Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Cover Reveal for The Trouble with Theft

Here is the book cover for The Trouble with Theft. It is absolutely stunning--I love it!

Of course, we never get the photo we want on the first try. Just like the first photo shoot, there was quite a bit of trial and error to get that perfect shot.

But the book cover is by far one of the most fun components of prepping a book for publication. The editing, the formatting, all the promoting and marketing—all of that is tedious and boring and so very time consuming. But the book cover . . . that’s fun. 

Sabrina was able to squeeze in a photo shoot when she came home for Christmas. This made all the difference in the world, because it just wouldn’t have been the same without her. 
Nancy readily agreed to pose for the cover, playing the part of Danielle Dillon. Patrick agreed to pose as Lyle. Both of them helped me with the book trailer for book one, and they were a dream to work with. 
Shooting the book covers for the Zoe books has followed the same pattern both times. Sabrina and I have had a rough idea of what we’d like to see, then we basically wing it. We always end up with something we hadn’t thought of going in, and it always turns out better than we could hope. So for the models it’s a lot of “stand here,” “look this way,” “turn your hand that way.” 
Because we were so pleased with the way the first cover turned out, we knew we wanted to go with a similar theme for this cover: the back-lit silhouette. Funny thing is, we stumbled upon that when we shot the first cover out of necessity. We were shooting outside, in the dark, and we needed better lighting. So we had Scott stand in front of the headlight of his truck and viola, the perfect silhouette. 
Because this book was about theft, we knew we wanted our bad guys to be inside, which meant no headlights. So we had to experiment with lighting. 
These photos were all taken in my house. At first, we used the front door. We liked the element of the stair railing, and it seemed plausible that art thieves would be near the front door. So we used a shop light I’d picked up at the thrift store last year to use while making the book trailer, and we experimented with different light bulbs. 
Here is one of our first shots: (Nancy with her kitchen knife and priceless statue)

Then we added Patrick, and tried a different watt bulb: (you can’t see it, but Patrick has a gun, and he’s holding a priceless painting)

Basically, these were all too bright. Nancy is backlit well, but Patrick isn’t. We tried multiple variations and couldn’t come to anything that felt right. 
So we tried axing the shop lights and using ambient light from the basement. Here is the affect:


This is super cool because this light is red. The light bulb isn’t red; I have no idea why it appears red here. But as cool as this turned out to be, it’s too dark. Too much of the models is lost here. 
So we brought back the shop lights and tried draping various fabrics over them.



Here we were also trying to figure out the best placement for each model. As interesting as the railing is, it created a huge problem for fitting both models in the shot, and having both their weapons and both their art pieces visible. Nothing we tried looked very natural. 

And the lighting still wasn’t quite right. It didn’t have the same zing as the first cover did. So we moved on to our next experiment: opening the front door and putting the light on the porch.

This was closer for lighting, but now we were faced with a new problem. The doorway was a much narrower frame than the hallway had been, even with the railing. No matter what we tried, we couldn’t get Pat and Nancy, both weapons, and both art pieces in the shot in a way that was clear and didn’t look stupid. 
Here’s another:

In this one, the lighting is damn near perfect, and as an added bonus, we got a really cool shadow of Pat and the gun on the wall. But Nancy is pretty much lost in the open doorway. We tried squishing her in beside Patrick, switching them, everything—we couldn’t get both of them to turn out well. 
But using the door and the lighting this way let me know we were on the right track. We were getting closer. So I brought everyone inside and we did the same thing with an interior door. 
Here’s an early version:
Boom! Now we were really onto something. This was what I was going for!
But we hadn’t yet fully arrived. Sabrina axed the statue. No matter how Nancy held it, it was either obscured or it looked like an extra appendage. And it detracted from the knife. 
So we tried this:

And that was it. This was the photo we had been working up to all night. We finally had the lighting right, the props right, and the models arranged right. 
Here is the final photo:

And this is the final book cover:


There is no official release date for The Trouble with Theft, but it's coming soon. You can get started reading now. There will be a new chapter every week until the book is released. 
Read chapter one now.

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