved it. I can see the cover in my mind's eye so vividly. That is really the hallmark of a great cover...one you can recapture in your mind after decades. I adore the covers with raised embossing as well. Gorgeous feel to them! Good luck with the drawing, Trixi.

Rebecca McLafferty said...

Hi Belle. The cover of "A Match Made in Alaska" is stunning! I can't wait to read it. I am SUCH a Love Inspired fan. You are absolutely right...covers are vital to a book's success. I think that is even more important for an unknown writer. I appreciate the great tips, as I was unfamiliar with the process of how to supply information to the artist. Many thanks!

Jennifer Rumberger said...

Your covers really are wonderful! Your post about covers was very interesting as well. They are an important piece of a book and yes, many do judge a book by it's cover! :)

BelleC said...


Hi Rebecca. Thanks so much for the cover compliment. And I'm very happy to hear that you're a fan of Love Inspired. And if you do happen to read "A Match Made in Alaska"....I hope you thoroughly enjoy it. Blessings.

BelleC said...


Hi Jennifer. Thanks for commenting on my post. I'm glad you enjoyed it. And yes, covers are so very important. Especially now that there are so many different avenues to buy books. Books really need to stand out in a crowd. In a good way of course! Blessings.

Beth Erin said...

A beautiful cover grabs my attention and speeds a book to the top of my tbr! Thank you for sharing Belle! I especially admire your 7 brothers 7 brides covers! Dana Mentink's Sit, Stay, Love, Katherine Reay titles, are good examples of fresh and eye catching covers outside the box.

jacqui19 said...

Very beautiful covers. Covers always lure me in--then the summary. Would like to read this. Thanks.

Becky Lee said...

I'm so sorry, Belle. I didn't look at your cover past seeing the word Alaska & your name until I read this article & really looked at my copy. Completely missed the beautiful wedding dress & the sea plane. I'm reading it now & every time I pick it up my eye still goes straight to the title & snow & I still miss the details at the bottom of the cover. I am obviously not a cover snob.