Kristan Higgins
Kristan Higgins


Jaunty Post

The wonderfully talented Deeanne Gist joins us today to talk about the making of her latest cover for It Happened at the Fair.

1_Castles in the AirI got a call from my editor. “Do you remember back in the 90s when Christina Dodd’s cover had a heroine with three arms?”

“Very much.”

“Well, look at It Happened at the Fair. Do you see anything unusual?”

I quickly grabbed the book. The cover model had the right number of appendages. Then, I looked closer …

“Get out!” I half-choked. Then I giggled. Then I laughed out loud. “This is awesome!

My editor gave a sigh of relief followed by light laughter. “I thought it was pretty funny, too.”

3_close up of bugCan you see our little surprise—“little” being the operative word?

Yep. A bug. The heroine has a bug on her shoulder. That is not supposed to be there. I’ve already received fan mail about it.

A gal from Australia sent: “Why is there a bug on Della’s shoulder on the cover of the book? Once I knew about Cullen’s allergies, I spent the rest of the book dreading him being stung by a bee and going into full anaphylaxis or something!” LOL.

Am I upset? Quite the contrary. I’m delighted. I think it adds a wonderful bit of flavor to the cover. My only regret is that the publisher has already Photoshopped it out of all electronic images on the web and has corrected the color plates so that any subsequent printings will be bug-free. (So if you want the collectible edition, you’d better get it before they run out!)

I interviewed Jeff Miller, the graphic designer, and after learning how many steps are involved in making a cover, it’s easy to see how a little bug there or an extra arm here could be overlooked. Here’s the shortened version of his process:

5_Hair-too-shortStep One: Jeff offers three design directions for It Happened at the Fair.

I think it’s so interesting how each design reflects different moods, perspectives and character emphasis. My publisher chose the first option—the cover in which we see the heroine through the eyes of the man who will fall in love with her. This was also my favorite of the three. (Btw, no one—not me, not the photographer, not the designer, not the publisher, not my editor, no one—noticed our “friend” on Della’s shoulder, yet it was on there from the very beginning. LOL.)

Step Two: Since the cover model’s hair style was too contemporary and the color didn’t match the heroine’s, we needed to make some adjustments:


6_Long HairStep Three: The hair color on the right is now correct, but a woman in 1893 would never go out with her hair down. Quite scandalous! So she needs an updo.



7_Bad-Hair-DayStep Four: As you can see to the left, the updo looks great on the model, but once it’s tucked up under the hat, the texture becomes too coarse. It Happened at the Fair’s hero, Cullen McNamara, says, “Her light brown hair was silky and in a soft twist.” So … new hair, please.





8_Silky-HairStep Five: Much better.

Jeff is now ready to do the final tweaking. He meshed together several coloring and texture techniques to give the book an antiqued look which serves as an indicator to the reader that the story is an historical.

“The below image,” he says, “shows the final cover with all the pieces in the process that it took to construct one cohesive design that effectively and accurately depicted a window into the story.”

Pretty crazy, huh? You can see how there’s so much going on that it’s easy to miss some puny little ol’ thing like a cricket bug. But bug or no, that dress is yummy, the heroine’s curvy, her hair is perfect, and the backdrop is provocative. Everything you’d want in a cover.

So, have you ever thought much about how covers were made? What surprised you most about the process? Leave a comment here for your chance to win an autographed hardback, limited *bug* edition of It Happened at the Fair.

Contest ends midnight, Central Time, May 18, 2013. Must have continental USA mailing address to be eligible to win.

10_Gist Author PhotoAbout the Author:

Speaking of great hair…Deeanne Gist—known to her family, friends, and fans as Dee—has rocketed up bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere with her very fun, very original historicals. She has received four RITA nominations, two consecutive Christy Awards, and rave reviews. Deeanne has a background in education and journalism and a degree from Texas A&M. She has written for People, Parents, and

Parenting. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and has four grown children. She has a very active online community on her website and at Read more about It Happened at the Fair here.

Deeanne is celebrating the release of It Happened at the Fair with an iPad Mini Giveaway and a Live Author Chat Webcast event on May 22! Details here.

