I had a meeting a couple of weeks ago with Evie Coates, who is designing the cover, to talk about what direction we wanted to go with the look of the book. I wanted to be sure I was able to communicate clearly what kind of design style I envision for The Fiddler’s Gun so I had some preparation to do. Before the meeting I took a walk through a couple of bookstores looking solely at cover art and noting which ones made me want to pick up a book without regard for who wrote it, what genre it was, or anything else other than ‘the look’. Here are a few covers that really jumped out at me:
Later on, when I sat down with Evie, I pulled out the computer and let her have a look at these and quite a few others. To my great relief, she had nearly the same vision for the book and we were both drawn to one or two designs in particular. I think it’s safe to say our favorites were Thirteenth Child, Crippen, and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
So what is it about a cover that draws me, or any reader, to a certain book and whispers “read me”. After studying the examples above I notice a few trends, such as a certain antiquated look in the colors and fonts, or the use of a border to frame the book like a picture. I also notice that I generally like covers that are rather more symbolic than representative of a particular scene or character.
It’s easier, of course, to convey what I dislike in a cover. I don’t like the author’s name in giant gold-foil lettering. I don’t like anyone displayed prominently in a heroic pose. I also don’t like anything too loud or abstract (the cover for Dean R. Kootz’s Intensity made me wish I was blind).
Evie now has the unenviable task of putting all these likes and dislikes together, stirring them around in her head, adding in a dash of imagery, a pinch metaphor perhaps, and then withdrawing something unique and compelling from the fire when it’s done cooking. Luckily, Evie’s a great chef and I’m sure she’ll cook up something wonderful.
So what books do you have on your shelves that have covers so effective that you can’t resist them?