Today I have the pleasure of teaming up with Kristopher Orr of WaterBrook Multnomah and we’re bringing you the design process for the third book in the Cadence of Grace series! I was amazed by all that’s involved in putting together a book cover and in addition, the added technicalities with bringing a series home with the final art design.

We begin with a few stills from the photo shoot. Courtesy of a studio in Colorado Springs (and our fantastic model and photographer!), our heroine, Lonnie Sawyer, comes to life!

Kristopher: Which shot completes the series and also hints at her inner struggle??

Joanne: Can I just say how fun it is to see these outtakes? Bravo to the model, Rose, for all her hard work! P.S. I love the 6th shot. Can we have a fourth book just to use it?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Onto Gideon… One thing I asked my publisher early on was if we could please (PLEASE!) get Gideon on the cover. If you’ve read the story, you totally get this. So onto the hunt for a man who has reddish-brown hair, is rather tall, pretty much swings an ax for a living and could be believable as the most handsome man in Rocky Knob.

Er… no pressure.

A few early samples my publisher looked at:

Choices… choices…but the hunt was still on.

In the meantime, there’s also the background and the sky to figure out. So far in each book, the skies have been very vivid and strong with a mountain landscape beneath, so Kristopher would have been looking for something to match that.

As part of all this, he emailed me for a description of what the Bennett’s home and farm was like. I sent him the details and layout and here are a few of the ideas he pulled together:

Kristopher: What location? How will it composite into a different background? Is the lighting right? Should it be at sunset or sunrise to compliment book 2? Does the color palette complete the color curve of the series?

Joanne: Here are some early drafts of the cover (including a different title!)

Kristopher shares that these cover comps didn’t make the cut because the man was wrong and also it was too hard to see the title.

Joanne:ย I especially like Lonnie in the second shot. The sky is beautiful, but it’s not quite as bold as with Be Still My Soul and Though My Heart is Torn. I can see now why it was revised down the line. Also, Gideon is *almost* there! This guy’s not bad, thought his hair is a bit dark…Either way, my publisher was looking for something a bit different…

And what about that title? Yes! That was the working title for the story and while I was fond of it, I ended up suggestingย My Hope is Foundย to my editor later on in the publishing process and she and her team agreed that it was the one.ย 

More changes in the works:

Kristopher:ย Distillation into comps. Title Changing to My Hope is Found. Typography needs to fit with the series. Where does the script face come in? Where does the flourish float?Where does the all cap Serlio go? Is it family with the series?

Joanne: At this point, I’m yet to see the final cover. Of the two designs here, the one below is the one I’ll first see. I loved a lot about it-the vivid sky, the landscape and background and Lonnie’s beautiful expression, but there were a few tweaks I was able to suggest…

Kristopher:ย Comp 3 is chosen and finessed. Problems: Light on character’s face is opposite of where the sun is setting. (oops!) Problems with the historicity of the dress (circa 1970’s, not early 1900’s) Background character on the horse is wrong.

Joanne: At this stage, I wasn’t keen on the dress, for the reason Kristopher mentioned above. But the biggest part that I was hoping we could work on was Gideon. I wasn’t a fan of the small figure leaning against the house. It just felt like the wrong visual for Gideon and his character by the time we reach this third book. I talked to my publisher about capturing that feeling of his heart change over the course of the series and finally coming home to Lonnie… so, the hunt for the perfect Gideon continued!ย 

At this point, I also asked about the “F” in “Found” and if maybe he had another font on hand that could go there as me and that backwards “F” weren’t entirely seeing eye to eye.ย 

This is where a girl is so thankful she has such an amazing designer! Because he happily took those ideas and went back to the drawing board.ย 

At this time, he sent me 4 new dress options and this is the one we both thought Lonnie would have worn:

The dress was quickly rented from the costume place, re-shot and with a bit of design magic, Lonnie got a brand new look.

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But still, no Gideon.ย As I waited for Kirstopher to send me the final cover, one of the things that kept circling my mind is how the hero of this story would end up being portrayed. He’s so integral to the plot and so much of the story centers around his own spiritual and emotional journey, that my hopes to get him just right were still alive and well… though I was a bit nervous as we were running out of time and I still had only seen the one cover comp at this point. Early on in the revision process, I asked Kristopher this:ย 

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Readers have been so eager for Gideon to come homeโ€ฆcan we engage him in a way that shows he cares? His heroic qualities? Heโ€™s fought so hard to get back to Lonnie, can we capture that?

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And this was the result:


Kristopher: Gideon found!

Joanne: (She can’t speak because she just fell out of her chair.)

The skies parted and there may have been angels singing.

The search was officially over and everything put together on Kristopher’s end as he finessed the final design.ย The cover was complete and sent to the author (me!) to go gaga over.ย 

Kristopher: Final composite with correct Gideon, correct lighting, and beautiful but sad expression of Lonnie with slightly falling hair catching some hints of daylight and wind all sending signals of romance and drama.That’s all complimented by the warm color palette.ย 

Joanne:ย Wow. What he said!

From Lonnie’s expression to the connection between her and Gideon who’s now walking toward her, it’s all perfect. It all just fell into place, with a lot of hard work from the designer and his artistic magic. My hats off to Kristopher at WaterBrook Multnomah and his fantastic job on not only the cover for My Hope is Found, but for the entire Cadence of Grace series.

So let’s chat: Are you surprised by how much work goes into the making of a cover?

What do you think about the differences in versions and looks?