Cover Image Quandary – Part 2


I know, I know. It’s been a whole month since my previous post about choosing the cover image for my upcoming Jane Austen devotional (read more about the book here and here). And I’ve even had benefit of all your advice. So what’s my problem? Too many good options and a case of analysis paralysis. I am getting closer to a decision, but I’m still not quite ready to make the final choice.

I really appreciated all the feedback you gave me on my last post (here and in your comments on Facebook). No really strong consensus developed, however. Turns out, you like mountains and sunsets and lakes and flowers and gardens too! Then, to further complicate my decision, the excellent idea of using an image of a church was suggested by more than one person.

But I did come away with a couple of useful thoughts.

First, there should be a Jane Austen connection evident on the cover. And while this could be achieved with her name and perhaps her silhouette, it would probably be even better if the subject matter of the image itself conveyed at least a subtle connection to her, since it is a Jane Austen devotional. If it’s a picture of a garden, it should be an English garden. If it’s a lake or a mountain or a woodland scene, it should look like a place we can imagine she might have visited, not one an ocean and a continent away, with the wrong kind of terrain and trees.

Secondly, it became clear that the photos needed to be cropped and color adjusted (many appeared quite dark) in order to be judged fairly.

So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve taken three of the previous batch and added a few new ones that meet my updated search criteria. Then I framed them to look more like book covers. You’ll still have to use your imagination, though, since inserting text boxes and beautiful lettering is beyond my capabilities. But I know that the graphic designer who creates my covers can make any one of these work.

Let’s say that last month’s slate of hopefuls were semi-finalists, or those running in the primary election. Now that the field has been narrowed slightly and you’re being given a clearer picture of how each of the candidates would look in the office, which one of the finalist do you think fills the role best?

Without further fanfare, here they are, our seven finalists!

1) the Sunset, back by popular demand. Could be anywhere. No doubt Jane Austen saw and enjoyed many like it.

Devotional lake 4 modified half

2) the Hydrangea. Also very popular last time. Now zoomed in on and cropped to fill the whole cover. Something like it could have grown in Jane Austen’s garden, right?

hydrangea cropped mod 2 half

3) the Roses. Different kind of flower, but similar treatment.

Roses cropped mod 2 half

Now, for the new entries:

4) Chawton Garden Gate (photo courtesy of Joana Starnes). Jane Austen undoubtedly walked here many times when visiting her brother Edward at the Great House, next door to the cottage where she spent the last several years of her life.

gate modified.jpg

5) Chawton Church: St. Nicholas (photo courtesy of Joana Starnes). Although the building looked different in Jane Austen’s day (burned and rebuilt since), this is where Austen would have attended church during her years at nearby Chawton cottage. It’s also where her mother and sister are buried. (PS – Early returns are telling me that the colors on this one need to be lightened/brightened, and I agree. Dreamy is fine, but we don’t want it to feel gloomy.)

church modified 2.jpg

6) Woodland Bluebells (photo courtesy of Joana Starnes) – near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. Did Jane Austen know similarly scenic woodlands where she could walk and enjoy the bluebells in the spring?

Spring Bluebells - Joana Starnes modified half 2

7) a View from her Window. Those of you who have visited Chawton cottage will have seen the view from the drawing room window, overlooking the garden. The photo I have seen shows a chaise longue in front of the window, which seems like just the spot to spend a quiet hour with a good book. (photo not displayed due to copyright concerns)

Well, that’s it! What do you think? Which of these options particularly inspire you? Which one would draw you in best, making you want to pick up the book and discover what’s inside?

I promise, this is the last time I’ll ask. I will put an end to my self-torture and make a decision soon. So the next time we discuss this subject, it will be for the official cover reveal!!!

What totally different feelings did Emma take back into the house from what she had brought out! – she had then been only daring to hope for a little respite of suffering; – she was now in an exquisite flutter of happiness, and such happiness moreover as she believed must still be greater when the flutter should have passed away. (Emma, chapter 50)

About Shannon Winslow

author of historical fiction in the tradition of Jane Austen
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52 Responses to Cover Image Quandary – Part 2

  1. The church. Definitely the church.

    Second choice tie: the window view from Chawton’s drawing room OR Chawton’s garden gate.

    The flowers are lovely, but they don’t seem to go with the idea of a devotional and they aren’t linked with Austen directly (even if subtly) like the Chawton choices.

    Beautiful choices, Shannon!! 😀

    Soli Deo Gloria,
    Susanne 🙂

    Thanks for letting us assist in making the decision.

  2. JOAN REYNOLDS says:

    100% agree with Suzanne Barrrett

  3. danac2012 says:

    Hi Shannon – Hope this finds you well!
    My thoughts and what they maybe worth….
    “View from her Window” Makes me thinking and ponder and a bit somber.
    “the roses” Makes me happy and want to put them in the center of my room to enjoy.
    “the woodland Bluebells” Makes me want to wonder into the woods and maybe find out what else I will find or maybe just dance there.
    “Chawton Church” Is just a bit sad for me the colors are not inviting so I pay no mind to it.
    “Chawton Garden Gate” cause me to pause and enjoy the garden before the gate and wanting to discover more of the garden, which in turn I really pay not much to the gate at least not yet.
    “The Hydrangea” are pretty and that is all to it for me.
    “The Sunset” is just every day seeing in photos and yet beautiful not much else for me.
    There you have my opinion of them and if I had to choose two I would choose:
    “View from her Window” and “The Roses” They make me want to pick them up and want more if they were on a cover of a book.
    Well my friend I will miss seeing you and talking with you in person, although enjoying your website and all……have a wonderful day and I look forward to what you choose.

    • danac2012 says:

      PS. . . I will change the word somber to dream, sence, feeling….more in thought

      • Thanks for such a thorough response, Dana. Lovely to hear from you and to know your thoughts on each one of these! Yes, the church scene would need a little more color adjustment. Dreamy is fine, but I don’t want it to look gloomy. I was even thinking about going over it with my pastels to freshen it up! As an artist, you should appreciate that idea. Yes, stay in touch! Things change, but I’m glad we don’t have to lose contact entirely!

      • danac2012 says:

        I so agree. . .needs freshening up – more life into that photo of the church. . .although if you noticed I did change the word. . .somber as that isn’t what I was thinking. . . fully.
        To me the church is so much like your other book covers although the window depicts your books but not so similar to the other covers you have on your books. . .the window creates more depth of thought.
        It is my joy to be able to stay in touch. . .again I look forward to what your new cover will look like. . .just a note. . .I sent out this link to a few people to get their thoughts too on what they would choose for your new cover. Always a joy. . .DanaC

      • Linda Hall says:

        Shannon, I personally would be drawn in by #1 The Sunset. As I first find a quiet place to enjoy your new book I want to have my mind and heart in the right place. This for me draws me into a place where I can let go and receive something new and refreshing.

      • Linda Hall says:

        Dear Shannon Great to see your beautiful work. Look forward to seeing what you choose. Love Linda Hall

  4. evamedmonds says:

    I like Chawton Church and then Gate. I agree that the cover should convey a tie-in to Jane Austen. I also agree that the colors of Chawton Church should be lightened.

    • I absolutely agree. It was a cloudy day. I did what little I could, but I’m sure someone with more skill (like my graphic designer) could make the scene lighter and brighter. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Chawton Church, for sure! Good luck getting this beautiful devotional ready for publication. I can’t wait to read it 💕

  6. Cris Laragan says:

    Cris Laragan says: I like the window it makes me ponder and want to pick up a book to see what is inside. I agree Jane Austen should have a tie in somehow….P.S. Dana Critchlow is my sister and she forwarded the link to me for input.

    • Hi, Cris! Any friend (or sister) of Dana is welcome here. Glad you stopped by, and thank you for sharing your opinion!

      • Cris Laragan says:

        Good luck on your decision.

      • My vote is the garden gate!
        1. It beckons me to go on a journey of discovery.
        2. Gardens are places of beauty, peace, and details – which is why we often go to garden spaces to be with God.
        3. It’s says English garden, which is very Jane Austen.
        4. I’m just drawn to it.

        Second vote is church

        (I’m a friend of Dana Critchlow’s, and she asked me to take a look 🙂

  7. Nicole says:

    I like the church photo, feels good for a devotional. Evokes that feeling, and great tie in with Austen directly.
    Looking forward to see your vision!

  8. Beatrice says:

    I like choices 4, 5, & 6 best. I say use the church this time; it gives me such a powerful sense of peace. Save the gate & bluebells for other books; I can well imagine poignant stories involving stepping through those gate posts or taking place in the woods amidst the bluebells – or both. Choice 1 is dramatic but over-used; choice 2 I would like in a jacket. I dislike choice 3. Choice 7 looks comfortable but would not draw me into a book.

  9. Sonia says:

    Shannon, only Chawton’s Church will do! In the photo you presented, it appears as if it’s shrouded in fog, so “lift” the fog and let glorious colors appear. Then it will evoke a Sunday morning when one can imagine the church bells ringing. Just right for a devotional. Also, that sheep grazing in the foreground makes for a truly bucolic setting. I have no second choice; it’s Chawton’s Church all the way!

