I’ve drafted, written, edited and edited again and the manuscript is now sitting in the publisher’s office being looked over and edited again. I’ve expressed my (perhaps unfounded) concern over this in a previous post. But now I move onto something that has taken a clear precedence in my concerns - the book’s cover.
The old saying goes ‘You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.’ This just isn’t true. Everyone does, and that’s because certain book designs explain the type of book the person is holding. In the unresearched period of history I just created in my head books were leather-bound and had nothing other than the title and the author on the front cover in plain text. It was hard to judge a book by its cover as it looked the same as the rest. Now, though, the variety of designs used on book covers shows us what kind of book is inside. A crime novel will be dark and maybe show a sillohuette running into the distance. A chick flick will have a swirly, red, hand-written title, maybe with a cartoon image of a handbag. What does a book about a man who accidentally starts a cult have on it? Perhaps haphazard font and a captivating, swirly image in the background? Yeah, alright.
I put posters up around my University building to try and find someone to design the cover. The reason I’m asking people is because I was told by my publisher’s that they intended to design the cover in-house. I have no idea what their design credentials are (they could be fantastic) but I decided I wanted to find a cover that I felt suited the book. The fear of a rubbish cover was consuming me. And the reason I put the word out in my University building - ‘The Atrium’ that’s part of the University of Glamorgan - is because it’s full of people studying artistic degrees like graphic design and animation, I felt it was the perfect place to find someone, and I was right. I had a few responses to my posters, but one stood out because a cover was provided after one day and one email exchange, and it was exactly the sort of thing I was looking for. When Stephanie Seed sent back her design proposal, I was looking, for the first time, at my book title on a decent book cover. It somehow made it more real that this was actually happening and I was going to have a book that I could look at and know that I wrote and got published. After putting up a few posters, suddenly my concern over the cover being rubbish has faded away.
There’s no room for complacency, though, and as we work towards the finished design I will then have to start figuring out how I’m going to pitch the finished product to the publishers, who may have other ideas for my book. The buck stops with them, it’s in the contract, but they seem willing to listen to my input. Having a decent cover, though, is something that I think is relatively crucial. Not because of marketing, or sales (which, in general, is why people are concerned with design), but because I want to be able to pick up my book and be pleased with what I’m holding.
As the design develops I shall perhaps put up some updates and draft versions. In the mean time, check out Stephanie Seed's portfolio to see the kind of stuff she produces and is kindly producing for me.