- by Vonna Harper
Fitness, Print & Romance Novel Cover Model (816 covers)
NASM Certified Personal Trainer (since 1998)
Self Defense & Kickboxing Instructor (since 1992)
1. You’re providing a unique service for writers by offering them a wide variety of cover possibilities. What made you decide to take the risk and have you been surprised by your success? Well I don’t see many things as a risk to me, since I’ve always done things that I wanted to do anyway, and I don’t pursue something unless I know it’s a great idea. Since I’ve started modeling in 1998 I’ve always done romantic, sensual and erotica couple images and they always came out great. So when I learned that a large % of cover images are bought from stock websites, and I knew that I had enough images to start up my own stock website to provide the romance novel industry with higher quality, targeted images directly for the romance novel industry, I did so
2. For writers who don’t know your story, what’s the background? How did you become a model and what else have you done? Wow, that is such an open question that could go from birth to the present! Well it started when my sister did a few photo shoots that came out great, she suggested I should as well, I thought “Hmmm???… Nah!”… My ex-girlfriend taught Taekwondo and cardio kickboxing classes and we ran into each other and I was heavy into weight-lifting, mentioned that I wanted to lean-up but hated cardio, and she suggested I take her cardio kickboxing classes. I thought “Hmmm???… Nah!” Then I was out at a night club and the most gorgeous woman I had every seen in my life (still to this day), walked up to be with a huge smile, where I instantly looked behind me to see who she was looking at, lol… and her first words were “Tell me you model?!?!?” I chuckled, again looked behind me, and said “Ahhh, no. Why?” And she said “You need to and should!” We hit it off, began dating So her suggesting, or rather insisting, that I model, had me take my ex’s cardio kickboxing class to lean up, and then I shot with my sister’s photographer, and that is where it all began As for what else have I done… we could be here all day! How about you just refer to question #7
3. You are open to working on unique covers for a specific book. What is that process like? Is there a lot of back and forth between you and the writer before the actual shoot? Yes, custom images are getting more and more popular as so many authors want an original cover that nobody else will have the same image of. The process is fairly simple; the author, or whomever is ordering the custom cover image, describes to me what they are wanting, whether just me, or a female model and me, what hair color and length the female model should have, her ethnicity, the look/feel of our attitude, and down to the attire, pose, expressions, props, etc. I then shoot it, select 5+ images, clean them up, and send them in low res/size for them to choose from for which is wanted for their cover, once they choose, I then send them that one image in full size at high resolution. The remaining images get put away in case they decide to do a series and want another image from that shoot as I’ll change up the attire a bit, poses, hand/arm positions, etc., to be able to use more images from that shoot for that one author for another custom image if so desired (thinking ahead ;)). None of the images from that set will go up on RNC for anyone else to buy/use.
4. I’m impressed by the emotion you portray. Have you had acting training? How do you get in the mood? Thanks! I’m glad that shows well in my images! I took a few acting classes in the mid 90’s, but I was already pretty good naturally at acting, so my emotions and expressions are from within, they aren’t acting. When I’m with a woman (someone I’m dating), that is how I look at them, hold them, and how I am with them (I’m a VERY affectionate, romantic, loving Pisces ;)), so I just see the girl I’m shooting with as someone I’m dating and everything comes natural
5. Perhaps the question I should ask is if you have a background in business. How about a quick course in everything you’re doing and plans for the future. A background in business? No, but I’ve always been rather keen and pick up on anything really fast and I analyze so much, which has me learning things really quick, no matter what it is. As for what my current plans are, I’ve been working on branding my name for many years now; even my friends introduce me as “Jimmy Thomas”, not just “Jimmy”. My goal right now is to be on the most covers than anyone in history by RT2011… and that means any kind of cover, not just romance novel covers. Although I don’t know what other media/cover has a particular person on it more than romance novels, so once I pass John DeSalvo’s cover count, I’ve reached that goal With that, I will take it to the media, networks, etc., to expose myself as the new Fabio, then get myself on talk shows (Ellen, Tyra, etc.), night time talk shows, product endorsements, commercials, cameo spots in movies, TV sitcoms, etc. Then also, with that branded name and celebrity status, all my inventions and business ideas will take off fast as they’ll then have a celebrity name attached to them, to market and sell them better than without one.
6. Although your Romance Novel Covers site is aimed at writers, do you contract with various publishers? Is that process different and if so in what ways? It’s not necessarily aimed at writers, as the majority of buyers are cover artists and publishers, as they are the ones, for the most part, who choose the cover images. Yes, more and more self-publishing authors are buying my images to turn them into covers, which is why I do try to shoot more on location or with a nice background as opposed to just a plane backdrop, as these self-publishing authors usually don’t know graphic design and they are choosing not to pay a cover artist to create their cover art for them, so they buy one of my images and usually through a free windows photo manipulation program, they add a title on it and their name and post it as their cover, so I need to provide plenty of “as is” cover images for them I also shoot plenty of plane background images as well as I’m limited on changing up the background with the amount of times I shoot, and I know that great cover artist will almost always take the models out of the background to put them on their own background design that they created as it is then their cover art. So even if I did a Highlander shot in front of a castle in Scotland, a great cover artist will still take me out of that image and put it on their own, which I completely understand as they are graphic artists who have their own ideas and creativity to create their own beautiful cover. Or, some will keep the background and just manipulate it some.
7. Where can writers go to learn more about you? My facebook “Info”page tells you a lot about me and what I do, have done, how I am personally, etc. www.facebook.com/ JimmyThomas DotCom otherwise you can read a lot about me in many interview questions like these, that are all over the web now
Don’t forget to checkout my 2011 Calendar: