I was curious about how she became a cover artist and how she finds ideas for book covers, so I thought I'd ask and share her answers with you.
Dawné, tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, everyone. Thank you, Annie, for having me here today. Who am I? Well, I'm a multi-published, best-selling author of adult paranormal romance, and fantasy, as well as a professional book cover artist. I write adult novels under the pen name Dawné Dominique, and my fantasy novels under D. Thomas Jerlo. I've been told that my novels hook unsuspecting readers into diverse worlds of magic and paranormal, and I refuse to let them go until that last page is read.
Although I'm published in the United States, I'm a Canadian author through and through.
How did you decide to be a cover artist?
One of my first publishers had created the cover for book one for my vampire series called Dark Diary, I: The First. When I saw it, I cried. It took the artist about three minutes to create, and my name was misspelled. When I asked for it to be corrected, they told me it was close enough. Being newly published, an author's name is important. It took over three months of me refusing to back down and a lot of whining before they changed it, but everything on the inside stayed the same. The publisher was HORRID! You have to understand that I had submitted two novels to two different publishers. Both were immediately accepted; both were my first submissions. I soon learned that not all publishers are the same.
Because of how I suffered, I vowed that it wouldn't happen to someone else. So I honed my Photoshop skills (self-taught) and began creating sigs in my writing forum (Writing.com). A publisher saw some of my work and asked me to do some book cover art for her. The rest is history.
What is your favorite cover that you designed so far?
I will confess that I absolutely love creating horror book covers. I can't watch the movies at all because I end up feeling sick, but the genre allows me more creative expression in photoshop. Horror! Who knew I was that sinister inside? (Please don't ask my husband or sister.)
I just did a YA book cover called Regret (The Guardians), by Danielle Doolittle, that turned out better than I had anticipated.
You can view these covers on my website under the Horror and Mainstream/YA links.
How do you get your ideas for cover designs? (Do you have to read the book or just the back cover? Or do authors tell you what they want?)
When I worked for loveyoudivine (yes, all lowercase), I was a managing editor and one of their cover artists, so I had the opportunity to read the books first. Not now. In a month, I usually create about forty covers (minimum). Sometimes more. I get a brief synopsis and a couple lines of what the author is looking for in terms of artwork, and away I go.
A cover is finalized in three drafts. That's my staunch rule. If we can't do it in three attempts, then something's wrong. I did thirteen drafts for an author once. After that experience, I had to put a ceiling on revisions. The authors I love the best are the ones that tell me to "run with it."
What makes your artwork different from others in your industry?
My artwork is darker and a little more unique than the mainstream. Because I'm an author, I create covers thinking like an author. I believe that's what gives me a distinctive edge in the business. And because of my experience as a managing editor, I always keep in mind a book's sellability—will the cover intrigue and entice? Will the artwork catch the eye of readers and invoke curiosity for them to look closer? Every cover I do, I do for myself first. The last thing I ask myself before sending off a draft to an author is: "Would I be proud to have this cover as my own?"
What is your biggest challenge as a cover designer?
Finding the right picture(s). I can search for days through the many various photo sites until one screams at me. It's very time consuming, but also rewarding. It's like winning a lottery when I find that perfect photograph. Would you believe that I have over a thousand photographs that I have downloaded onto a 2TB external hard drive? Yeppers. But I keep searching. There's always so much more out there. I think I may have a problem. *giggles*
What is your favorite part about being a cover designer?
When I can feel the joy and excitement in an author's email when they respond to one of my draft covers. It's the most rewarding part of what I do.
What other hobbies or occupations do you have besides cover designs?
I moonlight as a contracted paralegal from Tuesdays to Thursdays. At night, I'm a wereauthor and cover artist. In between, I'm a wife, mother, daughter, twin sister, friend, auntie, and Nanny. I make appointments to go to the bathroom.
Quick Random Questions
Favorite book: Lord of the Rings (all of them)
Favorite quote or expression: Holy Hanna! (favorite expression)
“Everything in life happens for a reason, be it good or bad, and it’s because of this we learn to never take anything for granted.” (favorite quote)
Listener or talker? Both, although once I get talking, it's difficult to shut me up.
One thing you couldn't live without: My computers.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: Gummy Bears—I kid you not. It was like eating a blood clot. (sorry)
If you were an animal, what would it be? A pampered house cat. Now that's the life.
What three adjectives best describe you? Only three? Faithful, shy, and quirky.
adult author website
fantasy author website
professional cover artist website
Thank you, Dawné, for taking the time to answer all my questions! And thank you again for the beautiful book cover you made for me!
And the winner of my e-book from last post is ... *drum roll* Kurt Chambers! Congratulations, Kurt! A copy of Adventure on Nemesis Mountain is on its way!