Mary: Let’s start with a little back-story, okay? I know you’re not wearing the author hat, but the design hat. Still, don’t you need a bit of back-story to create a cover? Well we want to know who you are, so give us your back-story. Not the author, not the design, but Sheri’s back-story.
Sheri: Hmmm, never, ever gave that much thought. I grew up amongst some of the best tall tale storytellers imaginable. Or so it seemed to me. My grandmother spoke of covering mirrors for three days when someone died for fear the soul might be trapped within, or how lightning bugs might be fairies, and of course making wishes. She died when I was five, and to this day, I miss her dearly. I grew up in the 60s and 70s…years both simpler than now yet filled with upheaval and protests. I think echoes of that time helped shape much of how I see the world now. I hear the echoes of that time in my thinking, my mannerisms, and see it sometimes in both my art and my writing. Growing up, I was surrounded by musically talented folks who I sometimes think felt a little sorry for me because while I could sing, I never learned to play anything. Well, I can operate a kazoo LOL. My brother was a very talented drummer. My Mom played piano. Dad played guitar and mandolin and was a wonderful woodcrafter, as was his father. If Dad could envision it, he could build it. My mom was the serious, responsible member of the family. I think I am more like my mom, responsible, sometimes too serious, and stubborn. I wish I could have been more like my Dad but contrary to my grandma’s beliefs, we don’t always get what we wish for, but we do most times get what we need to survive. I got my love of magic, elves and the Fey, lore and myth, and esp. my inquisitive nature from Dad’s side of the family. As a child, we moved around quite a bit, living in Ohio, AZ, and Kansas. All cherished experiences that I placed in my “Life” chest for future use. I have been married for 38 years! Sometimes that’s hard for me to realize. And I really am not that old I have one son, a DIL who is very good for him, and three wonderful grandchildren. I also have two doxies, one black lab and a cat named Kitty who adopted one of my doxies when we moved out to the country. Someone dumped Kitty and he decided he wanted to move in with us.
Mary: Apart from the fact you write, why and how did you get into cover design?
Sheri: I’ve always been into design, but mainly I hand drew things. Sketches, my dogs, trees, greeting cards…people. I loved and still love drawing cartoons, mainly cartoon dogs. I took a lot of art classes, but up until a few years ago, all my creations where for my own pleasure. When I wrote Elfen Gold as a poem (long before it became a book), I drew all the characters out in pencil sketch and at one point thought to copy paste the text and drawings together. This was before I had my personal computer and page layout software. Back in the typewriter days. Once I got my Mac, I sort of fell in love with it and its ability to render graphics. But again, I was still doing graphics for my own pleasure or for family and friends. I got into book cover creation a few years back when I was briefly a partner with an e-Book publishing company. I created simple covers for the authors accepted to the company. After I left, I decided I enjoyed creating covers for others, so hung out my shingle!
Mary: Now maybe you could tell us where you got your design talent? Or not. Your day job is a Graphic Arts Coordinator/Copy Editor in prepress. What exactly does that mean? How does it relate to the design of a cover?
Sheri: I am really a jack-of-all-trades in my day job, but I mainly proof work that has been typeset or created in the Graphic Design Department before it goes to press. I use Photoshop,
QuarkXPress, Word, Illustrator, and Acrobat daily, all software I use at home to create covers. I may not know the software in and out, but using it daily sort of takes away any intimidation. During the day, I check for errors, for position and size of files created in Graphic Design and make sure it conforms to requested guidelines and specs. I also coordinate the workflow. I get to be creative which is nice, but I don’t usually get to design anything. I sure see a lot of creative stuff. Perhaps that charges the brain cells? As to where I get my design talent, what I possess, I think I was born with it. I like to experiment with things, love layering and, especially with my pre-mades, try hard to create a book cover that hints at a story.
Mary: On your web site, (I will link your site here) you have a page with all your cover designs that you’ve created for other authors. You also have a link to pre-made cover designs. What are most in demand? What are the rates compared to working with an author and designing from scratch, as opposed to one you have already made? After you answer that, do many people buy your pre-made covers? Doesn’t an author have a cover already in their mind of what the want?
Sheri: I sell more personal order design covers than anything, but I have been selling my pre-mades. I love creating pre-mades. As mentioned above, I try to create a cover that suggests a story. Prices are pretty much the same. I charge a certain fee plus cost of stock art for an E cover. If your cover isn’t very time-consuming, or there aren’t a lot of changes and remakes, then the price is fairly low for my work. I do charge a small bit extra to create the full flat for a paperback. An example: If you have a pretty straightforward design, and maybe the creation only involves one or two stock art files, depending on the art costs, you might be looking at anywhere from $55 to $70 for a cover creation. (I provide several sizes of the cover, including a high res front.) I usually add an additional $10 for the flat. So those prices are close to the pre-made listings. I think some authors have a clear idea what they want, and some just don’t know. One thing I think an author needs to remember, and I ran into this a lot with the publishing house I was with, many authors think they have to get everything about their book on that front cover, and that everything must match. And they always think their name needs to be tiny!!! First, a cover is a promotional tool as well as a hint as to what is to come…a tease to the reader. It whispers, “Come, read me.” It needs to grab the readers’ attention and then it needs to express the genre. And be proud of your name. If you don’t think you deserve star treatment, who else will? And don’t be afraid to cover parts of your cover with text. Text is important too!
