The making of the cover for The Way of the Bodyguard

This article originally appeared in Nick Spill’s blog.

The_Bodyguard_1992_Film_Poster     Wayof proto2

Book covers sell books

If you are publishing your e-book independently and  want a book cover that sells, you do what the big publishers do. After a lot of research, you create a concept of what you want to see in your cover then you hire a photographer and an experienced creative designer. You find the right models. Combining all this talent, you create the cover that will sell your book like digital hot cakes

I loved the poster for the film The Bodyguard because it evokes strong feelings about a bodyguard who is protecting a beautiful and threatened woman. I was working with a client at the time when the film was being shot at the same hotel, the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. My client was such a challenging person, I judiciously left any mention of him out of my book. But I wanted to use the poster imagery to present a bodyguard carrying his Protectee to safety, like the fairy tale about the damsel in distress and the knight who rescues her.

Toby screen1

The Book Cover

There is a scene in The Way of the Bodyguard where I run along a beach carrying my Protectee in my arms just before dawn, with paparazzi out of range. I managed to get the Protectee back to her hotel room, safe and sound. You will have to read the book to find out the hilarious and sordid circumstances. It was this image that inspired the book cover.

 

Wayofproto 2

The Photographer

I have a good friend Leon Smith who is a gifted photographer. He agreed to shoot the cover. (He also shot my recent author photo that appears in The Jaded Kiwi). I showed him sketches and photos I had researched as well as the poster from The Bodyguard. We worked out what we wanted to show in the cover and the limitations and advantages of making a compelling e-book cover. Leon knew the cover had to create an impact in just a 100 pixel thumbnail, so composition was critical. We found an excellent location and Leon experimented with dressing and lighting the set.  Next we had to find the right talent.

The Talent

We live on Miami Beach. There are so many beautiful people who live and visit here. So it was easy to find the right models. I did not have to look far. A client whom I have known for years, who is beautiful and in great shape, agreed to be the damsel in distress, though you cannot see much of her body. “I guess my butt is all that shows,” she said, after looking at the proofs. “And it’s a great butt!” I replied. My younger son whom I’m told is the handsomest man in Miami Beach, volunteered to be the bodyguard. In real life, he is a developer and real estate broker.

The Shoot

I have been on countless bodyguard details for photo and film shoots, but it was different to be in control of my own book cover shoot. Security was tight! But there was no Green Room.

We worked though one humid Miami Beach night to get the perfect image. Leon Smith is a master at painting with light. Included here are some “making of” snapshots I took. We ran through countless variations in poses, props, clothing, guns and boots. There were discussions about whether to use a gun or not. Running with a Glock along a beach when there was no clear deadly threat was not true to the spirit of the book, even if it looked, to the uninitiated, sexy. We nixed the gun. Then there were all the different outfits our damsel in distress had brought with her. What were the correct boots? We did not want to copy the original film poster, but there was an element of homage. A strong handsome man carrying a beautiful young woman to safety is iconic. And to me, it captured an image from the pages of my book. We had several great shots in the can. Leon now had to prepare the best photographs and process them for the book designer.

The Book Designer

After more research and interviews, I discovered a book cover designer who had an exciting portfolio, could deliver on time, at a reasonable price. I wanted a romantic and dramatic image that would capture the imagination, but not look like either a romance story about bodyguards or a textbook on security. The cover had to stand on its own as a compelling image. And if I conjured up Caravaggio and the poster from The Bodyguard, I was serious. (Note to accountant: Is that trip to Rome where we looked at all the Caravaggios, tax deductible?)

Damon from Damonza.com provided three different design options. He delivered these in the promised time. Provided the same image and text, Damon used color, typeface and design elements to produce different visual effects. I sent out the three designs to friends, bodyguards, clients, lawyers, anyone who would look at the cover designs and render an opinion. This was the design the majority, including this writer, liked the best.

The Book Cover

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If the book cover works, you can buy the book here: on Amazon The Way of the Bodyguard.

 

 

Guest Blog on J.A. Konrath’s website:

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/07/guest-blog-by-nick-spill.html