Marsha Canham's Blog

May 7, 2011

Fourth time is the charm? Maybe?

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 4:53 pm

I do my own covers.  China Rose was the first book I reissued myself, the first shot at formatting, the first shot at cover design.  We who do our own stuff, can’t use the covers that the publishers put on the print books because they have the copyright, ditto for any nifty artwork on the inside of stepbacks.

With my first attempt for China Rose, I thought I would try to convey the feeling of 1825 via an old map, a compass, and a rose.  I rather liked it, but it didn’t exactly scream ROMANCE!!!!!

After doing Bound by the Heart, Swept Away, and The Wind and the Sea, which were definitely throwbacks to the romance covers we all knew and loved, the map and compass for China Rose sort of stood out as being…well…not standing out at all, so I rummaged around on the photo sites and bought a new pic showing more skin and a rose. It seemed to be warmly received but something happened in the altering of the size of the original photo and someone politely pointed out that the man’s back no longer looked like a man’s back, but possibly a woman’s back.


Back to the drawing board.  Keep in mind, I was trying to work on The Following Sea at the same time, and I was also in Florida trying to paint a honkin big mobile home.  But in my spare spare time, I rummaged again and played with a pic of a ship sailing into a misty sea.  Cool.  Found another pic of a hunk (Jimmy Thomas, who was depicted so hunkily on BBTH and TWATS) and worked a few hours to get what I thought was a good compromise of skin, romance, and my sailing ship.

Unfortunately…or fortunately as the case might be…I’ve also started doing covers for fellow romance authors and Virginia Henley, who has been a close friend for so many years, we like to joke that we wrote our first books with chisels and stone tablets, asked me to do a cover for her backlist book, Wild Hearts.  And wouldn’t you know it, but the picture she chose for the cover was almost identical to the one I had used on China Rose.

So. What’s a girl to do?  Back to the drawing board for a FOURTH time.  And this time  I am determined this puppy is going to be fixed in stone, never to be changed again.  I’ve made all the rounds, to Amazon, Smashwords, and my web site, so that’s it. Done. Finished.

Hope you like it.



  1. I love it! The fourth is the charm, as you said.

    Comment by Susana — May 7, 2011 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

  2. It’s wonderful, Marsha…beautiful.

    Comment by Jill Metcalf — May 7, 2011 @ 5:22 pm | Reply

  3. Marsha, I liked the third cover with Jimmy Thomas and the sailing ship. You can stand in a bookstore and see so many clench covers that I doubt anyone looking at Virginia Henley’s WILD HEARTS would think of CHINA ROSE. The woman floating in the air doesn’t evoke romance the way Jimmy does.

    Comment by Phoebe Conn — May 7, 2011 @ 5:55 pm | Reply

  4. The Cover is beautiful, just so you know. I am in awe of anyone who can put together a neat graphic on the computer. Oh, I still have my original copy, but I need a new one. Mine are definitely dog eared. I’m glad you are doing this…thank you.

    Comment by Patti — May 8, 2011 @ 2:04 am | Reply

  5. Thank you for your post, Marsha.

    Frankly, I think each of your four covers is lovely and evocative. Had I seen any of them on a shelf at my local bookstore, or in an ad or a romance website, I’d want to read the description. But it’s your book, so it’s your decision. Good luck!

    Comment by Mary Anne Landers — May 8, 2011 @ 5:21 am | Reply

  6. Marsha, I loved all of them and the one with Jimmy Thomas was outstanding. I don’t necessarily think people would confuse your cover with Virginia’s, BUT the last one is magical! Beautiful, haunting, and unique. It’s beyond gorgeous.

    Comment by Jill Gregory — May 9, 2011 @ 4:07 am | Reply

  7. I so agree with Jill Gregory…the last one is magical and glows with the message of romance.

    Comment by Jill Metcalf — May 9, 2011 @ 4:55 am | Reply

  8. I was busy correcting galleys all weekend and only just saw this now (Monday morning).
    Your final cover is hauntingly beautiful. (I would never dare to disagree with Jill Gregory, LOL)
    My cover for WILD HEARTS ain’t half bad either. I’m so grateful for all your help.

    Comment by Virginia Henley — May 9, 2011 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

  9. Well thank you everyone for the comments. They make it difficult to get my head through the doorways, but I’m coping *grin*. And I enjoy doing the covers, so that’s a bonus.

    Comment by marshacanham — May 9, 2011 @ 1:39 pm | Reply

  10. The 4th stab at it really does the name China Rose justice. I must say that I loved the ship in the mist but this is a far better match for China Rose. Good choice Marsha.
    Please correct me if I am wrong, however, once you make a change (almost any change) to a graphic, you now own the copyright to that edited version. Perhaps you could get away with this with book cover graphics too.
    That way you could use the same original artwork that the Publishers own, change it just a little bit and voila, avoid copyright infringement. Just my two cents, worth every penny.

    Comment by Sean Henley — May 9, 2011 @ 2:03 pm | Reply

    • Sean,

      Hmmm..That I don’t know. An interesting question, however and it certainly could open up a whole new world of possibilities for doing covers, especially if the author loves the cover on the original print book. I’m just not sure about copyright laws on art.

      Oh, and…I hope you like your mom’s cover too *s*

      Comment by marshacanham — May 9, 2011 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

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