Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cover Story

Last week, I saw the proposed cover art for The Far Empty, and I was absolutely blown away by it...

...even though it was nothing like what I expected.

I’m not sure there’s any one thing that debut authors worry about more than their cover. Honestly, it’s probably the thing we’ve dreamed about the most often – we always seem able to picture that beautiful cover, face-out on bookshelves, even if we have no idea what the words are behind it. We host cover reveal parties and sketch them in the margins of the books we are writing and haven't even completed, and haunt bookstores to compare our covers with bestsellers.

We firmly believe a book will be judged by its cover, even if we also hope that’s not strictly true.

So although I had all sorts of ideas of my own for the cover I was designing “in my head” for The Far Empty, the art director at Putnam was also spending considerable time with the book - reading and making notes about the parts of the story and imagery that spoke to him - and he came up with something that is unique and striking and memorable and 180 degrees from any of my mental pictures. I can tell he and my editor are excited about it , and I know the illustrator they’ve commissioned is eager to turn the sample sketch I saw into the final piece. The care and attention they’ve given to this cover concept has left me feeling like a best-selling author, even though I haven’t sold a single copy yet.

And, more importantly, I’m glad all those ideas I had will never see the light of day. I’ve no eye for art or design or anything, so my concepts were little more than recreations of already successful books I’d liked. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, and while they may have been serviceable (even polished and professional in their own ways), there was also nothing original about any of my “covers” either.

I’ve spoken to indie or self-published authors who cite the control they have over every aspect of their book’s creation, including the cover, as a significant strength of that publishing path, and I can absolutely see the allure of that.  However, in my sample size of one - me - I’ve thoroughly enjoyed other people’s input and the entire collaborative process that is gone into pulling the final novel together.

It’s like watching my book come alive in ways I never imagined.

So keep an eye out, I’ll be having “my” cover reveal soon…

As always, keep writing - JTS

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