Don’t forget to leave a comment on Jaunty Quills for your chance to win an autographed copy of It Happened at the Fair!


91 thoughts on “I Spy with My Little Eye

  1. Anna Weaver says:

    Wow, the bug is awesome! Good thing the model didn’t see it… If she’s anything like me, you be buttoning her back into the costume after she danced around, trying to get rid of it. 😀 Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. catslady says:

    I believe I heard that expensive handmade rugs were always made with one imperfection to make it unique. I think the bug makes it look more real! I love covers and am surrounded by my print books. It’s the reason I can’t get into ereaders although I was given one. My daughter does graphic design so I have some idea of how many steps things take. I wish she did book covers but it’s mostly logo work. I think your final cover is lovely!

  3. Renee koehn says:

    would love to win a book, i love her

  4. LyndeeH says:

    What fun to learn the details of the fly. This book jacket catches my eye with or without the bug, though. Congratulations, Deeanne!

  5. Mallen Roberts says:

    Wow! What a fun thing to have on your cover… I cannot wait to read this book. 🙂
    I personally wasn’t surprised about the process as I’ve done similar things and have seen other blog posts like this, describing the all the little details; but I was surprised the first time! It is truly difficult work and yet (almost) always comes out spectacular.

  6. Rachel Timmons says:

    The bug does add character! I have read all your books at least once! I love your work! Keep doing what your doing! 😉

  7. Martha J. Sturm says:

    I appreciate the authenticity of the cover. Didn’t realize how much work went into it. That bug just adds fun to it. Would love to win the copy

  8. Candy says:

    Wow this is quite the process that the book cover goes through. I loved you you showed the different hair styles. The is author is amazing! I’ve read all her books and would LOVE to add this book to my collection.

  9. Amy C says:

    How fun to see how the cover came to be and the fly unnoticed. Can’t wait to read the book. Thanks for a chance to win a copy!!

  10. Cindy Kirk Cindy Kirk says:

    Love the bug!

    When I first started reading I hated to have people on the cover of the books I read because if the image didn’t match how I envisioned the person it bothered me.

    Now I understand it often isn’t even how the AUTHOR envisioned them. lol

  11. What an interesting article! I noticed a dark spot but just thought it was a fold in the material or a shadow from a fold. Of course I have only seen pictures of the cover online but I would never have guessed it was a bug, too funny, lol.


  12. Kay Logan says:

    How fun! I love these books!

  13. bn100 says:

    don’t really think about it; wonder why a few books from different authors all feature the same cover

  14. Elizabeth Dent says:

    Wow , a bug on her shoulder is really wired .. But gets some advertising . I have not read this book and would love to win it . Sounds so good .

  15. Anne says:

    How delightful to learn this great story and I think the cover reflects the book well.

  16. ellie says:

    This is so interesting and a lovely post. Great story about how a cover is chosen.

  17. Lisa Johnson says:

    I love Dee and have all of her books and share them regularly with Christian sisters.

  18. Deeanne Gist says:

    Iftwo books have the same image on the front, bn110, that means the publisher/designer purchased the image off of a stock-photography site. That’s why I prefer it when the publisher does a photo shoot. That way I know no one else will have the same image on their cover as I do on mine. 🙂

  19. Deeanne Gist says:

    Love that about the imperfections in the oriental rugs, catslady!

    That is so true, Cindy Kirk. That’s one of the reasons I love that all my covers have the heroine’s features either cropped off or we only see her from behind. Then, the reader can picture her just the way they imagined! 🙂

  20. Donna D says:

    I never really tho’t about how a cover was done. Guess I just figured it was either a photo that had undergone some creativity – or maybe an artist’s drawing (on some at least). The bug adds character.

  21. Sharyn L says:

    I love seeing the behind-the-scenes of covers. Makes you realize how much work goes on for the outside of the book as well as the inside.

  22. Barbara Thompson says:

    I have wondered about the cover process and I am surprised at what it takes to make a great cover. You want a fantastic book cover to catch the reader’s eye. Thank you for telling us the process. Your book cover looks fantastic and sounds like a wonderful read. I love the bug!!! Thank you for entering me in your giveaway!

