January 2014 is a big thing for a lot of us here at the BookYArds – what better way to start out the year with a sudden influx of happy, pretty, sparkly book covers for our debuts? But what most people don’t know are the things that goes on behind the scenes. How are book covers born? What kind of planning is involved, from initial conception down to the final reveal?
I can’t speak for every author who’s had a book out, but here’s been my experience so far with my debut, THE GIRL FROM THE WELL.
I’ve been very happy to have the awesome people over at Sourcebooks helming my book – I’ve never seen an ugly Sourcebooks cover, and their final treatment of mine was practically perfect, in my opinion. Here’s the step-by-step process:
1. I knew early on that I won’t have as much say on the book cover at the start, though I was definitely invited to offer my own input if I didn’t like how it looked, or offer suggestions that would be taken into account, but would have no real guarantee on the final product. This is pretty normal, as most authors signed onto traditional publishing would tell you.
However, if a book cover makes you feel like you want to go out and punch a tree, then you can be very vocal about your dislike, and they will listen. I’ve known writers who’d been violently opposed to their book covers because of a lot of misleading information it depicts (wrong model for their MC, supporting characters emphasized over MCs, just plain horrible graphics, and more)
2. This is the first book cover treatment I’d ever received for my debut:
Pros: That background! Those birds!
Cons: I wasn’t feeling that font, and not liking the font made the cover look off somehow – like it’s getting there, but there’s something completely incomplete about the whole look. I was told at this stage that they weren’t satisfied with how my name was featured in, as well.
I’d told my editor and agent at this point that something felt odd about the cover. I was hoping for more subtlety, and I was very thrilled that the designer didn’t choose to go for the girl-looking-mysterious-or-beautifully-dead route, because there were a lot of those kinds of covers already out on the market that didn’t actually have dead girls in their novels, and I was worried it would no longer stand out. (Also: my protagonist is dead, but not beautifully so.)
3. The second treatment for my cover:
As soon as I saw that beautiful typeface, I knew this was it. See what a difference the right kind of font makes? I was thrilled, my agent was thrilled, and everyone was thrilled that we were thrilled.
4. The final cover:
Some very minor tweaks, and here’s the result!
I think I’ve been lucky in a lot of ways. A lot of other authors have to go through a lot more revisions with their respective publishers before settling on the one they really like, but I was rather pleased with mine!