A couple weeks ago, I shared a guest post from Amy Anguish about the difficulty of coming up with a title for her novel, An Unexpected Legacy (originally called For the Love of Smoothies). Today I thought I’d take you behind the scenes of the cover design process for the book, from when it was smoothie-focused to what we ended up with!

Amy is also generously offering a GIVEAWAY of her book to one lucky winner, so be sure to read all the way to the bottom for the entry form!

When we first began work on this cover, Amy and her publisher, Sandi, told me they wanted a couple sitting at a table with smoothies, looking at a photo album. Fluttering down there would be a ripped photo.

In this first version, I hadn’t yet found a photo for the fluttering bit, so there’s just a blank white piece of paper falling.

But this wasn’t it. Sandi suggested we try one with the emphasis being on the smoothies, and with the font maybe written like a spilled smoothie. So I tried this. In here, we do have a ripped photo, as well as dog tags, as the hero had been in the military.

But this wasn’t it either. None of us really liked that couple from the back. So for take 3, we decided to try out a couple holding hands on a table, smoothies at their arm, the ripped photo visible.

But this still wasn’t the vibe they wanted. After taking some time to think and reconsider, Sandi let me know that she was trying to talk Amy into changing the title (as you can read about in the previous post), and that if we wanted a more serious image, the title needed to correspond. Part of the issue we were having with these versions was that it felt too light and fun for the story. I’m sure this is partially because of my font selection, which suited the title but apparently not the tone of the book itself.

Eventually, Sandi came back to me with a new idea, a new concept, and a new title. An Unexpected Legacy, she said. And let’s try an autumnal look, with a couple viewed through a window. She also wanted something with a hint of the mystery aspect, the idea that the heroine’s aunt is trying to keep them apart. I suggested a hand holding back a curtain. As long as it didn’t look too creepy, LOL, she said that was promising.

Starting from there, I found, first, a window.

And a couple to be outside it.

Putting those together and adjusting the coloring/lighting on the window to look right, I had this.

I did lengthen his pants–they were shorts in the original photo, but a bit of smudging got those longer. And we didn’t want her pointing, so I also lowered her arm.

Next came the curtain and hand. I found this photo on Shutterstock…

…and selected the hand and curtain, plopped them on top of the working image thus far, and adjusted the colors.

In this one, I also added a burst of light there where the sun was.

This, I thought, was a pretty good base. We have our main elements–couple, window, hand pulling back curtain–so now it was just a matter of getting the full look.

For starters, for the autumnal look, I wanted some deeper reds. So I added the Sutro filter.

I loved the depth and the tones that added, so then it was a simple matter of the finishing touches. At this point, I put the (new) title and author name on.

This was at about 90% in my opinion. But that last 10% is key. So to take it up another few degrees, I added two things. First, a fun little flourish behind the title, for a hint of the original whimsy.

And then light rays coming from that sun, because we all know how those gorgeous beams look, coming through a window in the fall. This is a very subtle change, but it adds something to the overall.

I still wasn’t quite satisfied though. That upper left corner felt too empty. So I decided to add some autumn leaves.

Much better! These are using the Color Burn blending mode, which gives it that particular shading. Happy enough to show Sandi and Amy, I sent this version to them. Sandi asked if there could be a single falling leaf somewhere, which I thought was perfect. So I added that.

And here it is! This ended up being the final front cover, but Amy did still want to see it with her original title, so I made one with the same fonts but the old words.

Seeing the two side by side helped her decide on the new title, I think. =) But I promised that we could incorporate the smoothies and dogtags on the back. Using this image of the smoothies…

…and these dog tags…

…with this bokeh to add the same light and coloring as the front…

…gave me this.

Toss the words on the back, and voila!

So here’s the full cover.

What do you think? Do you like the direction we ended up going in? The new title?

Interested in owning a paperback of this book? If so, you can enter the giveaway below!


Please enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway ends 2/27/18 11:59PST. US mailing addresses only. Void where prohibited.