It seems as though the past few months have sped by with a mind of their own since getting the latest Flint K-9 Search and Rescue mystery — Inside the Echo — out at the end of February. I’m pleased to say that the book has been doing well, and even more pleased to note that the third book in the series is proving a lot more amenable to being written than Echo was. That book was a beast! This one, on the other hand, tends to write itself whenever I give myself a moment or two to let it do so. It’s been a real joy.
With the novel moving at such a good clip, it’s now time to start thinking about the book cover. Though I know it’s a challenge for many authors, this is actually one of my favorite parts of being a self-published author: working with my designer to come up with exactly the right cover to convey the tone of the book in a way that is visually engaging for readers. To be honest, my designer — Alisha, at a company called Damonza.com — does most if not all of the heavy lifting there. All I do is give her some details and then follow up with feedback after she’s given a few choices.
With the Flint K-9 series, I like this process even more because I’ve been able to supply the cover models for both The Darkest Thread and Inside the Echo. For The Darkest Thread, the model for Jamie Flint’s German shepherd Phantom is a beautiful shepherd named Sadie – a rescue who found her forever home with Pope Humane Society executive director Tracy Sala. Tracy provided the photos for that cover, and all I needed to do was pass them on to Alisha. Here’s the final result:
For Inside the Echo, the cover model turned out to be one of the dogs owned by Caroline Blair-Smith of Mornington Crescent Dog Sledding – a gorgeous sled dog named Sgurr. My cover designer worked some Photoshop magic on this one to make it work with the rest of the cover, so (trade secret time) it’s actually Sgurr’s head on another dog’s body. Mad Frankenstein business, this cover design trade. At any rate, here’s my original photo, and the finished book cover:
All of that brings me to the point of this post: the cover model for the third book in the Flint K-9 Search and Rescue series, entitled The Crush. In The Crush, an animal hoarder is found dead the night before police and animal rescue organizations — including Jamie Flint & co. — are scheduled to come in and remove the animals from the home. The woman’s autistic adult son has gone missing at the same time, and is a suspect in the murder.
One of the main characters in this novel is Reaver, an emaciated young pit bull the victim “rescued” from a dog fighting ring down south… Only to realize she had no way to help rehabilitating the animal. Consequently, Reaver has been chained in the woman’s yard for the past six months, terrifying everyone who passed. In The Crush, Jamie and her son Bear take Reaver on as a special cause, working to rehabilitate the dog in the hopes that he might find a home with them on Windfall Island, the Maine island from which Flint K-9 is run.
I’m doing a cover model contest to find the right dog for the cover of The Crush, with the grand prize winner receiving a $100 check for the animal rescue of their choice (along with, of course, their photo appearing on the cover of the third Flint K-9 novel). I would like Reaver to be the dog on the cover, which means there are some things to keep in mind. Reaver is a male pit bull, about ten months to a year old. The trick here is that in order to ensure that I’m not pushing the old stereotype of pit bulls as a vicious and unmanageable breed, it’s critical that the winning photo be one where the dog does not look mean. He also can’t look too happy, though… If you have a pit bull that you rescued who may have started out in challenging circumstances, those early photos may work well for this.
The winning photo must be hi-resolution (300 dpi or higher preferred), and one you either have the rights to yourself, or are able to secure those rights for both promotional purposes and for sale, since that photo will be the basis for the book cover. There will be other categories in the contest, with all entries compiled into a promotional YouTube video I’ll create myself. Ten finalists in each category will be selected by popular vote, with winners chosen from a jury of three professionals (including yours truly, of course). Voting will begin Monday, May 21st, and winners will be announced on Monday, June 4th.
For complete details, join my Facebook Live chat today (Monday, April 23rd) at 4 p.m. EST on my Facebook author page (http://facebook.com/jenbloodauthor), or go to https://woobox.com/ytbg3j to submit a photo. Best of luck!
Jen Blood is USA Today-bestselling author of the Erin Solomon Mysteries and the Flint K-9 Search and Rescue Mysteries. To learn more, visit www.jenblood.com.