I’ve just delivered the manuscript for the second book in my Garden of Allah series – “The Trouble with Scarlett” – to my marvelous editor Meghan Pinson, at My Two Cents Freelace Editing and so now I have turned my attention to the creation of the cover.
I was so pleased with the work Dan Yeager did at Nu-Image Design that I went back to him for this project too. I didn’t have a specific image in my mind but I did, at least, have a clue about what I wanted.
As The Trouble with Scarlett is set against the casting of Scarlett O’Hara in the movie version of Gone with the Wind, I knew that I needed a cover which incorporated a Gone with the Wind feel, but I didn’t want it to look like a romance novel. I didn’t want any prospective reader to think that it was a GWTW knock-off or parody. But I did want it to appeal to GWTW fans. As I couldn’t use any of the actual images from the movie, I needed Dan to come up with a GWTW-y feel.
Also, as Gone with the Wind was a landmark Technicolor production, I wanted this cover to reflect that. Whereas The Garden on Sunset was set in the sepia-tinted late 20s/early 30s world of the early talkies, this new book opens in 1936, the dawn of the Technicolor era so the cover had to reflect that.
I also wanted the title to be a GWTW-y style font. Not necessarily the same one used on the cover of the original book or in the movie, but something else which evoked it.
“Right!” said Dan. “Got it.” And amazingly quickly, he came back with:
First up was the font. I’d asked for a GWTW-y font but got the same font he used on my first book. He reasoned that this is part of a series and it’s better to have a cohesive look to the whole series, and one way to do that is to keep the same font throughout. Okay, fair enough. Good point.
I did like the colors he used. The vivid sunset and silhouetted tree were very reminiscent of that famous shot from the movie. But it looked a bit too romance novelish to me. Plus, the couple looked like they were out of the court of King Louis XVI of France, not the Civil War. So I decided to go with something else.
One of the key scenes in my novel takes place during the first night of filming on Gone with the Wind when they recreated the burning of Atlanta by setting fire to old movie sets (including King Kong and, ironically, a Marlene Dietrich movie called The Garden of Allah). It’s a very cinematic scene and as fire is a recurring image in my book, I wondered if perhaps Dan could recreate that famous shot of the stand-ins for Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh caught in front of those enormous, fiery movie sets.) And he did:
That is what I asked for but I didn’t like it as much. It didn’t say Gone with the Wind as readily as the first version did. Plus, changing the font from yellow to blue, the title got lost in the background. I follow a blog which analyzes book covers and the mantra there is MAKE SURE THE TITLE POPS OUT. So this version was a no-go.
But it did help me to realize that the cover needed to communicate in a single glance that this is a novel about the movie version of Gone with the Wind, not the book version. So I told Dan to go back to the first cover but come up with something that says: “HOLLYWOOD!” And as this book is about the casting of Scarlett, not Scarlett & Rhett, we need to replace the figure of the couple with a single silhouette of Scarlett, preferably something along the lines of As God is my witness… as in “As God is my witness, I will be cast in the role of Scarlett O’Hara!”
“And please,” I addded, “just to humor me, change the font to something GWTW-y. I’ve been picturing a cover using that font for a year. I need to know that it’s the wrong way to go.” And, patient man that he is, Dan complied.
Okay, now we’fre were getting somewhere. I liked the newspaper headline, and I liked the Scarlett silhouette. While I liked the new font, I decided Dan was right, we need to stick with the original. This looked too much like a blatant rip-off Gone with the Wind wannabe. Also, the red sunset and the blue sky made for too much going on in the background.
I decided that this book (and this series) is about Hollywood and so the cover needs to reflect that. The Hollywood aspect of the cover needed to be emphasized more and the GWTW aspect needed to be emphasized less. I was also concerned that Dan may have lifted the new Scarlett silhouette from a screen capture off the movie which, copyright-wise, is a no-no. So I asked Dan to ditch the blue sky, choose a different font color to make the title pop better, feature the headline more, and pull back on Scarlett.
So close! So close! I liked everything about this but two things. The new Scarlett looked more like an ink blob dripping off the newspaper headline, and the trees in the silhouetted horizon were obscuring too much of the headline.
I sent Dan back to the drawing board just one more time and I am now very excited to present the cover for my next novel: