For The King: the cover

The last version of For The King was indeed the final one. We are down to the copy edits of the manuscript. All on track for the summer of of 2010.

Now, on to the cover! We looked at many paintings from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but nothing seemed to work. Most gowns were either white, and looked bland on a cover, or too ornate and static to fit the characters of novel.

I like the white script of the title. The prior version had other motifs around the middle of the title, and I found those reminiscent of catfish whiskers. The designer kindly went back to the drawing board.

Let me quote Erika Imranyi, my editor at Dutton: “We looked at it without the ornament, and felt the jacket really needed it to anchor the title. And then we tried some swirls that weren’t attached to the word, but they looked funny – like they were floating. The ornament in this version doesn’t look like cat whiskers like the last version does.”

What do you think?

For the King Catherine Delors

For the King Catherine Delors

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32 Comments to “For The King: the cover”

  1. Sandra Haltom says:

    Love your blog. Very interesting. Keeping it bookmarked and will keep checking back regularly. Best wishes.

  2. Penny says:

    I just remembered that your first book had a color picture of you but you are in black and white! LOL. any chance this cover will have you wearing your favorite color for a color picture?

  3. Catherine Delors says:

    Thanks, everyone, for your good wishes! Yes, the cover is eye-catching. No, it is not historically accurate. You are right, Katy, there is too much fabric at the bottom of the gown to fit the 1800s. The sleeves are wrong too. As for the lady’s hairdo, if we start altering that as well…

    And thank you, Sheramy, for raising the crucial point of legal rights. It turns out that Dutton has indeed secured permission to alter the painting.

  4. Cinderella says:

    Lovely! I like it a lot. The color of the dress really jumps out.

  5. Joyce Moore says:

    Oh m’gosh, Catherine. I love, LOVE the awesome cover. In a bookstore, I’d snatch it up in a minute. I can’t wait ’til it comes out, and I know I’ll hate to see it end, like I did with Mistress of the Revolution.

  6. Katy says:

    I like the cover image as a painting in itself, do you know what the original is called?

    But the altered cut of the gown really threw me off because the hair is very much in the style of the late 19th century, and there’s way too much fabric in the bottom of the dress to be consistent with early 19th century styles. Which wouldn’t bother anyone who isn’t well versed in historic fashion, but it definitely threw me off for a second. Since your designer already altered the dress, could he/she not alter the hair a little? Just to make the transformation a bit more convincing.

  7. Hi Catherine
    Your cover is beautiful. VERY beautiful. And, surely, a source of great pride. Congratulations.
    I may have missed the point here but — I’ll buy For the King because I loved Mistress of the Revolution. It will have little to do with the cover and/or the relevance of the costume/font/colour/twiddles. Books are stories not pictures and I, for one, will not be moved by ‘fancy dress and faceless women.’
    Your writing speaks for itself!

  8. Felio Vasa says:

    Congratulations Catherine! Gorgeous cover!

  9. Penny says:

    I looked at the cover again, and I have to add that I too would love that dress and in that color but as they say in French I don’t have je ne sais quoi to carry it off. My friend Nancy does as do you. wish i could give it to her for her upcoming birthday. too late for your birthday. sorry. maybe next year. LOL.

  10. Sheramy says:

    Hi Catherine,
    Now that I can see the comment page (ignore my email) and the Big Picture has loaded, I can tell that’s not an Ingres (which at first was my thought) and is indeed from later period. But is your publisher’s art dept certain it is ok to alter the image to change the cut of the gown? Am I understanding that that’s what they did? If they got the image from Art Resource (or are planning to), AR forbids such things as being unethical to the artwork (and rightly so, truthfully). I would assume Bridgeman Art Library (the other big one) does too. Maybe that can be an argument to get another image you like better on the cover. Because I do agree it doesn’t have much to do with the story. Pretty as it is.

    The ornament does anchor things. I agree with them on that one.

  11. Beautiful cover, although yes, I too noticed that the gown is from the 1870’s, but it still works, and the colors are resplendent.

  12. Catherine Delors says:

    True, Suzanne, publishers (mine and all others) follow the implicit rule that readers expect a certain type of cover, regardless of the contents of the book. And that in turn comforts the readers’ expectations with regard to covers. Does this contribute to a ghettoization (is this a word?) and marginalization of HF: a genre with fancy dresses and faceless women? I hope not…

  13. Suzanne says:

    (I meant, of course, the cover, not the title, although I suppose that doesn’t give one a clear idea of the period either–not that titles are necessarily supposed to do that.)

    It’s a shame publishers think they have to make every book conform to a single model, as if all readers of historical fiction were alike. I know plenty of people who would be interested in reading a book like For the King but would never pick it up with a cover like that, as lovely as it is. In this case I’m in a position to point it out to them, but think how many readers you or any other HF author is potentially losing by this – to me – inexplicable choice on the part of the publishing companies.

    Yes, I know they tell us not to judge a book by its cover, but so many people do. It’s close to inevitable with all the books in even a small fiction section. Who has time to read all the descriptions?

    On a cheerier, note, I can’t wait to read this one! Summer 2010 seems so far away…

  14. Catherine Delors says:

    Ana – Dispensing with the ornament was my first impulse. But I was told
    it was indispensible to “anchor” the title. At least this one is not obstrusive as the big catfish whiskers were…

    Julianne – Indeed the cover is only there to signal “HF” loud and clear, not to give any inkling of the story behind. This goes back to those discussions of headless women in fancy dresses we had a while back. This has apparently become obligatory now, for marketing reasons. Remember also the discussion with CW Gortner at the HNS Conference? Everyone is on the same page now, it seems…

    Yes, the copy editing is a huge milestone. I will be waiting anxiously for your verdict as soon as we reach the galley stage.

  15. Congratulations on reaching the copy edit stage, Catherine! The cover is very beautiful, although I’m amazed they would choose a cover that has so little to do with your story. I remember the stagecoach picture from way back — that was the one I liked best. I can’t help thinking that the juxtaposition of the woman with “For the King” means that she is what he gets…. Anyway, I think the curlicues look fine. I really like the lettering.

    I’m so happy for you that everything is on track. I’m very much looking forward to reading this book!

  16. Ana T says:

    I do like the cover and it immediately made me think of HF, it’s very eye-catching. I think I would dispense the ornament though…

  17. Catherine Delors says:

    Thanks, Michelle!

    Now, Suzanne, you are indeed right. This is a picture from the 1870s, and I of course objected to the cut of the gown, which was wrong for 1800. So after all possible images (all right, I am exaggerating) from the early 1800s were ruled out, the designer went back to this and altered it to fit the high-waisted fashions of the late revolutionary/napoleonic area.

    We are going back to discussions we had on this blog: the obligatory historical fiction cover has become a headless woman in a fancy gown, regardless of the story/period/characters. From looking at this cover you wouldn’t guess the novel is about a royalist plot to assassinate Bonaparte and the ensuing investigation and political fallout (plenty of Jacobins in this story…) But you would know it is HF.

  18. Suzanne says:

    I like it, though it wouldn’t have been my first choice. It seems to me that the image is from a later painting, though. Am I right? I, for one, would never have guessed the era the story is set in just from looking at the title.

  19. The cover is stunning! You picked a winner :]

  20. Catherine Delors says:

    Indeed, Sarah, the font for my name is the same as for Mistress. I like it a lot because it is easy to read and unfussy.

    Everyone – I am working on the browser issue, so bear with me. The problem seems to be the size of the JPEG file. I am trying to resize it without losing quality. Easier said than done on Mac.

    Thanks, Amanda, I am anxious too…

    Elisa, you are right! I have been remiss there.

  21. Elisa says:

    Could you post this on the Historical Fiction Online forum? It’s been awhile since we’ve seen you there! :)

  22. Daphne says:

    Catherine,
    That must have been what it was – I tried on our home computer (rather than my laptop) which has Safari and it worked fine. I think it’s gorgeous!(and will post about it as well)

  23. Amanda says:

    Oh I love it! I can’t wait for this to be released!

  24. Hi Catherine, it is definitely an eye-catching cover! It’s colorful and attractive. If I’m not mistaken, the font for your name is the same as the one for Mistress, so there’s some consistency there. It’s been fun to see the changes in potential cover designs on your blog. (FWIW, I can see the image in Firefox but not in IE.)

  25. Catherine Delors says:

    Thanks to all for your comments and congratulations!

    Amy – I will be delighted if you post about this. I wouldn’t mind having the dress either…

    Samantha – I guess the side ornament is there to balance the female figure to the other side.

    Daphne – It might be a browser issue. I will email you the image.

    Tristan – Exactly! Intriguing is the desired effect. This is why we ruled out many beautiful portraits, which did not seem dynamic enough on a cover.

    Penny – It wasn’t my first choice either (I liked the dark, handsome man best…)  but I am very happy with it. As for signing your copy, when there’s a will, there’s a way!

  26. Penny says:

    I like it. Not my first choice but i can live with it. so summer 2010. Guess who will be in Europe summer 2010? if you do book signings i can get my travel agent to book me into a hotel in Paris. unless you can sign in London? I can go up there by train i think from Devon. this is exciting. you know the best things in life are worth waiting for. and sometimes working for.
    i really am excited. and my male friend will be interested in reading it as well. i always liked years ending in even numbers. Mazel Tov & Felicitations!

  27. I think it’s lovely … and the perfect scale for the font point.

    The whole cover is very intriguing!

  28. Daphne says:

    For some reason the picture is not showing up for me (I can see all of the other pictures on your website though…strange.) I’d really like to see what it looks like :(

  29. Samantha says:

    I love the image and text but not the ornament along the side – seems unnecessary and takes away from both image and title.

  30. Amy says:

    WOW! It’s fabulous Catherine….I really love it and want that dress!!

    Do you mind if I post about this on Passages to the Past?

    Congratulations!

  31. Catherine Delors says:

    Thank you, Cristen! I am delighted to have the endorsement of a pro.

  32. Cristen says:

    I think it is truly grand!!

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