Need a powerful and gripping cover for The Wanted Lawman by A.C. Smith. The book will be published through CreateSpace and Kindle. (So I need a front and back cover design compatible for CreateSpace, with a front cover that is adaptable for kindle (i.e.; looks good as a thumbnail, etc.) The book is a western/romance about a wanted man, tired of running from his past, who starts working as a sheriff's deputy in a small town of St. Elmo, Colorado. He doesn't want his fellow lawmen, or anyone else, to know that there is a bounty on his head. He falls in love with a woman, although he worries she will be jeopardized if his past ever catches up with him. (Not only is he wanted by the law, but by his old gang, who wants to kill him in vengeance for turning some of them in.) The book is set in 1893. It fits the categories of Western/Action/Suspense/ and Romance - so these are the genres and categories I want to reflect and the audience I want to target. Some parts of the book are quite gritty and dark, however, so I want something that conveys that mood. I will probably prefer darker backgrounds over lighter ones, for instance. One idea: a strong, good-looking male, late-1800s period clothes, either closeup (portrait or profile), or full standing image, (cowboy/lawman/deputy/gunslinger). Can be pictured with or without a revolver, or possibly a rifle (Spencer repeater or similar) (Not a shotgun). Could be pictured with or without a horse.
Types of period clothes that would be preferred include: western dusters (dark brown or black), gun belt, cowboy hat, preferably a badge (not a marshal's circular badge, though.) And sorry, no blue jeans - they're too modern. [Basically, look for the 'gunslinger' look, something bordering between the good and bad guys of the old west - between an outlaw and a lawman.]
I would really like a noose (hangman's knot) incorporated on the spine of the book, the front cover, or both. (Spoiler alert - because one of the main characters is hanged in the novel. Like I said, it's kind of dark, so I want to convey that.) Bonus points if it's a noose on a dead cottonwood tree, but there are also gallows in the book - so old west gallows are okay as well. It could maybe be set further in the background behind the character, for example.
I do warn that I could be quite particular about the 'character' chosen in the design. Has to be male, good-looking, around 30 years old, with dark hair, stubble beard or clean-shaven (no full beard). If you wanted to get around the particulars, then the back view of a gunslinger, for example, might work. (i.e. check out '3:10 to Yuma movie poster', for example). However, that image is a bit cliche though, and it may not quite work for what I want (since I want to portray a guy who is on the run, has a tortured past and a guilty conscience, not the guy who just gets to be the badass shoot-em-up type.)
Though I would like to have that alpha-male kind of character on the cover (for the romance audience) I'm not opposed to seeing covers with other things such as horses, the hangman's noose on a tree, etc. This is kind of where I want to see the creativity.
Would also be interested in covers that incorporate a both a man and a woman (woman: blonde, good-looking, 20-30 years old, late 1800s period dresses - but NOT in the style of typical romance covers (i.e. like the old 'bodice rippers', etc.) since I still want to convey the grittier themes of the book and not just give the impression that it's just a steamy romance. If you went with a male/female on the cover, the overall idea to convey would be a little sad, i.e., a woman who is about to lose the man she loves to the gallows.
Back cover designs could include a horse. Or just the aforementioned female. Or a stormy landscape. Open to ideas.
(If a horse is used, bonus points if it is a 'blue roan', a steel blue colored horse with black legs and face.)
The big point of the cover, to me, is to give the reader a strong impression of what they will be getting, which is why I detailed what the book is about above. I am trying to target two audiences of different genres. As far as targeting the romance reader, that is the reason why I warn that I will be picky about the male character chosen. (To target females in the romance genre who like the look of a strong, good-looking, alpha male type.) You could even go with an open-shirt kind of character (not too overdone). As long as it doesn't look like he's in modern times) and that would be great, as long as you're keeping with the darker themes as well, and not making it too blatantly sexual as to turn away the western genre audience.
I'm sure the details look exhaustive, but I'm actually pretty open-minded. Hopefully you can take the overall idea and theme and run with it!
NEW: I copied the original message I left in the 'references' section here for new entrants: I threw a board together of images/elements I like: https://www.pinterest.com/ac9966/99…pirations/
(See captions to the photos regarding what parts I like about them.)
Other things: I don't want a title that is hard to read or disappears into the background. Preferably, it could also be read at thumbnail size.
The author's name in the western/romance genre is typically a large-sized font as well.
I forgot to add earlier, cover will be around 5.25" x 8" or 5"x8" with Create Space.
I'm also interested in a front-cover tagline as well, if there is room. Some initial ideas for a tagline:
-He's a dead man walking if they ever find out. . .
-It's hard to uphold the law with a bounty on your head.
-Having a badge doesn't save you from the gallows
Or if you can think of one you like better, go for it.
Here is the working copy for the back cover blurb:
Deputy Jesse Morgan has a dark past and will do almost anything to keep his secrets safe—especially from his fellow lawmen. After all, he’s a wanted man. When he’s tasked with helping the Sheriff's sister-in-law, Cecilia Drake, move to town, he gets more than he bargained for. Cecilia does something that inadvertently blows his cover, and Jesse fears it may bring the vengeance of the law and his old gang upon his head.
Jesse knows the safest bet is to get out of town and keep running, just like he’s always done before. But he can’t bring himself to leave. He loves St. Elmo, and more than that, he’s fallen for Cecilia. Hard. But when a bounty hunter comes sniffing around town, it kicks off a chain of events for Jesse that could jeopardize the lives of everyone that he loves.
The Wanted Lawman is a heart-wrenching novel that will make you laugh, curse, and grit your teeth in suspense, leaving you emotionally entwined from one page to the next.