My husband, Adam, decided that he's going to add ebook cover design to his growing list of art/business/design ventures in the making. After throwing some ideas around, I started to take him seriously and began to see how realistically viable this would be for us both to take on as a team. We both work jobs as web/print designers, and with our combined skills and areas of interest I think we could totally do this thing.
We are currently in the process of pinning down a name for this emerging ebook cover business and have begun to put together some sample cover designs. Thankfully, there's no shortage of public domain stories ripe for the picking. Adam's been pulling references and inspiration and knocking out the first round of designs. I'm then taking his designs/ideas and bringing them to finish. Our goal is to get at least eight covers mocked up and then build a simple SEO website that can start catching client leads. Over just a couple nights we've created six sample eye-catching ebook covers that I think rather successfully scale down so that they can be read easily on websites like Amazon or in the App Store.
I've requested to be the company Art Director and Adam the designer. He's definitely an idea man and I love tweaking and refining other people's hard work. Haha.
...but seriously. I love it.
The six on the left are the finished versions, those on the right are Adam's first passes.
As a child, I was completely captivated by the John Sayles film The Secret of Roan Inish. It was somber, moody, atmospheric, mysterious, moving, charming, and oh-so-very IRISH. It was beautiful in both its mythic fable-like story, as well as its muted, lustrous cinematography. Essentially everything I loved in a story then and even more so now. As an adult I discovered the book upon which it is based, the Scotland-set The Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry. The story concerns a young girl, Fiona McConville, who returns from the city to live with her grandparents on the coast of Scotland. All of her family had been living on the nearby small rocky island of Ron Mor for generations until they all evacuated four years prior. On that day, Fiona's baby brother Jamie was tragically swept out to sea in his little cradle boat, never to be seen again. But Fiona believes her brother may still be on Ron Mor, and begins to suspect he's been protected by the seals that inhabit the island.
Originally published in 1950s, it has been out of print for a long time, apart from the straggling copies of the 1993 movie-tie in book, which is what I have. But this version of the book has always bothered me. It's the exact same text as the original Ron Mor, but just its title on the cover has been changed to Roan Inish. The original book also featured lovely black and white line illustrations by the author herself. For such a magical story, my lackluster printed copy simply won't do.
For several years (ever since I tracked down my own copy of the book via Ebay), I've wanted to revisit the story with my own images. 20 years after seeing the film, I'm finally doing it! I've begun here with the cover and would like to continue on with creating black and white chapter illustrations as well. I plan to play direct homage to Rosalie Fry's original vignettes in addition to adding some of my own imaginings.
But for now, here is the cover in process form.1. Quick color/compositional sketch.2. Black and white drawing.
3. Refining color sketch to align with drawing.
4. Black and white rendering.5. Color version. 6. Final color version, adjusting placement of elements and position of figures.
7. Overlay of book jacket elements.
I love looking at book covers, especially when they change from hardcover to paperback. I think the cover evolution and marketing directions books take is interesting! Here are some recent changes I've seen:
-Simple, yet it gets the story across-I like it
-This one is much more simple, but it works and I really like it. I also think it adds an element of humor the first cover is missing.
-I don't know what I think of this cover. I like how she's coming through the book and entering the story, which gets the plot across,but it just looks a bit odd at the same time-not sure why.
-I really like the look of this cover, but at the same time it feels a bit historical.
-It's simple, but I like it. I also like how the girl doesn't look too nerdy.
-This one changes the look of the book to a romance Sarah Dessen-esque cover. I like the cover, just not for this book.
-I thought I had talked about this one before, I guess not. I love this cover-so cute, I love the text and the Eiffel Tower in the back.
-This is an OK cover, but it feels like the book is trying to become "new adult" and being marketed to adults more than teens. It also looks a bit more serious to me than the original cover.
-I really like this cover-simple and just the right amount of scary. It flies off my library shelves.
-I really like the paperback version too. It's a different take than the hardcover, but I think it still manages to get across the mystery of the book. I do think the cover model looks a bit like Kristen Stewart in that photo and I wonder if that will turn off readers thinking this is a Twilight readalike.
