March 19th, 2007

How book cover designers think

A friend recently heard from the cover artist for his book.
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He says, "What struck me, immediately, was how exactingly it confirmed every suspicion I had about how things work in the graphic design departments of big publishing houses.

"Basically, the graphic designer gets a paragraph about the book from the book's editor. (Not the manuscript of the book, or an excerpt from the book, or even a personal phone call or visit by the editor, but a paragraph of text written by the editor) The graphic designer then comes up with a few rough designs for the book without any other direction.

"These designs are then taken to "the publisher." "The publisher" hasn't read the book either.

"So "the publisher" chose one of the covers that the cover artist designed. The artist was not particularly pleased with his work, and the author was screaming bloody murder about it, but the publisher had spoken. The reasons for the publisher's choice had nothing to do with the book and everything to do with money. A sci-fi/fantasy buyer at the biggest national chain bookstore had shown some interest in the book, and he/she was more likely to order a large quantity of the books if it had a sci-fi looking cover. (At least this was the perception, heaven knows whether the sci-fi buyer really cared.)"
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April here again. Full disclosure: I find this kind of scary, but I have a feeling this is how things work more often than not.



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Jennifer Lauck is from Portland. Her first book, billed as an autobiography, did phenomenally well. Then came her second book, which I think did pretty well.

Jennie Shortridge was living in Portland when her publisher showed her a cover for Riding with the Queen that looked a lot pretty much exactly like the art on Still Waters. I think the tree was gone, and the woman had different color hair. However - and this is a big deal - in the very first part of the book, the character makes a big point about she is the kind of woman who has never owned a suitcase. They went around and around about it. They finally put in a different main character with the same road.

Maybe they just wanted to save money?


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