We’ve already said that one of the reasons we started this site was to follow the journey of some of our favorite fanfiction stories as they enter publication and, for a lucky few, eventually get turned into movies. But as you will see with Jada, there’s more to the journey of these stories than just the author’s. Jada’s love for fanfiction has inspired her to help bring the stories to life via visuals, first in the form of blinkies, which are 15 seconds of a mini-movie, and now with beautiful book covers. Being able to turn her love for her favorite stories into a business of designing covers is a huge success story in the fics to flicks journey in our book!
Thanks for joining us, Jada! Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, two years ago I was a wife and Stay at Home Mom and now I’m still doing that, but I also design book covers and book trailers/blinkies. Really makes for interesting conversations with other moms at the playground, I’ll tell you that! It’s funny how everyone just suddenly gets quiet when the words “I design book covers for romance & erotic novels” comes out of your mouth. Come to think of it, those words bring silence every time I say them: the bank, the school, the neighbors…*shrugs* I guess it’s not what you expect a mommy in a cardigan sweater to say. LOL!
How did you first get started doing fanfiction blinkies/gifs?
I became a fan of fanfiction, and it was a wonderful escape for me to get lost in the characters. A friend of mine started writing, and she asked if I could figure out how to make an animated gif, aka blinkie, to advertise her story on fansites. I had no idea how to do that! Luckily, Google is your friend, and before I knew it, I was making these gifs not only for my friends, but for authors whose stories I was crazy about, as well. And it felt good to give back to those authors. It was the least I could do!
What software program do you use, and do you have any tips for people interested in making their own blinkies/gifs?
Animation Shop is a great program for blinkies/gifs because there’s a great amount of effects to play with. If you’re doing a book trailer, it’s good, as well, to use with movie making programs. I do like to make sure that all of the trailers I make are small enough to be in blinkie form as well though.
One of the things I loved about the Fifty Shades book trailer was the fact that it was a scene, not a description of the book. For me, I felt that it would make a much larger impact to spark the reader’s curiosity. It was also a challenge to show the characters, without actually showing them. With the movie being made, we didn’t want to put a face to these characters. However, I still needed to bring in their personalities. Using dialogue was the key. Another challenge was the Red Room of Pain, how to present it along with the shock Ana has when she sees it. At first, we had photos of the actual items in the room, but it lacked the impact you get when reading the book. In the end, we decided that showing activities that could take place in the room worked much better.
I hope I captured the flow and feel of the book. The trailer was a blast to make! Going from the reality of calm black and white, then jumping to the fast paced, rolling reds to show the difference between the two sides of Christian’s world: the one on the outside of that door and the one on the inside of it. (A/N: She captured it perfectly! Watch here.)
As mentioned, you now design book covers. When did that journey begin, and where do you see it taking you?
When S.L. Scott decided to publish her first book Naturally, Charlie about a year ago, she wanted me to make her cover because she was already a fan of my fanfiction artwork. I was beyond honored, being a fan of hers, and it really was a great opportunity for me. I figured that if it didn’t work out, at least I tried. Now, my portfolio just keeps growing and growing, and just when I think it’s going to slow down, it picks right up again! So I’m really grateful to her for believing in me.
I don’t know where this ride will take me, so for now I’m just enjoying it. Hopefully, it will lead to more work, but even if it only leads to great friendships, I’d be happy with that! If I’ve learned one thing in the past 5 years, it’s that there’s some seriously talented women in this world who can write, edit, make artwork, etc., for some incredible stories. I just feel blessed to be a part of it. It’s been amazing.
How can others get in touch with you to use your book cover services?
I have a Facebook page (here) and if anyone is interested in working with me, feel free to contact me there. I really don’t have a certain ‘style’ of covers, so I’m pretty open to all ideas!
Which of your most recent book covers turned out even better than you expected?
The cover for Animate Me by Ruth Clampett was the one I was the most nervous about. I made so many mock-ups of that cover! But each time, I’d look at the hands and the cup with the design, and it just didn’t look right. It wasn’t until I just dropped back down to the basics and simply put the title on the cup that it all came together. Even then, I was nervous because it was so different. But in the end? I’ve received more compliments over that cover than I could ever imagine! It was a great surprise and looking back, it was worth the risk. Plus, Ruth and I had a lot of fun working on it, and I think that shows as well!
The author, Ruth, was kind enough to talk to us about working with Jada and to share her reaction to the cover.
When I first started seeing Jada’s work with other writers, I dreamed of working with her. I’ve been an art director for years, and I’ve always loved her design sense. But her talent goes beyond that for me. She has a true love of stories and characters that is reflected in her work. Her approach is always sensitive to the writer and the work itself, not just putting her own design stamp on everything. She listens and works with the author while still bringing her talent and special touch to every project. She also supports and encourages us with our writing and promoting efforts long after her work is done. Jada and I work really well together. She’s not just extremely creative, but enthusiastic as well, which brings a special energy to the process. I came to her with a pretty clear idea for what I wanted with the Animate Me cover, but she kept pushing to make it better. The final graphics of the title ended up being the biggest challenge, and she wouldn’t give up until we had it right. I’ll never forget the moment she came up with the final solution and sent it to me. I opened up the jpeg and fell in love…then cried tears of joy. Through it all Jada has become not just a valued designer to me, but a dear friend as well. (A/N: The cover is adorable, as is the story!)
What is one of your all-time favorite book covers that inspires you when you are designing?
I gotta be honest. What inspires me the most when doing covers are movie posters for romantic comedies! I think it’s because in the back of my mind, I’m hoping all these books get made into movies someday, because they’re all so darn good! Wouldn’t that be fantastic?! I think so…*smiles* (A/N: We couldn’t agree more!)
Social Media Links for Jada D’Lee Designs
Thanks for spending time with us, Jada. We thank you for your contributions to authors and readers and look forward to watching your career grow!