Monday, March 9, 2015

Cover Up!

We finally decided on a cover for Jenny’s Revenge, A Steve Dancy Tale. During the course of our selection, I found an interesting article titled: What Makes for a Brilliant Book Cover? A Master Explains. The master is Peter Mendelsund, who designed the book cover for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo among many other titles. (You can see some of the rejected Girl covers by following the link.)

Here are quotes I like from the article:
historical fiction action adventure
Spine Most Important
“On one level, dust jackets are billboards. They’re meant to lure in potential readers.”
“A truly great jacket is one that captures the book inside it in some fundamental and perhaps unforeseen way.”
“If this author got a big advance, then you’re going to have to jump through some flaming hoops.”
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: It had to have what designers refer to as ‘the Big Book Look.’ In other words: really, really big text … Mendelsund did what he describes as the ‘dumbass thing’ of echoing the title visually on the cover itself, putting the text on top of an image of… a dragon tattoo. It was the rare case in which a novel had so much momentum that the best thing a designer could do was stay out of the way … The design featured at least one small victory against the obvious: the bright yellow backdrop … ‘Up until that point, I would defy you to find a dark gothic thriller with a day-glow cover,’ he says.”

I’ve written a number of articles about book cover because they're important. People really do judge a book by its cover. Something to keep in mind, however, is that until an author breaks into the NYT Bestseller List, the spine is the most important part of the design because that's all anyone will see on the shelf of a brick and mortar bookstore.

Western historical fiction series
Honest Westerns ...
filled with dishonest characters

When we selected the cover for the first Steve Dancy Tale, we used an L. A. Huffman Montana Territory portrait from around 1880. Most genre Westerns displayed an illustrated action cover in eye-catching colors. We went with black and white photography to signal that The Shopkeeper was a different kind of Western. We've stuck with black and white period photography ever since.

The designer is my son by the way. I’m getting back his tuition from that pricey art school one book cover at a time.  When we did the cover for The Return, the fourth book in the series, I asked if my name could be larger. He informed me that when my name became bigger than the title, I’d be toast.

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