Monday, April 25, 2011

How A Book Cover Changes

For my new book in September I’m working with a publisher I haven’t worked with before. It’s been really refreshing to see how my editor there has responded to my thoughts about the front cover.
The process started off with my editor sending me a first version of a possible cover. It looked like this:
Which is fine. I looked at it for a while and decided… it was fine. Just fine. But I couldn’t work out why I didn’t LOVE it. So I thought about it some more.
Obviously the first thing I realised was that my name should be bigger. That’s the first thing I think about most book covers, even of books I didn’t write. My name should be on there, and it should be bigger.
Then I thought some more and decided it looked a bit old fashioned – haven’t we all seen a target on a book cover about a million times before? And why is this target over a man who appears to be carrying a briefcase at the top of an escalator? Is that exciting? I don’t think so. And my name should be bigger. Oh, I said that already.
But instead of just saying what I DIDN’T like, I tried to find examples of covers I DID like, to give an impression of the sort of thing that I felt would work better for this story. So I sent my editor these three images:
I haven’t read any of those three books, so I have no idea whether they’re any good. But they all have dynamic, arresting covers that give you a strong idea of the genre and pace of the books (whether that’s accurate or not I can’t say – maybe one of you can read them for me and let me know). Also, they have all been very big sellers.
They’re all pretty similar, in a way, and I felt that was closer to the ‘look’ that would work for my book. I talked a bit about the strength of the silhouetted figure – they’re all crisp, sharp, more modern-looking. I like the angles, the contrasts… None of them features a dull man walking up an escalator. Their only weakness is that none of them has my name on it in big letters.
Then an amazing thing happened – the publisher actually paid attention to my comments! This has never really happened before. I’ve always given a lot of feedback about book covers, but I can’t remember a single bit of it ever changing anything with the Jimmy Coates books. But this time, my new publisher took my feedback on board, looked at the images I sent them, and sent back a new version of the cover for my book.
In my opinion, they NAILED IT. Here it is:
What do you think?
I love it.
It’s dynamic, it has pace and focus and, most importantly, it has my name in HUGE LETTERS at the top.
It’s published on September 15th.


Tommy Donbavand said...

Can't wait for this book and, yes, the new cover is spot on!

NutmegAngel said...

The second one is a definite improvement. The only thing with book covers that annoys me though is when part way through a series the whole style changes. Then the books don't match :(

Katherine Langrish said...

Joe, I'm writing one in this series too - and guess what, the publisher has paid attention to what I said about my cover art too! Like you, I could hardly believe my luck.

Your cover is terrific - dynamic and exciting. I'll look forward to reading it... and mine? It's a non-sparkly mermaid story called 'Forsaken': rather heart-wrenching (I hope), quite gritty even! - and the cover reflects it perfectly.

Joe said...

Ooh, looking forward to yours Katherine!