Blog Tour: Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy by Paula Berinstein – Guest Post: Lights, Action, Book Cover!

December 7, 2015 Blog Tour, Mystery 21

Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy banner
I don’t participate in a lot of blog tours, but I just had to participate in this one. Whe I first heard about this book I knew I had to read it and having just finished the book last week I can tell you it’s awesome! I loved the book. Be sure to keep an eye out for my review next week. Today I have an awesome guest post written by the author to share with you, it’s about the cover designing process. I love the covers for this book series, so when I decided to join the tour I knew what topic I wanted the author to write about. It’s very interesting to hear about the cover designing process and how much work went into designing the covers and the characters. When you read the book you can really see it pays off and it’s eays to visualize what everything looks like.

This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 30 November till 13 December, you can view the complete tour schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.
So far this series contains 3 books: Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy (Amanda Lester, Detective #1), Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis (Amanda Lester, Detective #2) and Amanda Lester and the Purple Rainbow Puzzle (Amanda Lester, Detective #3).

The Guest Post

Lights, Action, Book Cover!

Guest post by Paula Berinstein

Creating a book cover is a lot like directing a movie. You pick the script, hire actors, come up with a look and feel, and design your sets, props, and costumes. Then you turn everything over to the experts who know how to transform your ideas into magic, and voila, you have your cover!

Here is the process in a nutshell.

Create a movie poster. Pick a dramatic moment from the story that involves your protagonist (the protag is critical for the front cover of a kids’ book but isn’t necessary for the back, although it’s okay for them to be there). Your picture should tell a story, or imply one. Be sure that your image is provocative enough to grab readers’ attention. For Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy I selected the moment when Amanda and Nick discovered the secret room underneath the school. Atmospheric and creepy!

Design your characters. This step is so much fun! What do your characters look like? Your artist will ask you about their faces (even if they’re animals or other non-humans), their body characteristics, hair, clothing, accessories, and personalities. That last might surprise you, but personality is critical to character design. Getting inside your characters’ personalities is what actors do when they ask, “What’s my motivation?” Your artist will want to capture that, and yes, that also comes through in what they wear, how they move, their hair, and all the rest. Find pictures to use as inspiration if possible. Your artist won’t copy what you give him or her, but they will use it as a jumping off point. For example, in the Amanda books, I told Anna (Mogileva, my wonderful artist) that I want Headmaster Thrillkill to look a bit like the actor Gregory Peck, but bald. She hasn’t designed him yet. I’m dying to see how he comes out!

Following are some early concept drawings for Amanda. Note how at first she barely resembles the final character. Anna kept showing me samples, and I’d say, “Well, this is okay but that doesn’t look right” until we settled on the final Amanda.

Early Amanda concept drawings

Early Amanda concept drawings

Final Amanda concept drawings

Final Amanda concept drawings

Amphora Kapoor concept drawings

Amphora Kapoor concept drawings. Anna nailed this one immediately.

Pick a style. If you look at a sampling of book covers on your shelf, you will probably see some realistic-looking covers (not photographs, but drawn), cartoons, and stylized characters of various kinds. Some figures are outlined, some are not. The varieties are endless. What do you like, and does it fit your story? For the Amanda books, I wanted realism a la the Hildebrandt brothers (http://brothershildebrandt.com/) who have worked with the stories of J.R.R. Tolkien. I didn’t feel that cartoons were appropriate, because although my books have humor in them they’re not comedies.

Select a color scheme. You will probably want to refer to other covers and artwork in general for inspiration. I knew from the start that I wanted saturated, game-like colors because they’re so emotional.

Figure out your lighting. The amount and type of light will depend somewhat on what’s in your text, but you can play with this. Your artist will want to know the season, time of day, and location of the scene. You may notice that the covers of my first two Amanda books, Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy and Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis, take place in the dark, with dramatic spotlighting, but the third, Amanda Lester and the Purple Rainbow Puzzle, is set outdoors. Note the difference in the lighting, which is due partly to the location, but also the season. The third book takes place during the summer, while the first one occurs in winter and the second in springtime.
Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar ConspiracyAmanda Lester and the Orange Crystal CrisisAmanda Lester and the Purple Rainbow Puzzle

Design your set and props. Much of your setting and accessories will come from your story, but there is room to experiment. You don’t have to be 100% faithful to the story. For example, Amanda does not actually have her video camera with her when she explores the secret room—she uses the one on her phone. But we thought the camera revealed something about her that potential readers would want to know, so Anna put it in.

In the case of the secret detective school in my books, I created the floorplans before Anna designed the school. Much of what we did was based on the text, which describes the school in some detail.

School design based on floorplans
School design based on floorplans

3D rendering of the school
3D rendering of the school

back cover first book
Final school scene for the back cover of the first book

Design your title and author’s name. Make sure the title and the author’s name are large and legible and placed in a way that doesn’t obscure the picture. Pick colors that make them stand out but go with the colors in the scene. Selecting a font can be tricky. We went with the ones my book designer, Jill Ronsley, used on the inside of the book. (And I made sure I purchased them rather than downloading them for free because they are definitely not in the public domain. Some deep research was involved there, as it wasn’t obvious who owned one of them.) We also added a logo, which we use on every book, including on the spine.

Design your back cover. The process for the back cover is very much the same as for the front, but you will have to make room for your blurb, the bar code, your Web address, and the publisher’s logo. Writing the blurbs for my books was painful. Anna kept telling me that they were too long and I kept having to shorten them, which as you know isn’t the easiest thing in the world. The fewer the words you have to play with, the harder it is to get the story across. Oh, and make sure your tag line really grabs people’s attention. Here are my three. Note that I like to use the elements of surprise and incongruity, as I did with the first two. The third is just a collection of evocative images.

A reluctant detective, a criminal mastermind, and . . . sugar?

If only Sherlock Holmes’s great-great-grandson weren’t such a dork . . .

Purple rainbows, a mysterious crypt, and pots of gold . . .

back cover Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracyback cover Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisisback cover Amanda Lester and the Purple Rainbow Puzzle

Design the spine. Betcha forgot about that. Yes, the spine actually has to be designed too. It should be legible and grabby so it can compete well with other books on a shelf. See what the best spines in your collection look like in terms of word placement, color, etc. If your book is part of a series, it’s helpful to show series information on the spine. Mine say “The Pink Book,” “The Orange Book,” etc. If your book is thin, you will have fewer options than if it’s thick. (Duh.) Here is the whole package for the first Amanda book. Note the spine.
front and back cover Amdanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy

Matte or glossy? I picked matte because I like the look, but you can use glossy if you prefer it. I don’t think my books are the glossy type. They’re atmospheric and a bit on the creepy side. Check your shelf (or the bookstore) for inspiration.

And that’s how Anna and I did it. There’s a lot of preparation and experimentation involved, but the result will be worth it, especially since most books are sold by their covers.

The Books

Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar ConspiracyAmanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy (Amanda Lester, Detective #1)
by Paula Berinstein
Genre: Mystery/ detective
Age category: Middle Grade
Release Date: May, 2015

Blurb:
A reluctant detective, a criminal mastermind, and . . . sugar?

Amanda Lester wouldn’t be caught dead going into the family business. Her ancestor, Sherlock Holmes’s colleague Inspector G. Lestrade, is a twit. Nevertheless her parents refuse to see his flaws, and she’s going to a secret English school for the descendants of famous detectives whether she likes it or not.

When Amanda arrives at the dreaded school, she considers running away—until she and her new friends discover blood and weird pink substances in odd places. At first they’re not sure whether these seeming clues mean anything, but when Amanda’s father disappears and the cook is found dead with her head in a bag of sugar, they’re certain that crimes are taking place.

Now Amanda must embrace her destiny and uncover the truth. The only snag is that arch-villain Blixus Moriarty, a descendant of Holmes’s nemesis Professor James Moriarty, might be involved, and he doesn’t like nosy little girls interfering in his business.

You can find Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy on Goodreads

You can buy Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy here:
Amazon
Amazon Paperback
Barnes & Noble

Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal CrisisAmanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis (Amanda Lester, Detective #2)
By Paula Berinstein
Genre: Mystery/ detective
Age category: Middle Grade
Release Date: September 15, 2015

Blurb:
If only Sherlock Holmes’s great-great-grandson weren’t such a dork . . .

There’s a new student at the Legatum Continuatum School for the Descendants of Famous Detectives and Amanda is supposed to work with him. Scapulus Holmes is a descendant of the great Sherlock and he’s crazy about her. Unfortunately she thinks he’s a dork and would rather die than have anything to do with him.

But when the kids discover a dead body encrusted with strange living crystals, Amanda realizes she needs Holmes’s help. If the crystals fall into the wrong hands they could be used for nefarious purposes, and only he knows how to protect them.

Can the detectives keep the bad guys from learning the crystals’ secrets? It would help if they could figure out who the dead body is too. Only if Amanda and Holmes can find a way to work together can they prevent a disaster, and it isn’t looking good

You can find Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis on Goodreads

You can buy Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis here:
Amazon
Amazon Paperback
Barnes & Noble

Amanda Lester and the Purple Rainbow PuzzleAmanda Lester and the Purple Rainbow Puzzle (Amanda Lester, Detective #3)
By Paula Berinstein
Genre: Mystery/detective
Age category: Middle Grade
Release Date: November 15, 2015

Blurb:
Purple rainbows, a mysterious crypt, and pots of gold . . .

Things are not going well for Amanda and the secret detective school. A priceless artifact has disappeared, a dangerous hacker is manipulating matter, and zombies are being seen all over the Lake District.

Then the real trouble starts. When her cousins go missing and her friend Clive is kidnapped, Amanda is forced to turn to someone she’d rather not deal with: her old boyfriend Scapulus Holmes. But then he vanishes too. Now’s she’s sure that arch-villain Blixus Moriarty is involved . . . or is he?

You can find Amanda Lester and the Purple Rainbow Puzzle on Goodreads

You can buy Amanda Lester and the Purple Rainbow Puzzle here:
Amazon
Amazon Paperback

The Author

Paula BerinsteinPaula Berinstein is nothing like Amanda. For one thing, she’s crazy about Sherlock Holmes. For another, she’s never wanted to be a filmmaker. In addition, compared to Amanda she’s a big chicken! And she wouldn’t mind going to a secret school at all. In fact, she’s hoping that some day she’ll get to build one.

You can find and contact Paula here:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Paula’s blog on Goodreads
The Writing Show podcasts

The Giveaway

There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy. These are the prizes you can win:
– paperback copies of Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy (Amanda Lester, Detective #1), Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis (Amanda Lester, Detective #2) and Amanda Lester and the Purple Rainbow Puzzle (Amanda Lester, Detective #3) by Paula Berinstein (INT)
– 2 winners will each win a paperback copy of Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy (Amanda Lester, Detective #1) Paula Berinstein (INT)

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


banner Lola's Blog Tours

21 Responses to “Blog Tour: Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy by Paula Berinstein – Guest Post: Lights, Action, Book Cover!”

  1. Braine

    I always took for granted the process behind cover arts mostly because I see a lot of stock photos bein used. This is such a cool and informative post! Another way to tell the story

    • Paula B.

      I see that too, Braine. I know people are doing that for budgetary reasons, but my philosophy is that a book should be an investment and you should give it your all. If it takes money to do that, then it does, but the results will be worth it.

    • Lola

      I guess that with stock photos the process is different, but it also matters how much they do with the stock pictures. Some covers can take stock pictures and mix multiple elements together and it stills look very different from other covers, while some stock photo covers all look the same, which is a shame. I gues searching for stock pictures has it’s own challenges as you need to find models who fit your description for the characters.
      I do think seeing how a cover let’s designing from scratch is very wonderfull and at least the author knows no cover out there looks even remotely similiar.
      Lola recently posted…Blog Tour: Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy by Paula Berinstein – Guest Post: Lights, Action, Book Cover!My Profile

  2. Keionda @Keionda Hearts Books

    This is the coolest thing ever! I loved seeing how the process goes for writing a book! <3 I'm still in the editing stages of my novels but I'm still going to have to come to this step one day! Thanks for sharing this L! I'm going to save it and then come back to it later. xoxo

  3. Maureen Hinten

    Wow!! What a fun post Lola. Love it!! These books look amazing and how interesting to read about the whole process of making these covers.
    I haven’t heard or read about these books before but I do love mystery and detective novels. I definitely need to check these books out!! 😉
    Maureen Hinten recently posted…Review ‘Cinder’ by Marissa MeyerMy Profile

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge