Shana Galen
Shana Galen


book covers, Historical Romance, Our Books, Shana Galen

When You Give a Duke a Diamond

Recently, I got the most awesome opportunity. My editor emailed me images of three couples (that I cannot share–boo!) and asked me to choose the couple I wanted on the cover of an upcoming novella.

I haven’t been in publishing for a long time, but my first book did come out in 2005, and I promise you, in 2005 no editor was asking any author which couple she wanted on her book. How times have changed!

So I fretted and paced and looked at the pictures over and over. I asked questions (to which the answer was no, you cannot mix and match) and I looked at my Pinterest inspiration board for the novella. I chose a couple and hoped I’d chosen well.

And then, two days later, I received another email with four poses from the models I’d chosen. Now I had to pick which pose I wanted. Oh, the pressure! The one where they’re looking at one another? The one where his shirt is off? The one where he’s looking directly at the reader, and she’s looking slightly overwhelmed by his handsomeness? I picked one, closed my eyes, and pressed send on my reply to my editor.

Is it over yet? I don’t know. I was told to disregard costumes and everything except the pose. I sure hope I get to see more of the cover as it evolves. I love having such a big part in what will go on the book.

And this has also given me some insight into how covers are created. It’s a process of picking and choosing and then, I imagine, some Photoshopping.

Of course, there are some photo shoots, too, but I haven’t been invited to one of those yet. In case you’re interested in how those work, here’s a link to a video from a recent romance novel photo shoot my publisher hosted.


Are you surprised many authors have so little input in their covers? Would you be surprised to know that of the covers I’ve posted here, I had no input in When You Give a Duke a Diamond and the designers followed my suggestions almost exactly for If You Give a Rake a Ruby? Let me know your thoughts. One person who comments will win either When You Give a Duke a Diamond or If You Give a Rake a Ruby–your choice!


67 thoughts on “Under the (Book) Covers

  1. Laurie G says:

    You hit two homes runs. I find the colors bright gold and vivid scarlet to be quite eye-catching. The gowns are gorgeous as are the cover models. Plus the gown’s colors match the jewels in your titles…perfection!

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Thanks, Laurie, though I really have to give credit to the graphic designers. they’re so awesome. I met the designer who did LORD AND LADY SPY (which is my favorite cover thus far), and we were both total fan girls of the other.

  2. Stefanie D says:

    I´m not surprised authors don´t have a lot to say about what the cover of their book will look like. But I think it´s great that that is changing, because what other person than the author knows best what the hero and heroine look like, how they would hold each other, etc. And I just love it when the cover really represents the story.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Stefanie, it is definitely changing, especially with the ease of modifying covers using computer programs and all the authors self-publishing. Once you have that kind of control, I imagine it’s hard to give up.

  3. They’re both beautiful, Shana! I too get some input in my covers, but that wasn’t always the case. I really appreciate it when I get to weigh in. Not quite as much as you do, but heck! Wouldn’t it be fun to pick the models! And in my case, to see the doggy during the shoot!

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Yes, Kristan! Julie Ann Walker got to go to one of the shoots for her book covers, and I was like, why don’t I get invited to these things? I guess because they don’t do them in Houston.

  4. I’m really glad I get some input into my covers, because I cannot tell you how often a blond hero is in danger of being brunet. Some people think that’s a detail, but a lot of readers do not. Moreover, there’s no excuse for getting it wrong when we specifically describe our characters in our marketing summary. Mostly, I’m glad I don’t have any three-armed heroines. Love your covers, Shana. They say historical romance beautifully.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      I agree, Grace. Sourcebooks is usually pretty receptive to author feedback on covers. Readers really do look at those covers, too, and if the hero or heroine doesn’t fit the description, they are understandably upset.

  5. alisha woods says:

    I have had this discussion several times, due to the fact that in the past I know a lot of covers of books I had read didn’t match characters in the book. My biggest peeve was Pleasure for Pleasure by Eloisa James. The cover shows Josie the heroine as slender, but if you have read that book and the previous ones featuring her sisters you know that Josie is a plump girl. Then others have heroine’s on the cover with blonde hair then in the book they describe them as a brunette. Very, glad to hear authors finally getting some say

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Alisha, hopefully as writers get more input, there will be fewer of these sorts of errors. However, I really can’t think of a romance cover with an even slightly overweight heroine on the cover.

  6. Ebony Morton says:

    I’m a little surprised its your book I did think authors had more input into that. Well they are beautiful covers! !!!’ 🙂

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Ebony, it’s a common assumption. I get the blame and the praise when, most of the time, I deserve neither!

  7. vickie says:

    I already new that authors had so little input – a cover can make or break a book sometimes and the publishers have alot at stake as well as the authors – hence they use marketing staff to design covers. A lot of books are published overseas as well – they need trained people to design covers that will fit with those demigraphics as well.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Good point about the overseas covers, Vickie. What works here doesn’t necessarily work in Japan or Brazil.

  8. Kathleen OD says:

    They should have more say, after all the cover should reflect their story…But I must say that whomever does these covers has done a great job.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      I agree, Kathleen!

  9. Kathryn in Montreal says:

    I think that while you have to trust artists and graphic designers and editors who know what will sell, the author has such personal vision of their book and the whole creative process — I really think authors should be more involved.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Kathryn, good point! These people do have a sense of the market and what is selling now.

  10. Karen H in NC says:

    I love the covers on all your books…all the way back to When Dashing Met Danger. I’m glad they are giving you a say in what will be on the cover…looking forward to seeing it!

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Karen, WDMD has a special place in my heart. My first cover!

  11. Rebe says:

    I’m actually surprised that you had any input at all! I’ve seen plenty of covers in the past with the wrong hair color on the hero/heroine or the heroine is supposed to be “plus sized” and yet she’s a skinny mini on the cover. Glad that you were able to choose!

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Rebe, things are changing, I hope. Sourcebooks is even asking readers to choose their favorite pose or look. I saw Kieran Kramer’s publisher did this recently too.

  12. Maria says:

    Yes, I’m very surprised that authors don’t have much say about covers! I would think you would trust the author who wrote the great story you’re publishing! That said, I can see that many writers have been unhappy with movie versions of their books so I guess it stands to reason that you wouldn’t have much of a say for covers. How about titles? Do you get to pick titles? Or at the very least, approve them?

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Maria, I haven’t chosen many of my titles, but I do get to approve them most of the time. I have been overruled a few times. None of the books out under Shana Galen were titles I chose, but my next Lord and Lady Spy book, TRUE SPIES, is my title.

  13. Maria P says:

    I’m really surprised (& shocked!) that you had no input! You know best about the books since you wrote them! Is that true of most authors? Maybe it’s because they are 2 completely different mediums, although writers do draw pictures in their readers’ minds. Who knows?! I guess it’s the end result that counts, & your covers are always striking!

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Maria, sometimes I am glad I don’t have the pressure of coming up with a cover concept. I don’t always have a vision, but when I do, it’s nice to be listened to.

  14. eap says:

    I thought authors had more input into their covers too.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Very surprising, eap, isn’t it?

  15. Ann s. says:

    I’m guessing some publishes think they know what will sell a book. Your covers have all been beautiful so I was a bit surprised that you had almost no input.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Ann, publishers often do know what will sell. But they are not right as much as they think they are!

  16. Cerian Halford says:

    I always thought authors had more control over the covers 😯 It must be so hard to pick the right cover and models. I suppose when you know your own characters so well, the models then have to represent them. Both of these have gorgeous covers though!

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Cerian, I am still second-guessing myself about picking the right models. The pressure!

  17. Liz V. says:

    At the least, authors need sufficient input to avoid egregious errors. There’s nothing more irritating than pages about the allure of the heroine’s auburn hair, coupled with a blonde cover girl.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      LOL, Liv! I’ve read a few of those 😀

  18. Melody May says:

    When I see a fantastic cover, I usually ask the author if they got a say in the cover. Most of the time the answer is no I just got lucky. That’s really sad that most authors don’t really get a say on the cover. I think you guys should get more say since you are the ones writing the book and put so much time and effort into the story. That explains a lot when the cover doesn’t match the description of the hero/heroine.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Melody, I am always happy when I get lucky with a nice cover.

  19. CateS says:

    I’m sure that there’s a marketing plan involved along with what’s currently ‘popular’especially if you look at your own collection of books by sorting them into ‘publishing era’… I’m sure you’ll see a pattern develop in background color, costume color, pixs of couples [headless, facing away, facing each other, etc], and so forth..

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Cate, you are absolutely right. There are definitely trends in romance covers. I totally see that in my covers over the years. Different publishers also have different “styles.”

  20. Shanah says:

    I was surprised when I first heard that authors have so little input in their cover designs. I always wondered why authors were so surprised, delighted, or abhorred by their covers when they saw them, because I thought they had already known what their covers would be.

    I am still fretting over cover designs and I am probably going to try the self published route, which gives me more control, but a whole lot of slog to get through to find good covers.