I really like the other two covers in the series:
What covers do you like and dislike?
A few years ago the children’s book world learned a new word, or a new use for an old one: whitewashing
Whitewashing is the term used for the practice of putting a white model on the jacket of a book about a black or other non-white protagonist, in the presumed hope of not "putting off" potential white readers. As one striking and well-known instance, let’s take the case of Justine Larbalestier’s 2009 novel, Liar
. The heroine of Liar
, Micah, is biracial, and described as having “nappy” hair; but advance copies of Bloomsbury’s US edition showed her as a white girl with straight hair – a move that drew such loud protests (including from Larbalestier herself) that the publisher hastily replaced the cover with one more representative of the book’s contents, as this before-and-after picture shows:
The case of Liar
is far from isolated, and you can read a recent article about the whitewashing phenomenon, with many more examples, here
. The problem isn’t confined to race, however. More recently, an edition of Anne of Green Gables
drew the wrath of many by its portrayal of the red-headed Anne Shirley (whose hair colour is a major plot point) as blonde:
Why did the publishers of this edition give us a blonde Anne? Was it because they believe blondes sell more books than redheads? Was it a fiendish attempt to gain notoriety on the internet, on the principle that there’s no such thing as bad publicity? Possibly, possibly, although in this case another factor may have been lack of a design budget and ignorance of the book’s content: the offending edition of Anne
was self-published, and self-publishing (for all its virtues) has in some cases made badly-designed jackets a new art form
So far we’ve had whitewashing and blonde-washing – but there are other wash cycles out there, and not only for jackets. There’s straight-washing, for example. This goes back a long way: as early as 1640 John Benson published an edition of Shakespeare's sonnets with the pronouns changed to make them look as if they were all addressed to a woman. A mere 371 years later, Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown’s YA novel Stranger
was taken on by a major agent, but only on condition that one of the main characters, who happened to be gay, was made straight
. In a book market where LGBT people, like black people, are woefully underrepresented
compared to their numbers in the real world, especially as protagonists or major characters, this attempt to suppress their appearance was seen by many as pernicious – for society as a whole, but particularly for young LGBT readers.
Being behind the times, I discovered only recently the extent to which some popular Japanese anime cartoons have been straight-washed in the process of being adapted for American viewers. In Japanese manga (comics) and the children’s anime that are based on them, romantic feelings between people of the same sex are frequent, and not generally seen as problematic. For example, in the manga Cardcaptor Sakuraand in the anime of the same name, ten-year-old Sakura (female) has a crush on her older brother’s friend, Yukito (male) – but so does her classmate, a boy named Li. In addition, Sakura’s own female best friend, Tomoyo, is in love with her. When the anime was adapted for American television under the name Cardcaptors, Sakura’s crush on Yukito (now called Julian) was preserved, but Li’s was erased; and Tomoyo’s (now Madison’s) love for Sakura was transformed into non-romantic friendship. So integral were both these threads to the original story that the American censors had to go to great lengths to achieve the change, deleting many scenes in the process (and filling the gaps with irrelevant flashbacks to previous episodes), while making innumerable smaller cuts and changes to dialogue. Even so, Cardcaptors still retains traces of what has been ripped from it, in the form of inexplicable blushes and plot lines that no longer quite make sense. These were a sacrifice apparently seen as worth making on the altar of heteronormativity. Cardcaptor Sakura is not a unique case, either: the adaptors of the anime Sailor Moon went so far as to change the sex of one of the characters (Zoisite) in the English version, so as to render him (now her) acceptably straight.
Are things getting better, or worse? It's hard to say. The story of Sherwood Smith's and Rachel Manija Brown’s rejection provoked understandable outrage, and perhaps as a result appears to have acquired a happy ending
: their book is now after all to be published as written. As for anime, the examples I've cited are over a decade old, and I'm told by people more knowledgeable than I that there haven't been any recent cases of straight-washed English-language versions of Japanese anime. That doesn't mean that same-sex romance has found its way onto English-speaking children's cartoons, however. If we wish to increase the representation of LGBT characters, perhaps that's not such a huge amount of progress, after all? Meanwhile, cases of whitewashing (and its variants) continue to crop up regularly; girls are featured less prominently on book jackets than boys (even when equally prominent in the story); fat characters are portrayed as thin - and so on, and on. Editorial and marketing decisions will always tend to drift in the direction of safety and perceived "norms". If that's to change, it's up to writers and readers to pull hard in the other direction.
Sometimes paperback covers can be for the better and sometimes they can be for the worse. Here are some recent cover changes I've seen:
First up, Code Name Verity, a book that is near and dear to my heart.
That shiny sticker looks so pretty, doesn't it? I like this cover, but the paperback is really growing on me:
I'll admit at first I hated it, but the more I look at it the more I like it. There's just something so beautiful about this cover.
Here's another one I really like. The hardcover for The Catastrophic History of You and Me makes sense with the book, but I just don't like the way it looks as a whole and I'm not sure why. I think it's the fact that I don't like the dress.
But I really like this paperback cover, even if it does look a bit like other covers. It's just simple and beautiful
Here's one I really dislike. I love the hardcover for Keeping the Castle:
But the paperback looks so childish!
It really looks more like a middle grade novel now and the main character looks so young and a bit Disney character-ish. It's a cute cover, just not for this book.
Here's another cover change I'm not a huge fan of. I really liked the hardcover for Throne of Glass:
It looks like it's got a cool kick butt girl on the cover.
And now here's the new paperback:
I guess she still looks pretty kick butt, but she looks like a cross between Lara Croft and an anime character. I almost expect the content inside to be a graphic novel.
Ok, let's talk about the evolution of a cover over the years. What My Mother Doesn't Know was one of the first books I read when I started reading YA lit and it remains one of my favorites. Here's the original cover from 2001 that I checked out from my library:
The cover got a makeover in 2003 in paperback:
And here's the latest cover makeover for 2013:
I have to say I like all three covers, even if the last one does look a bit like all the other contemporary YA covers that are coming out right now. I do like how it looks with the sequel, What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know:
Now for a book that's new but that has still undergone a complete makeover. Here's the original hardcover for Gilt:
Now, the paperback that was supposed to be:
But that paperback isn't happening and it's had yet another makeover. Here's the newest paperback cover:Author Katherine Longshore has a great blog post about the evolution of her covers and why they changed.
I think all three covers are great and really like the new paperback look.
So what do you think of these cover changes? Good or bad?
While I was at ALA, I heard rumors of a horrible Anne of Green Gables covers that was making Anne fans angry all over the internet. And then I found it:Anne of Green Gables
is one of my favorite books and this cover might be the worst cover in the world. Everyone knows that Anne is a redhead NOT blonde. And what's with the "Hey, Gilbert, I'm suddenly sexy farm girl Anne" look that she has going on? Plus it's way too modern looking! I'm sorry-Anne would not wear that shirt. She wants puff sleeves!!
Anyway, as I was fuming over the horrible Anne cover, it got me thinking about recovering classics. Some work well and others not so much. Matilda
is getting an anniversary reissue this year and I have to say I like the new cover:
It reminds me of A Wrinkle In Time anniversary reissue which I also liked:
Another anniversary occuring this year is Amelia Bedelia. While she doesn't have a cover reissue exactly, she has a spinoff chapter book series that takes a new approach to the covers:
It's cute and updated but still feels like the original Amelia I grew up with.
Another childhood favorite of mine, Pippi Longstocking, is getting a new cover this year:
I'm not sure what I think of this one. It's cute but almost seems a bit too understated for Pippi.
What do you think of these reissues? Any other classic recoverings you've seen recently? Are they good or bad?
Thanks to all the children who participated in Ammi-Joan Paquette’s THE TIPTOE GUIDE cover contest! We asked you to draw the cover of what you imagined could be the next book in the series, and we received some very creative entries. Since they were all so good, we randomly selected a winner. So…
Congratulations, Annika, age 9!
Annika wins a signed copy of THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING MERMAIDS! And who knows, maybe sometime soon we’ll see a TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING PEGASUSES! (PEGASI? PEGASU? Just what *is* the plural?!)
