Where’d you get that great book cover?

I’m in love with the cover of The All-Star Antes Up, Book 2 in my Wager of Hearts series. Why? Because it conveys the feel of the story and the series so perfectly, and it’s both attractive and eye-catching.All-Star Antes Up cover-final

However, creating a successful cover is not easy. Here’s a glimpse of how book covers get designed.

This book is published by Montlake Romance, so they are the folks who hire the cover designer. My editor and I work with her (in this case), going back and forth with concepts, models, backgrounds, layout, fonts, etc. until we all think it works.

My publisher allows me an unusual amount of involvement as the author. Other publishers often ask their authors to fill out the cover questionnaire and go on to design the cover without further input from the writer. Many authors–even bestselling ones!—have a horror story or two to tell about book covers that either misrepresented the story in an important way or were just plain ugly. Christina Dodd famously had a cover for a historical romance on which the heroine had three arms. (Of course, if you self-publish your books, you have total control over the cover, which can be both terrifying and great fun.)

Step 1: As the author, I fill out a questionnaire, answering questions about the hero and heroine’s looks, a pivotal scene, adjectives to describe the tone of the story, as well as any ideas I have about the cover design. I can attach images of other book covers that I think are effective for my subgenre. In addition, The All-Star Antes Up is the second book in a series so it has to match the branding of the series opener, The CEO Buys In.Herkness-TheCEOBuysIn-Final

Step 2: The cover designer comes up with several concepts and sends them to my editor and me. Here’s where you start breaking it down into components:

  1. The cover model(s);
  2. The background;
  3. The title text and font;
  4. The author name text and font;
  5. The series logo;
  6. Colors.

Step 3: My editor and I review the whole effect, as well as the separate elements. In the case of The All-Star Antes Up, the fonts of all the text had to match The CEO Buys In, so that choice was very straightforward. Notice that the color of the series logo was changed on this book, a nice touch. It differentiates this cover from the first book’s just enough to cue the reader that this is a new and distinct story.

In this case, the cover model is very important. He needed to: 1) be blond, 2) exude physical power and confidence, 3) be wearing a suit, and 4) have something that indicated he was a football player. We ended up using one model’s head and a different model’s body to get the right combination of 1-3. As for the sports attribute, the cover designer found such a great football stadium background that we didn’t need to add a football element to the model himself.

Note: I’ve been asked why the model’s full face is not visible. Interestingly, most readers report that they prefer not to be given a visual of the hero/heroine. They prefer to create that image in their own minds. Hence, the faceless covers.

Step 4: My editor and I choose the concept we like the best, but request changes. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 (several times) until we have a front cover we’re happy with. The change requests begin with big things, such as changing the cover model, and end up with tiny tweaks, such as condensing the font spacing slightly to better match The CEO Buys In’s text.

Step 5: The cover designer uses elements from the front cover to design the spine and back cover for the print version of the book. The author is not involved in this part of the design, so it’s an enjoyable surprise when I receive the full cover image.

Step 6: The cover goes to the marketing department for review. They tweaked a font on one of my other books, but that’s the only change I’ve ever received on a cover design from marketing.

Step 7: The cover reveal for The All-Star Antes Up. Woohoo!!!

All-Star Antes Up cover-final




Win a Kindle Fire and 35+ e-books!

It’s a Valentine’s Day contest, so it ends on February 15th. Enter now for the chance to win this fabulous prize: bit.ly/ValentinesRomance.

All those great books and a Kindle Fire to read them on!

My book THE CEO BUYS IN is included in the prize!

Vday ad


Hot billionaire on sale!

THE CEO BUYS IN is on sale for $2.00 through February 29th. Gotta love leap year!

Click here to buy it!

Self-made billionaire Nathan Trainor feels restless and disillusioned. His company may be thriving, but Herkness-TheCEOBuysIn-Finalhe can’t find a woman who sees him for more than his wealth. With his love life in the red, he meets two other billionaire bachelors at the ultra-exclusive Bellwether Club. The three of them make a wager of the heart: they must find women who love them for who they are, not their money. 

Savvy office temp Chloe Russell is trying to scrape together the money she needs to support her grandmother. So when a flu epidemic strikes Trainor Electronics and she’s promoted to Nathan Trainor’s assistant, she jumps at the lucrative opportunity. But then Nathan himself falls ill, and he and Chloe must work from his penthouse while he recuperates. Before long, it’s clear there’s genuine heat between them, and it’s more than just a fever spike. Will Nathan win Chloe’s heart—and the bet? Or will their differences destroy any chance for love?

