I’m finishing my second non-fiction book this month, probably next week. I’ve seen its cover, sent to me in a few iterations. Unless you’re A Very Big Name, you get — in your contract — cover consultation, but not cover approval. Covers matter!
Yet it’s authors who get all the attention, more rarely the designers whose interpretation of what it is we’re really saying, is meant to get you, our desired audience, to reach eagerly for our work. It’s a bitter irony that a book that can take an author many years to complete gets mere seconds to try to grab readers away from all those other books, or TV or radio or a movie or…
Like cans of soft drink on a grocery store shelf, every book cover is competing for buyers’ brief and distracted attention.
If you — like me — care about design, you might enjoy this post, from Elle magazine’s new blog LitLife interview with illustrator Michael Kirkham.
When you’re browsing the bookstore shelves, what kinds of covers do you gravitate to? I circle the illustrated ones. Being in a bookshop is just like being in an art gallery. There are so many different approaches to art, so many different ideas. I like quite blocky, maybe a bit retro book designs, but a good design could look like anything. And I won’t turn my nose at a good bit of photography.
What illustrators inspire you? I think that pictures can tell stories, so artists like David Hockney are a big inspiration. His etchings of Brothers Grimm fairytales really got me interested in illustration, because I saw that pictures could tell stories in a completely different way than words. That’s why book jackets have pictures on them—they tell a story and then the words inside continue telling that story.
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