And here are the runners up…
Grace, age 9!
Katie, age 5! (With my personal favorite, MONSTERS!)
Lili, age 4! (Wow, nice lettering, Lili!)
And Julie’s daughter* with a very colorful entry! *name and age to come
Thanks to all the kids who entered! It’s so much fun to see your creativity at work.
I promise to have more cover contests soon, including one for my upcoming book, THE MONSTORE!
I love looking at cover changes from hardcover to paperback. Some are good, some can be bad, and they're always interesting!
I'm highlighting cover changes that have happened mid-series this time around. I hate whey they change covers mid-series both as a librarian and a reader. It can be very frustrating as a librarian because now our first book in the series doesn't match what the teens are seeing online or in stores, so they don't think we have the book. And the cover that pulls up in the catalog now is different from what we actually have on our shelves. When a patron comes into the library asking for one cover and you show them a different one, it can be very frustrating-especially when working with kids and teens who only want the book they saw.
As a I reader, I just don't like when my books don't match.
So let's take a look at some series changes:
This is the hardcover for Black Hole Sun. I actually kind of like this cover-it's simple, but I think I can tell this is a science fiction book.
And here's the paperback. I like and I don't like it at the same time. I like that this one looks more action packed than the hardcover and I like that it really looks like a science fiction book-I know from the cover what to expect from the book. I do think the guy is brooding a little too much, although I guess I can see him as Durango-he can be somewhat moody.
This cover is OK, but it really doesn't say anything about secret societies or justice. It looks a bit like a generic mystery novel instead. So I can understand why the covers changed before book two was released.
But as much as I like this cover in general, I don't like it for this series. This looks like a 1940s noir murder mystery, which the book is not. I think it's even more misleading than the original cover.
5 Comments on Judge a Book By It's Cover, last added: 4/23/2012
Is there a magic formula to creating a book cover—one that readers will pull off the shelf?
In the past authors paid little attention to the subject of book covers, that was the domain of the publishing house. With the increase in self-publishing, however, it helps to have at least a basic understanding of what makes a knock-out cover. Just what is it that will make one book cover stand out from the rest? What entices a reader to explore the inside of that eBook?
The text is important; a title to grab their attention and a synopsis to pull them in. But text alone won’t do it—how many times have you reached for a plain book with no pictures and only text on the cover?
discussed the text side of book covers in a previous post
. Today we’ll take a look at cover images with Steena Holmes. You might know Steena as a bestselling author, but did you know she is also a cover artist? Let’s pose a few questions to her!WOW:
Hi Steena, we’re interested in learning the magic of cover art—what makes a reader pull a book off the shelf.
When we talk about the images chosen for a book cover, what are we looking for? Is it to portray the story or summon an emotional response? Steena:
For me it would be an emotional response. WOW:
Are there guidelines for what images work best? What are people drawn to—images of other people, scenic shots…? Steena:
I think this might depend on the skill of the designer and what they prefer, as well as what you want on the cover. Often you’ll see a scenic shot behind a person, etc. WOW:
So, basically we are looking for a mood.
If an author has an image, a family picture for a memoir or perhaps the author’s own illustration, can a cover artist work with that?Steena:
Absolutely ;) WOW:
I remember hearing an advertising rule about including a bit of red to draw attention. Are there any similar rules or statistics for the color templates on book covers? Steena:
That would be the same rule where if you look at design magazines--for kitchens, you used to always see red apples in a bowl somewhere in the shot. Now you see pomegranates. Or bold yellow lemons, bright green apples...I love having red in a cover--I have red balloons on my cover for Finding Emma
...but I think bottom line is as long as there is a bold image, something that really pops out to a reader, that is what matters.
I love the cover for Finding Emma
. Another one of my favorites is What If
by Kelly Rae (Paperback), also one of your creations—the red scarf flying in the breeze
Did you fall in love with the Narnia books as a child?
A rare first edition of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is up for auction later this week. It is expected to make around £12,000 because it is signed with love from Jack Lewis
- a name that the great man only used with his family and small circle of close friends. The owner was the son of a very good friend and he was given it Christmas 1950.