  23. Quilt Lady says:

    This would be a new author to me so I am looking forward to reading her work. I know I love pretty covers but have never thought much about how they were made. Love your cover bug and all.

  24. Mary Kay says:

    I’ve often thought about covers, and enjoy thinking about how to portray the story. (Also enjoy casting the eventual movie! LOL) But I did not realize how that tweaking is done. Thought they shot a model with the right color/type of hair, etc. to begin with. (I actually thought, Deeanne, you were the model!)Thanks for the insight, Dee, and the opportunity for a limited edition!

  25. Deeanne Gist says:

    Thanks for a great day of fun, girls! Remember: You have until midnight (CST) tomorrow (May 18) to enter the drawing!!

  26. Laurie G says:

    I’m amazed at how time consuming the book cover process actually is. DETAILS! AUTHENTICITY! I dislike it when the character in the book looks nothing like the cover model or a scene from Sydney is in the background and the story is set in Paris.

    The bug adds a bit of realism!

    Deeanne Thanks for your insight. Best wishes! You are a new author for me.

    1. Deeanne Gist says:

      I know! I feel the same way. 🙂

  27. Christin says:

    This is hilarious!!! Otherwise, I think It Happened at the Fair is one of the most gorgeous book covers ever. I loved the hairstyle before I read this and had no idea they could change the hairstyle that easily–but the end result was beautiful!

  28. Deeanne Gist says:

    Thanks, Christin! I love it, too. Bug and all. 🙂

  29. Cyrena D. says:

    I didn’t realize that so much detail went into altering a photo for a cover. I’m not so surprised that the cover model’s hair color would/could be changed, but the fact that her hair style was totally changed is amazing!!! I would love to have an autographed copy of the hardcover before the fly goes “POOF” from any future editions (I think it should be left there lol). I am in tears laughing at the notation on the cover photo up there next to “Step 1” where the fact that zippers were not used “back in the day” is mentioned 😆 I will have to admit that I was first attracted to this novel by the dress on the cover. As one who does heirloom sewing with fine laces, cotton voiles, and linens, I was immediately attracted to that gorgeous dress — I want that dress 😆 !! (There is a dress with a somewhat similar bodice and sleeve treatment displayed at the Kent State Museum). Even though this is not my usual genre of book to read, the subject is interesting and the story line is compelling — so I now I won’t have to feel guilty that maybe I purchased this book just because of it’s cover 😆 ; so, I can’t wait to have a chance to read it!! Thank you so much for the opportunity to win an autographed copy … have a lovely day!!!

    1. Cyrena D. says:

      Of course, upon closer inspection of the cover, I notice that that zipper was removed; however, the zipper wasn’t replaced by the fabric-covered buttons and the button loops that WERE used “back in the day” … 😆 Oh, well, this is fiction and make-believe, so the cover model will wear that gorgeous dress throughout eternity 😆

  30. Gail Ingis says:

    What fun Deanne. Love the bug and the cover. I would love to be a winner of your upcoming “At Happened at the Fair.”

    Good luck to you.

  31. Marissa E. says:

    I have thought a lot about the cover making process before! The cover is what attracts my eye so I always like seeing pictures of the model and everything that goes into it. What surprised me the most was that sometimes when a publishing house releases the cover online before the book comes and they receive a negative reaction from readers, that they’ll change it!

  32. Anne Payne says:

    That’s funny! On the computer screen I certainly never would have noticed it. I would love to win a copy.

  33. What a fun post! This is such a great cover and it was so neat to get the inside peek at how it all came about! 🙂

  34. Rhonda says:

    I’m sure we’ve all had a bug on us at one time or another! I never realized the complexity of the process! I’d love to read the book.

  35. Bonnie says:

    I admire beautiful book covers, but had never given a lot of thought as to how they were put together – interesting blog entry!

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

  36. Jackie M. says:

    I was surprised at how much work it took to make the hair style look so good. Deanne’s covers are always so beautiful, I’m not surprised that they put so much work into them.

  37. Karen H in NC says:

    Has a winner been drawn yet?

  38. Ann Mettert says:

    How fun to be in the company of Christina Dodd and the three arms cover. 🙂

  39. Minoli Doshi says:

    This is a beautiful cover!

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