  10. BarbNH says:

    I like numbers 1, 3 and 4. I think the roses are particularly lovely colours. The gate is probably my favorite, it almost say’s “welcome, come in and find peace in my garden.” I like the church too, but as you say it’s a tad gloomy and the sheep has that unfortunate green bullseye on it’s side.

    • I’m sure we can resolve the bullseye and the gloom with some photoshop work. But I love the gate too… and the window… and the roses… Oh, dear! Every time I think I’ve almost decided, I start going round and round again. Thanks for your comments, Barb!

  11. Suzanne says:

    I vote for the view from her window. So peaceful and joyful.
    Second choice – garden gate.

  12. Michelle Whitby says:

    I LOVE the view from her window…….but, wonder if the Chawton church gives more useable space for text and titles etc 🤔🤔
    I tried to imagine the window view cropped and with text boxes and sadly I couldn’t see it. But let your designer try! 😊
    Waiting in anticipation…..

    • I played around a little with the window picture, and I think the lines and patterns in the upper half of the window could be softened/obscured enough that the title could be placed there, and the author name at the very bottom. Because you’re right; there’s no room to crop anything off. Thanks for your comments and your “anticipation,” Michelle!

  13. So exciting that you have a devotional coming out! My mom introduced me to you and as a professional photographer these photos might come across as a bit bland, I noticed you mentioned you are having a difficult time deciding… wondering if there are more options that you may look into until you find one you love and feel connected to? I’m sure as an author the cover is very important and finding that one image that grabs you might be something worth waiting on until you see it and say, “YES” this is it without any hesitation! Out of these options I think the best is the “roses” option.

    • Hi, Kristin! First, please thank your mom from me for the introduction. I don’t have a big advertising budget, so I rely on word-of-mouth!

      Yes, the cover is very important. But I’m not sure my problem is a lack of enthusiasm or connection to any of these photos; it’s more the reverse. I love ALL of them for different reasons, and I can see how each one could become a lovely cover once my graphic artist works his magic.. But I’m willing to be wowed by something new too! I’m just running out of time, so I can’t procrastinate forever. 🙂

  14. Michelle H says:

    No matter which you choose I know I will buy it.

    Who is your audience? Personally, I adore photos of churches. And anything to do with Chawton is a win-win. Yes, that church photo needs to be lightened. But again, the question of audience. There may be a lot of readers of Austen and JAFF who don’t know her personal history and her own faith, but would give this a serious look by being connected to her. Do you want to draw in the believer who is a non-church goer? Or take the leap of faith that a symbol of religion will please the most pertinent people in your readership? My prayers rarely happen in church, and when I need the spiritual guidance it is in the quiet alone times. Looking out the window on a pleasant scene, garden or otherwise, lends itself to reflection and introspection. So, I do like the church photo minus the green sheep, and clouds. And the window and garden equally. But the flower strewn woodland has a lovely ‘God’s Creation,’ seeking that place away from the noise of man thing going for it. If you choose the window, please don’t lose the Gothic arch in the topmost framed panes of glass.

  15. Diana Hall says:

    5 and 7 speak to me!

  16. lauravranes says:

    I love the window. It has such a contemplative feel to it. Windows symbolize openness and illumination. Very spiritual…

  17. Sarah Courtney says:

    I like Chawton Church (I think it’s a fitting tie-in for a devotional), and I like Chawton Garden Gate just because it’s really pretty, and I like the mixture of man-made (the gate) and growing things. The view from the window is nice, but I feel like I’ve seen a *lot* of fanfic with window views, so it wouldn’t be my top choice.

  18. deborahanne2 says:

    I think #1 followed by #6. To me 1 shows hope. Number 6 makes me think of peace. I did my best introspection walking in the woods.

  19. Joan Duff says:

    I join ‘the Church’ and ‘the Gate’ suggestions … both give the feeling of quiet contemplation.

  20. I will chime in and say, first of all, how I understand how difficult your decision is as the photos are all so lovely. I would make a connection to Jane with Chawton gates.

  21. caroleincanada says:

    I’m late to the party, but I love the church one, but maybe whiten the sheep without his marking. I know they do that to determine whose is whose, etc., but on the cover of a devotional not so much.

    • How inconsiderate! Don’t they realize that those of us taking pictures want clean, white, fluffy sheep in our prize-winning shots?!? Haha! Yes, absolutely, the green bullseye will magically vanish in the final version. 😀 Thanks for commenting, Carole!

  22. Kebra says:

    Chawten Garden Gate gets my vote. It’s beautiful but still seems so English. The church or view from the window are also excellent choices.

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