Posted on Mar 10th, 2011
Guest Blogger: Monica Lee
In celebration of the release of Erin MacPherson’s The Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby, we’re doing something totally different! Monica Lee is the illustrator who created the images for the cover and the interior of the book, and I thought it would be fun to hear about the process. Here’s Monica…
As a professional illustrator, I’ve created images for about 11 book covers so far. Book covers are my favorite type of assignment and when I get that call from a publisher I do a happy dance! I enjoy the process of creating art for a book cover because…wait for it…I totally judge a book by its cover! I know, I know. What can I say? I’m a visual person and it’s my livelihood.
Once I finish my happy dance, the art director and I get down to business. For those of you who don’t know this, most authors don’t have much say in their covers. Don’t hate me—but it works best this way. The art directors are great to work with, understand an artist’s value and time constraints, and give very concise revisions. It’s good to let professionals do their jobs, right?
Occasionally I’ve read entire manuscripts before beginning, but generally I don’t have the opportunity—bummer. What I do get is a good synopsis and often an in-depth character description (for fiction).
I usually send over quite a few roughs. People like choices and the more good choices you give them, the easier the rest of the process will be. So the sketch phase takes me the longest. Another reason I send quite a few sketches over is because descriptive words like “hip” or “current” mean something different to people. I think I did six or seven sketches for The Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby
. I decided to give each girl her own name because it helped me communicate better with the publisher via email… i.e. “We like Vanessa and Sophie the best…” Much easier than just marking them 1, 2, 3!
If I am really sold on a “pose” or one cover look, I will repeat it in the selection process with a few variances to try to really sell that look to the client (secret Monica trick!) This entire process can take about two months more or less—hopefully not “less” because we don’t want to be rushed. We all want the book to be lovely and sell well!
This book cover, along with the 20 interior illustrations, was a nice fit for me. I have a house full of boys and am such a girly girl. The editors at Guideposts were a dream work with because they got so excited when they saw the sketches that I had drawn. Hey, I work in a bit of a vacuum over here and a bit of love now and then works wonders!
I currently license my art, designing art for fabrics, tabletop and giftware, but book cover work will always have a soft spot in my heart. Please visit my blog at http://monicaleestudios.com/blog/
Visit Erin MacPherson on the web at
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