At a book event, someone - a fellow writer, no less - complimented the cover of Dream of You. I was surprised and pleased. "Thank you!" I said. I wasn't about to tell anyone those were my shoes and my legs in the photo; I wanted to suspend the reality of it, hoping people would believe they were Ellie's legs, keep myself "out of the picture." But, then, she said, "Where did you find the photo? I know I've seen it before. Whose book was that on?"
This bothered me for a couple of reasons.
1) Suggesting I'd plagiarized someone else's book cover.
Every single one of my book covers is an original photo; none of them are stock images I pulled off the internet. I don't have a problem with stock images, but I don't want to use them. I want to be original. And to put so much thought and effort and time and money into a cover...and then be called a thief?!? Okay...calming down.
2) Authors shouldn't behave like high school girls tearing one another down.
I've had some very positive experiences with other writers, but negatives ones too. Being snide helps a writer in NO WAY. Criticizing someone in such a petty way is about the worst advertisement an author could provide, not to mention, it's unnecessary. We're all in this together. The publishing world is tough enough as it is; writers should be polite and respectful...and I can't believe I have to even say that.
I didn't react when the comment was made. I told her those were actually my feet, and laughed, recounting the story of the picture, and how bright the sun was that day, and how I was too hot in jeans. The moment passed. Working on the God Love Her cover, I was reminded of the event, and it got me reflecting on my covers.
As a reader, I prefer subtle covers. Minimalist, even. I want them to tease the book because. I don't feel like the cover should tell me the whole story. This is why I'm not a big fan of having a person's face on the front; it ruins my mental picture of the character. So when designing a cover, I like for it to be simple. Then the question is: But will my readers think the same way? Will they connect with the cover? Will they want to know more about the book?
I can only hope so.
But I've had some good feedback. And hey, if someone thought it was good enough to be stolen, that's a positive, right? :)