    Thanks for sharing! You are fortunate to have a wonderful publisher who has excellent taste in cover art! I hope you get to have many more opportunities to give input for your covers in the future, too!

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Shanah, I can’t imagine going through the process of picking a cover for your book when self-publishing. I know Ashley March/Elise Rome did a great blog on that topic when she was still a JQ.

  21. Kirsten says:

    Both your covers are pretty. But I can imagine that if the couple on the cover does not fit with your idea of the H/H you wrote about it can be dissapointing. It would be good if you can always have a say in what’s the first impression people get of your book.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      I have been disappointed with some of my covers. I never liked the cover to BLACKTHORNE’S BRIDE, for one. I still hate that cover. If it is ever reprinted, I want a new cover.

  22. Trudy Miner says:

    I was surprised when I originally learned that authors had no control over their titles; I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to learn that they have no control over the covers too. I’m glad that you did have impute on “When You Give A Rake A Ruby” though; I do so love the color red!

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Trudy, it’s my first red cover!

  23. catslady says:

    You’ve got some gorgeous covers and I think it’s wonderful you had some input. I know I was really surprised when I read that many times authors have no choice in covers or titles. They’re your “baby” and I think all of you should be able to have a bigger say although I’m sure the publishers think they know best (which sometimes maybe they do lol).

    1. Shana Shana says:

      You do learn to give up control of your “baby” when you’re an author, catslady. There is so much that’s out of your control.

  24. Mary says:

    This came as a surprise to me, as with how authors often don’t have the final say in their books’ titles (Learned this with Maya Banks’s Never Seduce a Scot). I would have thought that authors have reign over most aspects of their works, since they created it, of course, but I guess the editors do more than just edit the books. 😉

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Mary, I didn’t come up with the series title for these books or the title for WHEN YOU GIVE A DUKE A DIAMOND. I did have input, though. A reader helped choose IF YOU GIVE A RAKE A RUBY, and I think one of my friends suggested SAPPHIRES ARE AN EARL’S BEST FRIEND, and my editor went with it.

  25. Minna says:

    Lovely covers!

  26. donna ann says:

    while I would think that the authors would have some say in the cover, I’m not surprised that it would be limited (particularly with newer authors). marketing, artists & authors all have their strengths and that’s where they will excel, & while a writer may be able to create wonderful pictures via words, doesn’t mean that that will translate to the creation of a book cover that will catch the eye of potential readers. both your covers are lovely.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Donna Ann, I do think the more veteran authors have more say in their covers. I doubt Julia Quinn or Eloisa James get a cover they hate.

  27. Olga says:

    Beautiful book covers

  28. Joy G says:

    I love the covers Shana, I’m sorry that authors have little say in the covers, but, so very glad that it’s starting to change =)

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Thanks, Joy. It’s a fabulous and a scary prospect, all at the same time.

  29. Lorelei says:

    I love your covers! They are so eye-catching and beautiful, my favorite colors, too! Total jewels 😀 I hope the next ones will be an emerald green and saffire blue! I’m glad you get some input, authors should have a say, it’s their creation, no?

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Lorelei, I believe you will get your wish (in part) with the third Jewels book!

  30. Barbara Elness says:

    I’ve heard for a long time that authors have no say over their covers. I think it’s awesome that you are getting some say in some of your covers now, but man, what pressure. 😀 If it was me, I’m so indecisive I’d be dying, but still glad to get a say in it.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      But you’re exactly right, Barbara. It IS pressure! Sometimes it’s nice to be able to throw your hands up and say, “It wasn’t me!”

  31. Quilt Lady says:

    I love both covers but am surprised that authors don’t get a choice in what is put on the covers of their books.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Quilt Lady, we usually send in a description of the characters and a suggestion for a direction. Then the designers do their thing, which may or may not resemble our ideas!

  32. bn100 says:

    Not really surprised since a lot of authors have mentioned that before.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      It is definitely something a lot of authors would like changed, bn100.

  33. chey says:

    I’m not surprised. I’ve seen so many covers that don’t quite “fit” the book. Someone always is dressed inappropriately for the book or the brunette is a blond on the cover.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Well, the dress is never really accurate, Chey–at least not on mine. I mean, what guy runs around without a shirt in England in the nineteenth century?

  34. Janie McGaugh says:

    Both covers are gorgeous, but I especially love the colors on If You Give a Rake a Ruby. I didn’t realize that authors were starting to be allowed input into the covers, and I think it’s great!

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