Thursday, 13 February 2014

Who said the camera never lies? By Ann Evans

Cartoon-ified version of my
granddaughter Megan

I think the days relating to the old saying 'the camera never lies' are long gone. Just as well really, or we wouldn't have all the amazing book covers that we have these days. And while we all admire the work of writers and illustrators, there needs to be a big thumbs up for the amazing photographers out there who listen to our ideas and desires for book covers, and somehow come up with the goods.

I know I'm very lucky because my photographer friend, Rob Tysall and I have been working together for years. His photography has helped sell many hundreds of my articles to different magazines over the years. Like they say – a picture paints a thousand words. And articles definitely sell better when they are well illustrated with good colour images.

With the arrival of self publishing and ebooks, I asked Rob to turn his hand to creating some ebook covers for my out of print books. And thought it might interest you to get some insight into how various covers were created.

When bringing my (formerly) Scholastic Sealed Mysteries back to life, I wanted to call them Little Tyke Murder Mysteries'And I needed a 'little tyke' – a sort of cheeky youngster to be the logo. My granddaughter, Megan was the willing victim on this occasion, and my son brought her into the studio dressed in a pink baseball cap and boots, baggy shorts and top and a pink skateboard. She certainly looked like a 'little tyke' if ever I saw one. Rob took a variety of shots of her, then magically computerised the images to give her a cartoon-type appearance.


On the books my Little Tyke logo is tiny - you'll spot her leaning against the first letter of each title.

The background for these books came from very ordinary things, some red silk for Stealing the Show, a wooden box for Pointing the Finger, a section of water from an hydrotherapy article for Fishing for Clues and next door's brick wall for Pushing his Luck.

Become a Writer – a step by step guide was another book I needed a cover for. I envisaged a person climbing up steps to achieve their ambitions. A person – well, I'd do. As for the steps, why not a pile of books?

So Rob photographed the books first, I used a copy of the Writers & Artists, a dictionary, a cookery book and one or two others. He cleverly photo-shopped the titles on the book covers and replaced them with the words I wanted, eg. Charatcers, plotting dialogue; short stories, novels etc.

Then it was a case of photographing me, posing like a preying mantis, which he digitally cut out, shrunk and superimposed on the stairway of books. Throw in my notepad and pen, and voila!

I think one of the most stunning covers was for my romance A Tropical Affair. I originally thought about having he silhouette of a couple standing by a tropical bay at sunset. But then loved the colour picture so much, I went with that. So, did we hire two models and jet off to some exotic location? Ah, if only. No, we persuaded my daughter Debbie and her boyfriend Steve to come into the studio and pose in a romantic clinch. Once they'd stopped giggling, we finally got the pictures we wanted – against a white backdrop. 

Then back to the computer where Rob brought up some images he took when we were on a press trip to Geneva. Yes, there was a wonderful sunset over Lake Geniva. With some clever cropping it looked exactly like a tropical beach.

Some more digital twiddling (I'm sure there's a technical term) and hey presto! I have to admit Deb and Steve cringe whenever they see the finished cover, and the fact that Steve's dad had a very large poster made as a Christmas present didn't go down too well either. Can't understand it myself!

The latest cover is for Champagne Harvest, and here the images do genuinely come from the Champagne region. We went on another press trip a few years back to Champagne, and took lots
of photos of vineyards and champagne bottles. So it was quite easy to create this image, although again a lot of 'twiddling' to change the label to that of my hero in the story, rather than the original label. Although perhaps if we'd left it on, they would have been pleased with the free advertising, and sent us a bottle as a thank you! Or perhaps not!

So, if you ever hear the expression, 'the camera never lies' don't believe it.

Please take a look at my website:
And Rob Tysall's website – you might spot the Lake Geneva photo on there somewhere!


Chris Longmuir said...

I really enjoyed this article and it was intriguing following the development of your covers. They are lovely by the way, and the Little Tyke ones were my favourite.

Chris Longmuir said...

I've had a look at the Little Tyke books and think my granddaughter may like them, but she likes to read things in order, doesn't like to read book 2 before book 1. So, can you tell me the order of reading please? Thanks

Lydia Bennet said...

how interesting, yes the Little Tykes sound good!

madwippitt said...

Enjoyed this. And the story of the poster! :-0

julia jones said...

Photoshop = modern magic and simply brilliant - though I have to say that I feel pretty lucky that my friend Claudia Myatt is prepared to use old fashioned water-colour witchery to produce my covers. I watched her sloshing paint onto wet paper to build up the layers for the Lion of Sole Bay and I bleated about that not being the colour that I had in mind. Just watch, she said and the layers began to change and to mingle -- abracadabra.

Lydia Bennet said...

yes Julia, Claudia is fabulous! Ann, if your Little Tyke books are 'children's' is there an issue with using 'murder' in title/content, or do you class them as YA? I suppose if you are self pubbing, you can do what you like, just wondered if that's an issue at all (speaking as a crimewriter).

Ann Evans said...

Thank you for your comments. Chris, they are all stand alone books, so they can be read in any order. When they were first published by Scholastic they had a 'novelty' pull out chapter at the end. Couldn't do that with an ebook, so there's a link the reader can go to at a certain point in the story for some clues and red herring tips on my website.
Lydia, Scholastic particularly wanted murder mysteries for these whodunnits, so with the ebooks, I thought it important to let prospective readers know there was a murder to solve, so that's why I deliberately incorporated the words 'murder mysteries' into the title. However, it's murder in the best possible taste! We don't see anything horrible!!

Chris Longmuir said...

Ann, she's reading already and is liking the book.