A Reader’s Review Blog have had a great opportunity to hear from a cover artist and author, Dawné Dominique. Dawné has kindly written a blog post for us, providing an insight to both worlds and their challenges and differences. Throughout the article we also feature some examples of her beautiful cover designs. – Caroline & Tina
Cover Artist vs. Published Author
A lot of people may be familiar with my name as a cover artist, but I’m also a published author. Unfortunately, both are not synonymous in the aspects of the publishing world. In other words, I’m known more for my cover art than my books.
I restarted my writing career in early 2000 as a fantasy writer, wherein world building and character development are tantamount in creating believability in fantasy fiction. People who have read my books, whether fantasy, paranormal, or erotic romance, told me that they read like movies; that they feel my characters; they walk in the worlds I’ve created; but more importantly, they actually care about what happens in the story. Then why am I not a NY best selling author? Firstly, I’m published with a smaller publishing house. Secondly, do I want to become famous? Well, of course. Who doesn’t? But I didn’t get into this business to get rich or famous. I write because I love to tell stories. And I create cover art because the artistic gene in me needs to flourish. Being my own cover artist? Uggg! I’m my own worst client. I’m never satisfied. Even after a book of mine is published, I’ll discover something on the cover that I want to refine and/or revise.
Someone once asked me how many covers I had created during my career. I’d never given it much thought, so I began calculating and came up with a number that astounded me. The total was well over 1K. Since I branched out on my own with DusktilDawn Designs, in any given year, I’ll create approximately 500 covers, so that initial number is far higher. Believe me, no one is more surprised than I am because to me, it’s not work. It’s an absolute pleasure—and more so when I read an author’s reaction to my design.
Writing books, however, takes me far longer. I can’t seem to write novellas, although my first published piece of work was that size for a book anthology titled Ridley’s Rival, which had been nominated for a CAPA. For my very first submission, I was rather pleased with that recognition. But the cover? *shivers* (And not in a good way).
When I get a cover art request from one of the publishers I work with, or the many Indie authors I represent, all I have to work from is a paragraph sized description and/or a brief synopsis. Ninety-nine percent of the time that’s enough for me. I, unfortunately, have no time to read the books. If I did, I’d be setting up bathroom appointments, not to mention eating and sleeping at my desk. Because I’m an author too, I believe it gives me an extra edge in their creative designs. For the record, no draft cover is sent to an author unless, and until, I would be proud to have it as my own. There are some past covers I’ve done that I cringe at when I see them. In my earlier days, I would bow to an author’s wishes. What they wanted, I gave. I’m more stringent now. If it’s not going to look natural, I won’t do it. Changing “hair” is the most contentious idiosyncrasy of mine. If a male character’s hair is described as long, and I can’t find a picture with appropriate hair, I’ll somehow ensure that their hair isn’t showing or that the change can be completed and look real. I’ve seen so many covers out there with badly photo-shopped hair that it makes me cringe.
No matter what the genre, after reading that paragraph, more times than not, a design will pop into my head. I think like an author, and a managing editor (another hat I wore for several years) so I have a clear concept of what sells and what doesn’t. Simplistic, streamlined, and artistically crafted covers work best in catching the eye of readers and holding their interest. A word of caution, however. What I put on the front MUST reflect what’s inside those pages (i.e. character descriptions, location, items of importance, etc.). There are some readers who will never read another author’s book if the cover doesn’t accurately reflect what’s inside those pages.
It’s those authors who hire me and tell me to “run with it” is when I have the most fun. Especially with horror cover art. I can’t watch the movies, but doing fiendish book covers is a passion of mine. Go figure. : )
Now if only I could sell as many books as the covers I create.
To see some of my designs, please visit me at: