Reference Pictures for Cover Art

I’ve learned that while you’re promoting a new book, you pretty much become your cover. It’s your calling card. The funny thing is people very often ask me if I posed for the cover of Butterfly Swords. (No, I didn’t) I’m tickled pink by even the thought that I could be a cover model.

As authors, we don’t get much control over our cover art, yet the cover can make or break the book. I do, however, get to send reference pictures to give the art department perhaps a little inspiration as they design the cover. None of the pictures I use for inspiration look exactly like my characters or setting. I use them for a certain feel. Somewhere in between, an image emerges.

I suppose the art department does much the same thing. This morning I sent along pics for The Dragon and the Pearl and I’m totally jittery nervous about what they’ll come up with.

I always felt this picture by DeviantArtist feimo captured the attitude of Li Tao, though he’s much younger and prettier than the cold-blooded warlord. I wish the print were for sale.

The power play between the jiedushi, the military governors, are central to the book. I sent a couple of pictures to highlight the look and feel of the warlords.

An artist’s rendition of Cao Cao from The Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Ah, Tony…from the movie poster of Red Cliff. I still need to see the uncut version…

We talk about setting as character in writing, but more needs to be said about clothing as character. Suyin’s wardrobe is practically a secondary character in The Dragon and the Pearl. The Tang Dynasty is all about the fashion: gorgeous clothing, creative hair styles, accessories, accessories, accessories. In the context of those times, Ling Suyin would have been considered a super-model.

I’m now a junkie of the Chinese Clothing online store. I’m actually thinking of buying this blue dress to celebrate the manuscript being accepted and, you know, just wearing it around the house.

And speaking of setting as character, the famous Bamboo Sea is where it all takes place. I dream of going there one day. It’s too bad hubby doesn’t like to travel or eat exotic foods. He does like pandas, I believe.

So can you see a killer cover out of all that?

Some of my favorite guest spots…

…are yet to come.

The blog tour is nearing the end, but as they say on stage, you need a big finish right?

Today, I’m discussing my experiences as The New Kid on the Playground at The Pink Heart Society. For fun, you get to check out my alternative titles for Butterfly Swords. Come back to the PHS on October 26 as they discuss Butterfly Swords as their October book club pick.

I’m also discussing *ahem* Sex in Ancient China, an educational post that should be up Wednesday morning at Dirty Sexy Books.

And the final guest blog this week is something I seriously debated doing. It’s about promotion. I’m hoping it sparks discussion, because there’s a lot I’m still wondering about author promotion and the conventional wisdom seems to be that “you never know what will work”. I can’t seem to take that for an answer. I want to know what can be known!

So at Bria Quinlan‘s blog on Thursday, I’ll be going “Inside a Grass Roots Marketing Campaign” and discussing what I learned from the promotion of Butterfly Swords. It’s one of the rare times you’ll see my business mind emerge.