Mary: Congratulations! I see that you are a 2014 EPIC Ariana Awards Finalist (cover award) for the category of Romance for Payton’s Woman by Marilyn Yarbrough. That is awesome!
Mary: Now, finally, can you please share with us a bit about what type of books you write?
Sheri: I write mostly adventure and/or fantasy based on lore with almost always a gentle romantic thread woven into the story. Very clean. I have also written a few ghost stories and even a chapter for a writing guide on the Fey, but fantasy is my love.
Mary: We’re ready for a blurb and buy link of your latest book. Also, your web site, where you can be found on social media, etc.?
Sheri: My latest I guess is Summersong which is a novella I wrote that appears in a duet type book with Shannah Biondine.
Winds of Forevermore
Shannah Biondine and Sheri L. McGathy team up to deliver twice the mystical adventure in this enthralling fantasy duet. Here are faraway worlds of danger and intrigue, magic and enchantment, where mirrors hold strange and dark secrets.
A Varlet’s Bond
Captain Praxis, wyvern rider, former slave turned royal reeve and bounty hunter, has never forgotten her brief partnership with Prince Zavend of Glacia. (Mourn a Moonreft Sky). Years have passed and now find Praxis a wealthy woman and sometime comrade of Zavend’s disreputable brother, Vitus. A twist of fate draws all three back to the heart of Glacia, where an evil is spreading across the land. Can anyone or any sworn oath be trusted? Will Praxis find her heart soaring higher than a wyvern, or crushed once and for all?
Winner of the 2009 Eppie for Anthology – Single Title Story/Novella
Summersong, a magical border Keep created to maintain the fragile peace between Man and Faery, has lost its glory, its grandeur, and its loyal guardians. The land is dark, filled with turmoil. Yet, one bright glimmer of hope still exists. Long ago, Myree, daughter of a proud nobleman, made a childish vow of undying love in a secluded garden to an equally young Connair. Now grown, both have not forgotten their pledges. When Myree is abducted into a realm of shadows, Connair risks everything in his quest to save her and recover the heart of Summersong.
What Others are Saying:
“Shannah Biondine and Sheri L. McGathy craft magical tales of sibling rivalry and romance, self-discovery and love. Rich in likeable badgers, dragons, and faeries, and compelling with dark Ebons and haunted mirrors, Biondine’s skillful plot twist and McGathy’s imaginative, lyrical prose make this duet a read you won’t want to miss.”
~ Linda Madl, author of A Tender Magic
“Stories told under the stars weave a magic that is all their own. Here two storytellers tell us of love and magic. Two different times and places, and yet the magic they speak of is ancient and true. Sit by their fire and listen to their tales and find the magic in your own soul.”
~ Carol Hightshoe, author of the Chaos Reigns Saga
The book is available as a Kindle e-book and as a paperback. Amazon
Mary: Oh, and I almost forgot… NOT! Sheri designed the cover for my upcoming Illusion (Book IV of the Beckett Series). I love the cover. In honor of Sheri visiting my Garden I am unveiling the new cover!
When the Chief Financial Officer of the World Bank Group (WBG) is found dead in his Paris apartment, it’s a concern. But when the Chief Administration Officer of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, another WBG agency, is murdered on vacation, in the same fashion, it’s time to call in the FBI’s special terrorist task force.
Special Agent Reagan Beckett specializes in terrorists focused on shipping and financial backing, two major threats to the west coast. When a new threat looked toward one of the biggest worldwide financial institutions, she was the logical person for the team.
Reagan’s New York task force team includes a new partner, Paco Luis Perez from D.C., and FBI Special Agent, Spencer Alexander Williams III, advising as the local liaison. To work undercover with these two men, Reagan knows she’ll have to trust them with her life. Her preliminary research indicates both men have excellent records, accommodations to be proud of, and seemingly nothing to cause her much worry. Even Perez’s hot temper might come in handy, while Williams III’s arrogance and powerful Wall Street family could prove useful in tracking down the terrorist.
But Reagan knows one thing—when a terrorist is involved, most likely, there is someone on the inside. Before she can find the threat, she needs help figuring out whom to trust.
Five years ago Reagan left Brooklyn, and not under the best circumstances. Regardless of the strained relationship with her family, she turns to the only people she can count on for support in her quest to determine which man she can literally trust with her life and to bring down the terrorists.
For more details on the other books from The Beckett series check the Web Site.
The release date -- end of 2014.
Thank you, Sheri, for joining us. Also, I couldn’t be more happy with my new cover, thank you! Now that it is unveiled, I’m off to update my web site. Sheri, please come back soon!