How Soulless Got Its Cover (Parasol Protectorate Special Extras)

There’s been some murmuring about the blogoshere on the subject of my book cover.

Most people seem to really like it, and several wanted to know how it came to be. So I thought, Gentle Reader, I might tell you the story, because it’s slightly different from normal and rather fun.

Picture this: a newly minted author, familiar with the convention circuit but not with having sold a book, attending the Denver WorldCon.

  • She’s got her outfits planned (two a day), her stilettos on (ouch), and is excited to meet her editor and her agent.
  • She knows a few things about what to expect from the publishing industry, one of those things is: authors have no say in their covers. Just don’t even try, makes one look amateurish.
  • Her attitude: well, they bought it, they can wrap it in whatever they want. Besides, it’s their business to know what sells, right?

The scene is thus set.

So, I show up for drinks with my editor at the “wheeler & dealer” hotel (yes there’s the party hotel and then there’s the hotel where you really meet people) only to find editor has reinforcements: Orbit’s publisher and publicist. I’m suddenly quite nervous. However, we get along great. We’re nattering away, drinking too much, and I’m bubbling over with promotional ideas after listening to too many podcasts and going to too many panels on the subject. Alex (publicist) and I go to town brainstorming.

Then, at some point, quite casually someone asks me about the cover. Probably since Soulless combines so many sub-genre’s they’d like my input.

However, I’d been resolutely trying not to think about it, so I’m a little at a loss, but I promise if I come across anything inspiring I’ll send it along.

We left things at that.

Well, I belong to this wonderful LJ group called [info]steamfashion and I was reading my friend’s page one day and this image pops up:

I think to myself,

“That woman looks almost exactly as I imagined Alexia” (only Alexia has a larger frontal assault – so to speak).

So I gank the image and send it off to Orbit, with a little note saying I was thinking something along these lines might be nice.


So I figure they didn’t like it and continue working on the second book.

About a month later I get a friend notification out of the blue from someone named Donna Ricci on Facebook, with a note that says

“I’m just about to sign the contract for your book cover!”

Ah, the wonders of the internet – nothing stays secret for long. Turns out, she was the model in THAT exact image, which was photographed to sell a dress in her steampunk clothing store Clockwork Couture. Orbit tracked it down, figured out she was the rights holder, tracked her down, she tracked me down on Facebook, and . . .

Then Orbit’s art department took over. They apparently took a bit of influence from the Sophia Coppola Marie Antoinette movie poster (which is great costume porn but otherwise abysmal) and went to town adding a cheery modern edge that reflects the humorous tone of the book.

+ =

I love the result. I was particularly thrilled to find that Orbit’s art department actually had read the book, because there, on the spine was this:

There may, Gentle Reader, have been some rather undignified squealing when I saw it. Because add octopus to the fact that, there it was, the number of the book, on the spine! How many readers over the centuries have cried out for just such a simple addendum to one’s favorite series’ cover art?

Of course, I ordered the dress from Donna, but after some ruminations I’ve decided to go for a custom version in a color to match the cover of the second book, Changeless instead.

Donna and I have actually met in person when I went down to LA for the Brother’s K book launch party!

How many authors get to meet their cover model?

How cool is that!

She’s absolutely lovely and we’ve become quite friendly since. Although, I must say, she is a tiny little thing, and here I was imagining her all tall and statuesque like Alexia.

Quote of the Day:

“A lot of modeling is how much crap you can take.”

~ Lauren Hutton

Book most relevant to this post?

Badge Octopus Soulless Pin Parasol Protectorate Merch

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