Reading a book by its cover….

Cover2thumbnailAs regular readers of the Story Bazaar will know, I have recently been working with Andrew Brown of  Design for Writers on a new cover for ‘Reconquista‘.  In the past I have run competitions to find a cover designer, using the 99designs web-site.  This was very successful with ‘The Village’.  I ran a similar competition for ‘Reconquista’ ( when it was called ‘On the Frontier’ ) and I liked the cover which won, but, as I explained in an earlier post, I realised that it wouldn’t do for the target market. The cover needed to be more exciting and shout ‘Read me!’ to its young audience.

In addition, the book itself had changed since the competition was run. So I have been working with Andrew to produce a new cover.

How did I find Design for Writers? My editor suggested a number of design companies, which she, or her other clients, had done business with, who Coverthumbnail6had expertise in this type of market. I looked at the web-sites and Facebook pages of all of them, checked availability and pricing and chose Design for Writers.

At the outset I had to provide Andrew with quite a lot of information about the book, the setting, the characters, the period and so on, as one would expect. He also asked me to go on to Amazon and find examples of book covers which I thought effective or that I liked and some examples of covers which I didn’t like or thought ineffective.  This was an interesting exercise.  I found that I liked a strong central image – a tower, a ship, a pair of hands; and dramatic light – a silhouette set against a rising moon/sun, strong chiaroscuro. So, for example, The Way of the Sword, or The Graveyard of the Hesperides. I also like highly patterned covers, like The Shadow in the North and other Phillip Pullman books.

Andrew created a series of draft images, all very much targeted to the Young Adult market. I had to choose one for further development, which would eventually become the print, ‘e’ and audio-book cover. The cover I chose had an antique sword as a central Coverthumbnail3image, on a patterned ‘moorish’ background with an elaborate pattern across the bottom.  The sword, as a drawn pen and ink image, would also feature inside the book. Then he sent me several versions of this, using different fonts and arrangements, some of which you can see in this post. Readability was important given that the title is not an English word – when I showed one version (not included here) to a couple of young adults, neither of them found the title easy to read.

There were debates – should we have the series title and number on the front? Ideally, yes.  But where?  Along the bottom and it broke up the pattern. Just above the title and we no longer had a ‘cross’ made by sword and title.  In the end I decided that this would be on the back.  I might revisit that in future if the book and subsequent books are a success.

Andrew and I then turned to the rear cover and I revised my ‘blurb’ yet again, making it tighter, but with a regular tempo. It was important to have it set out well on the page and, in fact, the words themselves make another pattern.

Thinking ahead was also important when considering a theme, to which we could return when publishing the later books.  The single, central image ofCoverthumbnail8 a weapon or other object, set upon a highly patterned background, would work for the later books. Indeed, I am already thinking of having a scimitar on the cover of the next one.

You can see the one I preferred at the bottom of this post.  This is the cover I have finally decided upon. The lettering is ‘period’ but easy to read. The title is clear and the central image dramatic.  Both make a further image.  I hope my readers will find it as attractive.

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