One thing's for sure and that is book covers have improved in the last 60 years. This one manages to make riding on the back of a lion look dull - turning Aslan into a rather large pet
I don't think the cartoon version is much better. Aslan just looks cross.
This Walt Disney DVD cover is an improvement - at least it's clear that this is not an out of Africa story.
While the modern paperback is frosty with venom, making it clear that it is tale about a world where it always winter and never Christmas.
I'm more envious of the other gift bestowed on the young Nicholas Hardie - something that can't be auctioned. The Silver Chair was dedicated to him as a child and I think it is my favourite Narnia books with the unforgettable Puddleglum as the star. It is probably nostalgia that makes me like this cover - there's not a marshwiggle in sight, or hungry giants, or a black knight. Apart from that it's just fine.
By: Julie Daines,
By Julie Daines
We've all heard this saying a million times: You can't judge a book by its cover.
But I really wish you could.
Some of my favorite books in the world have unattractive covers. Granted that's just my opinion and someone else probably loves the covers I hate.
How many times have you recommended a book and added the caveat to ignore the hideous cover.
Cover styles come and go. But lately, there has been a huge surge of nearly identical covers--especially in Young Adult fiction. Just click on this link and check out the covers of the 2012 YA debut novels.
Luckily, I think/hope the random girl in a flowing prom dress (which usually has NOTHING to do with the story) is going out. Now we're seeing the close-up of a face with a haunted look.
We all know that as authors we have no say (or in come cases very little say) about our covers. Each book is marketed to a specific audience, so if a prom-dress is what's selling, then I guess it makes sense for every book to have one.
What do I prefer? I like covers that set the tone of the story, that give us a hint of what to expect. I like covers that leave the looks of the main characters up to my imagination. The character in my mind never matches the one on the cover.
What covers do you love? What covers do you hate?
If you are already published, what was your experience regarding the cover of your book?
Today, I am the guest of Karen S. Elliott, The Word Shark, at her blog for writers and readers. I discuss my path to becoming a book designer and illustrator and list out the steps involved in creating illustrations for an author and/or publisher.
Here is the link:
Have a great weekend,
Working like mad, really enjoying every moment. Finally settling into the new routine with Henry at school. In fact it's proving to be a lot easier than over the Summer where I could get interrupted any moment. I think the pencils will all be done within 3 weeks, hoping less!
I'm covering for Karen King, who should have been writing this post. Instead, she's getting married. That seems like a much more important thing to do. Congratulations Karen!
So this is a cover version of a blog post. To make sure I've got everything covered, I'm going to talk about covers.
It's a little-known fact, but every now and then people ask me to design a book cover for them. Here is the most recent one:
Most of them are books for grown-ups. But earlier this year I did one for young adult girls. Here it is:
I really enjoy designing book covers. Surfing Through Minefields
is a realistic story (no vampires) about a young girl who moves to an old coalmining area and gets into a spot of trouble.
You could say that there's trouble at t'pit, but I won't because that's corny.
Bel was very specific about what she wanted. There had to be a dog, the girl, and a coal mine.
Oh yes, and she had to have a skateboard, hence the title.
How do you aim a book at a particular kind of reader? How do you attract their attention and make them pick it up?
My approach was to think: if I put a really cool girl on the cover, then it looks like the book is aimed at that type of reader.
I made her sassy and confident, too: she's got attitude. Just, I hope, like a lot of girls aged 11 to 13 like to think they are.
Bel said she was really pleased with it anyway.
How did I do it? Sorry, that's a trade secret. I'll have to keep it under cover.
There was a print version and an e-book version. For the print version I had to design the spine and the back cover as well.
I also copy edited the blurb for her and the publisher.
Doing something like this makes me think a lot more about writing the content of my own books, and how they are aimed at particular kinds of readers.
But I wouldn't design covers for my own books. It's hard enough writing them.
I love looking at covers! And I think we all judge books by their covers to some extent. Here are some recent hardcover to paperback changes:
-I gotta got with the paperback on this one. It just looks more appealing to me.
