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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Guest Post and Giveaway with Samantha Durante, author of Stitch

Hi, everyone!

I am pleased to participate in Samantha Durante's Stitch Virtual Blog Tour.

About Samantha:

Samantha Durante lives in New York City with her fiancĂ©, Sudeep, and her cat, Gio.  Formerly an engineer at Microsoft, Samantha left the world of software in 2010 to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams and a lifelong love of writing.  A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, Samantha is currently working full time for her company Medley Media Associates as a freelance business writer and communications consultant.  Stitch is her first novel.


Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, Samantha!

Samantha has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to her.

Designing the Stitch Cover
By Samantha Durante

We all know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it: how can you not?

I can tell you with certainty that the cover is a HUGE part of getting readers interested in the book.  In fact, I would estimate that at least 20% of the bloggers I’ve contacted (that’s one out of every five) have mentioned that the cover influenced their decision to review my book.  And that’s only the people who told me!

Though Stitch is the first book I’ve written, I’ve read a lot of books over the years, and I know that as a reader, I often find myself drawn in by an intriguing cover.  I also knew that the cover – maybe even more so than the blurb – usually sets my expectations as what to I will find in this book, and if the cover doesn’t match up to what the story delivers, I find myself disappointed.  As such, it was my goal to create a captivating cover that would get readers interested in Stitch and also give them some clues as to what was in store for anyone who chose to read it.

For Stitch in particular, there were a couple challenges regarding the cover design that centered around the fact that the book spans the genres of paranormal romance and dystopian sci-fi.  It needed a cover that conveyed a little bit of both and didn’t lean too heavily in one direction – I didn’t want readers to feel like they’d been duped by the cover into reading something different than what they wanted.  Though Stitch starts out as paranormal romance, it’s really dystopian at its core.  But at the same time, however, the dystopian thing – though hinted at the blurb – is a major part of the twist of the story, so I needed to be careful about not revealing too much.

Going into the design process, I had some ideas about some elements I thought would be good to include and the general look and feel I was going for, but when it came time to bring this all to life, I relied heavily on the expertise of my cover designer, Damon from  Damon proved to be a huge asset in turning my ideas into reality – I absolutely could never have arrived at this design without his input.

Following is a quick overview of our step-by-step revision process.  And since even a writer has to admit that images are often more powerful than words, I’ve included accompanying pictures of the draft covers so you can watch the progression as they became more refined:

The First Draft:

Here are a few snippets from the initial design briefing I sent Damon:

“In general, I'm looking for something clean, simple, and modern.”

“The challenge is that I want to hint that there is more to this story than a regular old paranormal romance, but without totally giving away the twist. One idea I thought of is to try to show the ‘stitch’ – I'm envisioning a brain synapse and some way of showing that the neurons are being rewired and when they do, there is some sort of explosion (kind of like the whiteout that you see in movies after an atom bomb). I keep seeing this in my head as an animation, so I'm not really sure how to capture it in a still image!”

“The other problem with this idea is that it doesn't have anything to do with the romance or the ghost or anything that the reader is initially expecting… Some elements from that aspect of the story that we could use are the main characters’ eyes, or some way to make things look ‘ghostly’ like haze or something like that… I might also be open to using the characters themselves, but I'm not totally in love with the idea – maybe silhouettes or hands or something might be a good solution [so that we don’t plant too much of a picture in the reader’s mind]?”

And here are the two options that Damon came back with:

Not bad for a first stab, right?  I was quite impressed.

The Second Draft:

I knew almost immediately that I was leaning towards the first version.  I’m a big fan of blue and purple, and I loved the feel of the white cover.  BUT, there were still some issues I wanted to address.  This was the feedback I gave Damon:

“I like the models you picked, but I think it's too much face - I want to leave the characters more to the reader's imagination.  Is there some way we can zoom in more on the eye portion and less on the rest of the face?  I'm not sure if they can still face forward or if they might need to turn to the side in profile or at an angle…”

“[Regarding the male model] I was envisioning him with slightly sharper features and the hair as being slightly neater and more modern - the current model's hair reminds me of Luke Skywalker, which is cute, but not exactly what I was going for!”

“I like the font for Stitch, but I feel like the font for Samantha Durante is a little too sci-fi-y.”

Again, Damon took everything I said and came back with a much improved second draft:

The Third Draft:

At this point, I was still struggling with the idea of having the characters’ faces on the cover, especially since none of the models I’d seen exactly fit the images in my head.  My beta readers in particular were very averse to the faces, so I was strongly hoping to find a different solution.  My comments:

“Still too much face…”

“Not sure how much it will matter once we zoom in more, but the male model still isn’t *quite* right.  I think I would like the hair to be a little bit neater (less of a surfer dude feel) and I think I liked him better clean-shaven.  Also, the jawline might be a little too sharp – I’m not positive, though, maybe it would be fine once we address these other issues.  (I know this is SUPER nitpicky, sorry!)”

Damon took my feedback in stride and came back with a fantastic updated concept:

The Fourth Draft:

I LOVED this last revision.  I knew right away that the female face wasn’t the right one, but I was confident at this point that we were on the right track.  My comments:

“I love where you’re going with this – the eyes are so much easier to see and all of the ‘too much face’ issues are resolved.  I think the male side is perfect, but I’m finding the female side a little disorienting, I think b/c you can’t see the outline of her face as clearly so it looks like the parts of her face are floating…  Also, I think female model is a little too ‘vixen-y.’”

Here’s the update from Damon, which ended up being *thisclose* to the final version:

The Fifth Draft (yes, we’re still going!  Poor Damon):

He probably wanted to murder me at this point, but I was still looking for a couple minor adjustments:

“One last revision and I think we'll be done – from far away, it kind of looks like one crazy face. The position of the female is perfect - just darken up the edge closest to the tear and it will be clear she's one separate face. On the male side, I think we just need to move him right a bit so that the edge of his face is visible and, if needed, darken the edge of his face so that it's distinct from the tear and the female. Then I think we'll be set!

And Damon valiantly came back almost immediately with the changes I’d requested:

The Sixth Draft (we’re done!  Finally!):

After one more small tweak, the design was complete.  This was my request:

“I think we're showing just a bit too much of the male's lips.  It's ok if there's a hint of the top of the upper lip, but everything below that I'd like to fade out.  Let's do that and then I think we'll be set!”

Sure enough, Damon did exactly as I asked and came back with what ended up being the final cover for both the e-book and print version:

So as you can see, a LOT of work goes into the cover design process (mostly on Damon’s end… sorry!!), but when we finally reach the finish line, it’s definitely worth the effort!  Thanks again to Damon for sticking with me through a grueling design process and for bringing the book to life with your awesome design!

Thanks so much for joining us today, Samantha!


Three lucky winners will win digital copies of Stitch.

Her heart races, her muscles coil, and every impulse in Alessa's body screams at her to run... but yet she's powerless to move.

Still struggling to find her footing after the sudden death of her parents, the last thing college freshman Alessa has the strength to deal with is the inexplicable visceral pull drawing her to a handsome ghostly presence. In between grappling with exams and sorority soirees - and disturbing recurring dreams of being captive in a futuristic prison hell - Alessa is determined to unravel the mystery of the apparition who leaves her breathless. But the terrifying secret she uncovers will find her groping desperately through her nightmares for answers.

Because what Alessa hasn't figured out yet is that she's not really a student, the object of her obsession is no ghost, and her sneaking suspicions that something sinister is lurking behind the walls of her university's idyllic campus are only just scratching the surface...

The opening installment in a twist-laden trilogy, Stitch spans the genres of paranormal romance and dystopian sci-fi to explore the challenges of a society in transition, where morality, vision, and pragmatism collide leaving the average citizen to suffer the results.

Buy Links:

To enter the giveaway, please fill out the Rafflecopter entry form below.

This giveaway is open worldwide to anyone who can read a digital book.


  1. oops! I messed up my entry no 23 and 24. I am a fan of both pages

  2. Thank you for the international giveaway!
    Martina (skyline1210)


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