Book Cover Shoot – an author report

Our journalist, Pip Ballantine takes over the blog today, to share the experience of a book cover photoshoot made possible by our readers and listeners. 

So after our hugely successful Kickstarter campaign to fund The Ghost Rebellion, we were excited to be ordering up our first book cover shoot in January.

Working with New York has a lot of pluses, but on the whole, book cover design is arranged and organized by the publisher. If an author is lucky, the publisher will ask them for ideas, some color palettes, that sort of thing, but you don’t get the control you get when you do it yourself. And being on set for the photoshoot itself is rare.

Tee and I hired Michael Ward of Go ForWard photography to take the shots which would be used for the covers. We’ve known Michael for a long time, and in fact he designed my engagement ring. Having such talented friends makes it easy to get things done.

However we picked Michael not just because of that (because we know a lot of other talented photographers too) but because he has impressed us with his fashion photography. He knows how to make the most of beauty. Seriously, check out his Facebook page.

We also flew in our cover model, Verena Vorsatz from Germany. Verena has been a cosplayer for over fifteen years, and when she cosplayed Eliza D Braun, we were suitably impressed. Verena has also done some modeling, and it is apparent in how she knows how to give a variety of poses and expressions.

Lauren ‘Scribe’ Harris, our friend and frequent collaborator, was insistent on being on the cover for Countless Hues of Crimson and we were very happy to include her. Since we had hit that goal, the novella is a thing that is happening, so Lauren travelled up from North Carolina.

Also in the crew for the shoot was Matt J Drake and Christina Payton, who acted as behind the scenes photographers, stylists and general helpers. They both made everything run smoother and were an integral part of the shoot.

So on a slightly snowy morning, we packed up our costumes (some our own, some borrowed from friends) and headed to Go ForWard.

We arrived bright and early at 10am, with snacks and bottled water, and found Michael Ward, Wendy Ward, and Tamara Barnett of Tennille Makeup and Artistry ready to go.

Now cover shoots take longer than you think. We had to get the models all made-up, and into their outfits. There was also a lot of laughter and giggling on the shoot—which given the nature of the first cover helped us through.

Watching Michael working his craft was fascinating. First of all he had the most amazing set up of gadgets, lights and computer display. The sprawl of the green screen was impressively large, and it would be where the digital magic would eventually happen. However, shooting the models, and making them look the best they could was Michael’s goal. He would start at the point we said we’d imagined the cover to look like, and then as we all loosened up, we would go into different directions. Some of those directions we hadn’t imagined ended up on covers.

The shoot first up was Countless Hues of Crimson, and it was a lot of fun. Verena and Lauren got corseted up and put on lace masks. There was also a pineapple, and honestly that fruit had a fantastic day; groomed, photographed with lovely ladies, and then chopped up and eaten…Alright the ending might not have been that good. Still he lived large.

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Then we had a break. Even though we were all having a blast, it is actually tiring. Make-up was touched up, and costumes changed. The pineapple was put away.

The afternoon was dedicated to shooting two novel covers, and a couple of slightly goofier shots that just were fun. I’m not going to spoil the surprise on any of those, but they were a nice way to finish the shoot.

At the end of the day we were all a bit slap-happy and exhausted. However, we packed up, handed the pineapple to Michael for execution, and trundled on our way.

All the time the shoot was happening, I was thinking how incredible the day was, and how you, dear readers and listeners, made it happen.

On the 26th of February we will be hosting an online official cover reveal, and those of you not backers or Dispatch subscribers will get to see the first of the book covers; The Ghost Rebellion.


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