-I think both covers are appealing. I think the paperback has more action and the hardcover is more subtle, but both fit the book well. I think I still like the hardcover better.
-The paperback looks like a comic book. It's still really cool and I think this cover change is interesting because I think each cover markets to a different group. The first looks like fun and fluffy and the second looks more serious. I'm not sure which one I like more.
-I love both of these covers, but I think I like the darkness of the paperback. I do think the hardcover has more of a Sleeping Beauty feel which matches the book.
So which ones do you like or dislike?
I've got more hardcover to paperback changes! What do you think of these?
-I think both of these are well done and reflect the bleakness of the landscape in the story.
-As fun as I think the paperback is, I think it's marketing more to an adult audience. It looks like your typical adult mystery bestseller. The hardcover looks like lots of fun and like the book will have lots of action (which it does)
-I'm not a big fan of either covers, but I gotta got with the hardcover because it's creepier.
-I like the hardcover on this one. The paperback is too simple and I think the hardcover has a cool computer/techy/time travel feel to it which matches the book.
-The paperback for this one changes the entire look of the book! Now it looks like a steamy romance novel instead of historical fiction about Catherine Howard. I'm sure the paperback will get people to pick it up, and there is a lot of intrigue in the book, I'm just not sure it matches the steaminess on the cover.
|Laurent listening to the voices in his head. They are talking about monkeys. In fact, the voices ARE of monkey origin.|
|What Laurent looks like when the monkey voices tell him to do a cover titled in Comic Sans.|
Lovely lovely Laurent Linn says the cover of your book can make or break it. And the important voices that decide what a final cover will look like are:
- The author
- The editor
- The sales and marketing team (they are your friends!)
- The publisher
- The art director, in this case, Laurent Linn
- The voices in Laurent's head
First cover evolution story:
Lottie Paris Lives Here
by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Scott Fisher, publishing in a few months.
One of Scott's first cover sketches:
Not only is this cover for the first book, but for establishing what may potentially be the branding of an entire series. The character is important, but so is the setting and some of the props and the question was whether to have all of these non-main character elements on the front cover, or wrapping around from the spine onto the back, or anywhere near the cover. This sketch has elements of props and Lottie's house, and the VOICES decide it should just be Lottie interacting with the type. So Laurent asks Scott for something different.
One of Scott's character-focused cover sketches with type interaction:
Laurent likes this, but rather than explain the tweaks he wants, he can just mock something up in Photoshop and show Scott. Laurent asks Scott to do tons of posture and pose sketches of Lottie. Scott did! And the mock-up below is based on pose #18 from a group of 25 and Laurent's Photoshop mock-up:
By: Patti L Brown,
Carol sent me this adorable cover and suggested I do a spread on Pinocchio jackets. As a result, this week's JacketKnack post will be eleven and a half pages long because there are soooooo many Pinocchio covers to choose from. I found dozens upon dozens of renditions of this little wooden boy. Without further ado, here's Pinocchio...
...with Robin Williams as Gepetto!
(Blue Ribbon Books, c1932)
(Sterling Publishing,February 2008)
...as a pop-up book...
...in the UK...
(Penguin UK, 2011)
and ... en francais!
By: Kay Fraser, Art Director
Blog: Stone Arch Books
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During every book production season, there are moments you will always remember and treasure until the end of time. Certain "Je n'est-ce pas" that make you hold your breath, like the moment before sending a cover to print, or even the day before you start designing a book you love. The excitement builds up and makes you push the project to a higher level. You are guided by so much conviction and truth that it gives you chills to work on it. Yes, I know it sounds funny, but I know people out there understand what I'm talking about.
This season, I had these sort of experiences while designing Fairieground, a series co-written by Beth and me. I've never had to design anything I've written before. This was a first, and it was definitely a challenge. It took many drafts, many hours of research, and many trials and errors. Yet, Beth and I are very proud with the outcome. It was a joint effort. Odessa Sawyer, our super talented illustrator, influenced the design and the book narratives with her gorgeous realistic illustrations.
The books come out this spring, but here is a little sneak peak of what the fairies in the Willow Forest are hiding from all of us. Enjoy!