Last two days to get THE CEO BUYS IN for $1.99!

Herkness-TheCEOBuysIn-FinalTHE CEO BUYS IN is on sale for Kindle for a mere $1.99 until midnight on October 31st. It’s spooky how fast it will go up to full price after that. LOL!

Click here to download it!

You could give it as a Halloween gift…to yourself! Read it while you’re waiting for those cute little trick-or-treaters.

A BRIDGE TO LOVE on sale Down Under!

For all my Australian friends, I wanted to let you know that A BRIDGE TO LOVE is on sale for 99 cents on Kindle until the end of October. Click here to buy it!

Here’s what A BRIDGE TO LOVE is about:

abtl.rebrand.frontWidowed a year ago, Kate Chilton struggles to raise two young sons alone, drawing on memories of her happy marriage to help her through the tough times.  When she discovers that her marriage was not what it seemed, the foundation of her world is shattered.  Wounded and angry, Kate decides to spend one night with a man and then forget him.  She finds the perfect candidate in notorious womanizer Randall Johnson.  Magnetically attractive, he has a reputation for loving and leaving.  But Randall’s reputation is about to change….

Driven to escape from his dirt-poor childhood in rural Texas, Randall claws his way up the ladder of success on guts and ambition.  He has no time for love and chooses only women who understand his rules.  Kate Chilton is definitely not his type, no matter how the electricity crackles between them.  When she invites herself to dinner, his curiosity is piqued.  When she kisses him, his self-control goes up in flames.  And when she tells him he’s just a one-night stand, he refuses to take “no” for an answer.

Kate must build a bridge from her shattered past into her future.

 Randall must bridge the gulf of distrust between himself and the one woman who can reach his heart.

Hope you enjoy reading it!

Sale! Three Whisper Horse novels for $8.97 on Kindle!

TAKE ME HOME and COUNTRY ROADS, Books 1 and 2 of my award-winning Whisper Horse series, are on sale for $1.99 each on Kindle until September 30th. That means you can buy all three Whisper Horse novels for just $8.97. It’s like getting one book for FREE!

Here’s the series link: http://amazon.com/gp/product/B00W6R9AVU

TMH_FrontCover hi res

Final front cover CR

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00034]Don’t forget to add on the Whisper Horse Christmas novella, A DOWN-HOME COUNTRY CHRISTMAS for just $1.99.


Happy reading!

The writing of THE CEO BUYS IN

Writers make gazillions of choices when they create a story. I spend a great deal of time and thought on the names of my characters, as well as the proper setting for each scene. In fact, I often change the main characters’ names several times as I’m writing the book and get to know them better. This can make things confusing for my critique group. LOL!

I thought my wonderful readers might be interested in how I made some of these decisions for my latest release, The CEO Buys In.Herkness-TheCEOBuysIn-Final

  1. Trainor, Archer, Miller: all their names end in an –er sound because I wanted to signal immediately to the reader that these men are doers. They pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps through hard work and their own talents, not by riding on another person’s coattails. My heroes labored long and hard to achieve their success and now they deserve the reward of authentic love.
  1. The name of the exclusive club where my three heroes meet is the Bellwether Club. My editor and I went through dozens of possible names for the venue before we hit on the perfect one. Bellwether’s literal meaning is a male sheep that leads the rest of the flock, usually wearing a bell around his neck. However, a bellwether has come to mean a strong person who leads others and also an indicator of future developments or trends. My heroes are all leaders and innovators in their fields so the term fit them well.

bellweather sheep

  1. Each book has the same meeting scene in the bar of the Bellwether Club as its prologue. The action and dialogue remain identical in all three, but the point-of-view changes to the hero of each book. It was a fascinating writing challenge to retell the scene with completely different internalizations each time. The same words can have widely varied interpretations. One character notices body language another doesn’t. And of course, I can always end the scene in a slightly different place. That’s a handy little writer’s trick.

Horatio club

  1. The founder and owner of the Bellwether Club is Frankie Hogan. A self-made billionaire herself, she created her club when no other clubs would allow her to join. Now membership in the Bellwether Club is highly sought after amongst the rich and powerful. I wanted to give such a woman a worthy name so the folks at Kindle Love Stories ran a contest for me: nominate a real person in your life whom you admire. Frankie is named after one reader’s grandmother. When the reader was twelve, her 71-year-old grandma took custody of her and raised her. Now that’s making a difference in someone’s life!