My Fair Concubine – Guess My Cover Contest

It’s three months until the release of MY FAIR CONCUBINE (May 22 – print, June 1 – ebook) which means about now is when I get antsy wondering what my next cover is going to look like.

The joke in the industry is that we, as authors, fill out all sorts of detailed story information to help the publisher come up with the cover. Then marketing just ignores it and puts whatever they want. I have no reason to complain as the cover gods have been quite kind to me, but I thought it would be fun to let everyone in on the “guess my next cover” game.

So, I’m going to provide the information I gave to Harlequin regarding MY FAIR CONCUBINE. You’ll guess what the cover will look like. Closest guess gets an advance autographed copy of  My Fair Concubine. Best guess — meaning the concept I like best that didn’t make the actual cover — will also win a copy.

For Harlequin, we actually have a detailed Art Fact Sheet website where authors are supposed to input story summaries, character descriptions, themes, scenes, links to relevant pictures, the works. It’s quite detailed. Sometimes your editor goes in to input the info, but it’s supposed to be the author’s responsibility. For My Fair Concubine, the team began working on the cover early so my editor gave them some details and they gave me a list of questions.

Unofficial story summary:

Chang Fei Long has been called back home upon the death of his father to learn that the family is swimming in debt. Before his death, his father arranged for Fei Long’s sister to become an alliance bride to regain favor with the imperial court. When Pearl begs for mercy, he can’t bring himself to force her into marriage and exile to a barbarian land. As a result, he has to come up with another false princess to go in her place.

Yan Ling is a servant at the tea house where Fei Long goes to brood about his troubles. When she mistakes his musings as a proposition for sex, she dumps a pot of tea on him and gets thrown out into the streets. Now homeless and destitute, Yan Ling begrudgingly accepts Fei Long’s offer to train her as a replacement princess.

This lighter look into Tang Dynasty culture takes place in the capital city of Changan, going from courtyard mansions to the infamous entertainment district to the seedier parts of the city. In an homage to the classic story of My Fair Lady, Fei Long and Yan Ling are joined by a clever maid and a flamboyant actor as they work to fool imperial rivals and navigate the complicated landscape of their growing attraction.

My editor asked for some reference pictures and I sent her some of the pictures that I had used for research. Also I let her know that I used many visual references from the movie “House of Flying Daggers” for the hero.

And some additional info the art department asked for with my answers:

Ø Specific colour description of heroine’s robe
Ø Is it a kimono type robe?
Jeannie: The robe looks very similar to a kimono, but less elaborate and more wearable and mobile.  Hanfu robes were actually the style that inspired Japanese kimono. The best examples of authentic Tang Dynasty robes can be found here:

The hanfu is always folded left over right. The more revealing styles with bared shoulders or neckline are for song girls and courtesans. (ex: WHF-049). Young ladies of noble birth in the capital would wear something loose and flowing often mixing a lot of layers and colors. (ex. WHF-059)

Ø What type of sword is the hero carrying?
Jeannie: The sword is a straight-bladed Chinese jian. Considered the gentleman of swords, it’s the one most likely carried by an officer and a nobleman. (see picture)

Ø What would a squad captain wear?
Jeannie: Soldiers are often depicted in armor, but that may not be realistic for being off the battlefield. I included three reference pictures. The drawing is a bit closer to theater costume which is often exaggerated but I hope they help to give an feel. (see pictures)

Ø And would the horse be dressed up too?
Jeannie: The horse would not be dressed up.

Reference pictures:

Note: In my mind, I actually had Takeshi Kaneshiro (House of Flying Daggers, Red Cliff) in mind for a secondary character, Li Bai Shen, but hey…he’s not bad hero material either.

All of this has me expecting a pretty kickass cover…but you can never tell what the final version will look like. So join me in the waiting game and guess my next cover.

To enter:

Comment and let me know what you think will be shown on the cover. Will both the hero and heroine be shown? How will they be dressed…or how undressed will they be? *tee hee* What will the color scheme be? What about the background?

And oh yes, will the hero have a whole head? Half a head? Or no head at all? 🙂

Closest guess and best guess wins a copy of MY FAIR CONCUBINE when I get my author copies a month before release.

Contest ends when my cover is revealed, which I’m hoping for within the next two weeks. *giddy*


  1. Eve
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 18:28:46

    This sounds fun.
    I’m guessing the hero will stand behind the heroine. He’ll have a half a head (sadly) while we can see her face as clearly as we do Ai Li’s. He won’t wear an armor but will carry a visible jian, maybe holding it to the right.
    The heroine might be staring straight at the camera, looking determined. Her dress is just a little off the shoulder. I’m hoping she’ll carry a fan and hold it with both hands, but chances are she’ll be empty-handed.
    The background might be similar to those of your previous two novels.

  2. Beth Matthews
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 19:23:17

    I say hero full headshot, gazing down with a smoldering look at the heroine. I think he’ll be wearing robes, probably half undone so we get some bare chest action.

    Heroine’s face in profile with her hair down like on Capturing the Silken Thief. Her body is facing front with her back pressed against the hero. Her clothes are probably more off than on, more courtesan than the young lady style.

    It would be cool if they had some Chinese architecture behind them like in the reference pics.

    I suspect the cover artists want to work the sword in somehow but I’m not sure how…

  3. angel Graham
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 04:45:37

    I think that only the heroine will be shown…at least in full. The hero may or may not appear…but if so, I’m betting he’ll have no head, as this sadly has become the norm on so many covers. *shudders, headless hero’s* She’ll most likely be wearing the hanfu-styled robe. There may be some Chinese architecture behind her, I foresee much red…and gold.

  4. Jeannie Lin
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 11:37:51

    @Eve – A fan! That would be a nice touch

    @Beth – The courtesan style is definitely the sexier look 🙂 I am hoping they work in the sword. Not that the book has any swordfighting in it…just because I like swords 🙂

    @angel – I think the rule is if he is bare chested, he can be headless. If he’s just partially bare-chested, he gets a head. Course, I haven’t researched this any.

  5. Susan Blumberg-Kason
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 23:18:55

    I think it will just feature the woman, because she’s in the title. But I don’t think it will show her face. I’m picturing Gong Li in Raise the Red Lantern–an old Chinese courtyard palace, red lanterns, sultry heroine. But a back shot or side shot without showing the face.

    I’m so excited to read your new book!!

  6. Giora
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 06:36:25

    I have no idea, Jeannie, but I enjoyed viwing the Chinese clothing website and the Reference pictures. The purpose of the cover of a Romantic book from Harlequin is to attract potential readers. Looking at the Chinese clothing website, the most seductive cover will be from WHF-028, where Yan Ling siting in the same pose and clothing, and Change Fei Long stands in the left side of the picture behind Yan Ling, and looking like the man from the still picture from Red Cliff. Best wishes with the new book.

  7. Victoria Dixon
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 07:22:46

    I’m going with Fei Long (Oh please, let it be a full-body shot) standing clothed and armed behind Yan Ling who he may be helping on/off with a robe. I’m going for both seduction and a hint of suggestion to the My Fair Lady reference. Love the pictures and I think I’ve been in the courtyard shown in your first picture. If not, the place I’ve been looks the same. Wish I could go back! LOL

  8. Jeannie Lin | Award-winning historical romance author
    Mar 03, 2012 @ 11:32:59

    […] week I took entries in the Guess My Cover Contest on what the cover would look like based on the info I gave to the Harlequin art department. The […]