Monday, October 6, 2008

You Can't Go Wrong With Dripping Letters

Today's episode of No, Seriously. Just Try It. is brought to you by The Mighty Thor who reports, "Lately, I am thinking about book covers."*

I worked at a bookstore for five years. I shelved hundreds of books for kids and adults. I know about book jacket marketing and book jacket dynamics. I know that, as The Mighty Thor said just now, "the cover doesn't even have to represent what's in the book; if it's a cool cover, people will buy it." Despite all this, I am still a sucker for a good book cover.

For today, though, I want you to forget that book jackets are marketing devices. I want you to think of your cover as one visual image encapsulating your whole book. It needs to convey the title, the mood you want to set, the one mental picture you want people to have as they start reading, and maybe a snapshot of your setting -- all in one image.

With that in mind, design your book cover. No, seriously. Just try it. I don't care if you can't draw. Lay it out. What goes where? Cut things out of magazines if you have to. Steal pictures of kids off other people's blogs.** What is your title? What font will it be in? What scene is so pivotal it can represent the whole book?

The hope, of course, is that having to answer these questions will crystallize what's important to you in your book. Also, if the cover's done, it'll be just like the book is already written, right?

The Mighty Thor did have some suggestions:
1. Dust sprinkled across the background (think Philip Pullman).
2. Killer zombies killing someone.
3. Cave trolls. In fact, Thor has announced that he's going to write a book and the whole thing is going to be an ode to cave trolls.
4. "You can't go wrong with dripping letters."
5. He will under no circumstances buy your book if the cover features stills of the actors in the film version.

So, with all that in mind, what does your cover look like?

* These are the kind of conversations we have all the time in our house.
** Not really, okay?


C.R. Evers said...

This is such a fun idea!!!!!! I'm giddy just thinking about it.

I'm going to have fun with this one!


Anne Spollen said...

This is a great idea!

I had to make a collage over the weekend to convey the ideas of my second YA (has no cover yet), and after grumbling about dumb presentations writers have to do, I had a great time with it.

Elise Murphy said...

A set of old wooden shelves. Spaced haphazardly and somewhat precariously on the edges are a series of objects: an old Chinese compass, a pair of french opera glasses, a set of old playing cards. A girl with dark hair can only be seen from behind, reaching toward the shelf. The title: The Falcon Society (which, BTW, is NOT the working title). And no, I didn't draw it. But I did collect the real objects and photograph them.

Jacqui said...

Christy, report back, okay?

Anne, I'm curious. What was the collage for?

Elise, I can picture it. Nice.

Amber Lough said...

I shall report back as soon as I've done my homework, Jacqui!

J. Thorp said...

This really is a terrific idea, Jacqui -- and tell Thor I agree that dripping letters RULE! In my case, the image that comes to mind is my dad's 1974 Norton Commando 850 -- a roarin' old British motorcycle. His was black, and "Norton" appeared in gold, in the classic Norton script pictured, but dripping just enough to suggest "monster inside."

Jacqui said...

Amber, do!
Thorp, that is a sweet ride and a sweet cover.

Anne Spollen said...

Oh -- I have a second YA coming out in 2009, and I went to the Collingswood Book Festival. Instead of people asking about it, I made a collage of symbols that represented the book along with its title and (maybe) release date.

C.R. Evers said...

I got it!

The title isn't settled yet, but for this exercise I'm going to go with the title UNSEEN

The cover would be black with an antique silver arm band. In the background would be barely visible human forms. But you really have to be looking to see them, or turning the book in just the right way to catch a glimpse.


oh, and the title would be in dripping letters.


Jacqui said...

Congrats, Anne! I like the idea of using a collage like that.

Christy, I'll bet The Mighty Thor would award you bonus points for the peek-a-boo cover. I like it, and I like the title.