My fine artist, Mary K. Dolan, refused to read my book. She just wanted me to describe a scene to paint, and give her enough background info so that she could paint accurately. You might say that I should have taken that as a warning flag, and walked away. An artist who wouldn’t read my book!
In fact, I doubt I will ever allow that again. But I decided to do it her way, and the results were unexpectedly good. I had to explain the scene, and my main characters, in depth, in ways I had never thought of. I had to answer artist’s questions about how my people and things looked, and these were questions whose visual impact was far deeper than anything in my imagination. I learned something about how twelve-year-old girls look different from adults, something that fired my imagination. So it all worked out.
For my second novel, I am going to make my artist (whoever it is) read the book. And for a different reason. Once again, I wrote the book without thinking up a scene that belongs on the front cover. But I did go through the book, looking for a scene that would be good. And here’s what I said to myself, about eight times altogether: Wow, that would make a great scene, but I don’t think it can be painted....Wow, (etc.)
The bottom line is very simple. A good artist will know how to draw at least one of these fine scenes. The artist has to read my book and chose. That’s all there is to it.
If Mary Dolan paints my second front cover, that’s all I’ll ask of her. I plan to do a simpler spline, and I now know how to do the back cover, and how to fit the full cover together. My first book needed a map, but I plan to do the second book without a map. That way, I’ll ask less of my artist, and – I hope – I’ll pay less for the art.
My third novel already has a scene that is paintable, and I know it will make a good front cover. Whew!