Of Outtakes and Cover Stories

Ali Piacente sacrificing for the cause.

How many of us would show first drafts of our work? The thought makes writers cringe, and yet bloopers everywhere else – on TV, in movies, on the radio and on photo shoots – are funny and popular.

A lot of people ask me about the Bella cover. Some think it bears a resemblance to the other Bella, the one with all the biting. I had never seen the hands holding the Twilight apple when we went into production.

I believe hands are very expressive. They reveal emotions ranging from joy to anxiety. My Bella has lost her husband overseas. The military tells her one story; an anonymous caller tells her the official version is a lie.

All she gets back of her husband is the tattered remains of his Army uniform. As Bella grieves and tries to uncover the truth, she must also care for her young daughter. She seeks help from many quarters, including her congressman.

All this had to be conveyed in the cover. Official Washington was easy to portray, but those hands – they had to be perfect. I looked at many pairs before the right ones showed up two Thanksgivings ago. We were at my sister-in-law’s home. My younger daughter was carving tomatoes. I glanced up and realized I had my hands.

The right hands, at last!

The photo shoot was an interesting father-daughter affair. I went to her house and we took probably took 130 pictures of her hands high, low, inside, outside – you name it, we tried it. It wasn’t until she was stomach down on the dining room table that I got my shot. I went on the floor and shot up. She played along, and even gave a thumbs-up when I stepped and took the shot you see above. A talented designer named Josh Redmond put it all together.

I’m not asking to see your early drafts, but if you have a good cover story, please share.

The completed cover ...




9 Comments so far »

  1. Jenny Milchman said,

    Wrote on August 6, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

    I don’t have a cover story myself since my own novel won’t be out for another year and a half, but I love hearing about what a family affair BELLA is, and all the different parts that must come together in the creation of a book. You are a creative, hard-working bunch!


    stevepiacente Reply:

    Ha, thanks, Jenny. My one unflinching piece of advice to self-publishers is: Do Not Try This Alone!


  2. Judy said,

    Wrote on August 7, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

    I wouldn’t call it a cover story, but I know just how difficult it can be to get the right shot. As a video producer, I have a lot more out-takes than finished products. One time I was shooting a simple message on camera – a vlog for a customer. She just wasn’t ready to deliver the message she’d written on camera. A lot of people freeze up once that red light comes on and this was the quintessential example. What should’ve taken about 20 minutes, took an hour and a half, much of it spent trying to help her relax and just say what she knew she wanted to say. Between laughs and frustrated groans we finally managed to nail it. It’s all about patience and creativity, something you are obviously VERY good at, Steve.


    stevepiacente Reply:

    Thanks, judy, the products always prove you never leave until the job is done!


  3. Kate Kaynak said,

    Wrote on August 8, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

    I’ve been working with some talented artists for cover designs. I LOVE what Gary McCluskey did for UNCONVENTIONAL and Victoria Caswell did SUCH an amazing job on ELEMENTAL!


  4. Collette said,

    Wrote on August 9, 2011 @ 12:25 am

    I have a little family affair cover story myself. I was looking through some old Hawaii photos for the cover of my new book, Hannah’s Blessing. I just could not find one. Well, my youngest pointed to one and asked, ‘who’s that?’. It was my middle daughter running down a beach. Well don’t you know, my heroine was a single mom of a blond child! I felt sort of foolish actually. I should have thought of it myself. Needless to say, my middle child is thrilled that she’s on a book cover. I laugh and tell her that she’s forever immortalized – even though you can’t see her face!


    stevepiacente Reply:

    Terrific story, Collette, thanks for sharing! Inspiration springs from the most unlikely sources sometimes!


  5. Debbie A. Heaton said,

    Wrote on December 11, 2011 @ 11:32 pm

    For my book, The Haunting of Wolfe Haven, I had originally suggested that some wolves be used in the cover. In my story, the ancestral family home, Wolfe Haven, includes a topiary garden of a wolf pack because the family choose to honor the wild wolves that once roamed the area. But my publisher opted to dig out my description of the house itself which had undergone several rebuildings following some unfortunate disasters, and recreate it on the cover. I was stunned when I first saw it. They did a very good job of replicating the house.


    Steve Piacente Reply:

    Great story, Debbie, thanks for sharing. Folks can check out the cover at: http://www.debbieheaton.com


Comment RSS · TrackBack URI

Leave a Comment

Name: (Required)

E-mail: (Required)