When I finally neared the end of editing and rewriting Anthem’s Fall, it was time to contact a cover designer. Covers are unbelievably important to novels—especially debut novels. When you think about products that generally cost under $10, the novel is an outlier. Unlike most other products in that price range, (a sandwich, a pint of beer, a taxi ride) a book is a product that a given reader will spend hours upon hours engrossed in. Among $10 (or in the case of e-books, $3) purchases, a novel represents a gigantic commitment of time. And when searching for a new novel and weighing out the awareness of that commitment, what does a reader look at?
A blurb, some reviews, the first few sample pages, and the cover. The cover is the only part of the book “package” that isn’t words. Consequently, the cover is a unique opportunity to make a promise to the reader of what lies within the pages.
Think I’m overvaluing the art of the cover design? Check this out…
Yeah they’re movie posters, but the idea behind them is the same. What can you infer from these assemblages of movie posters? There are rules! Think about it…you can say in the blink of an eye what each of these three poster-schemes represents: thriller, art house, and superhero.
There are rules that movies with multi-million dollar marketing budgets still adhere to. And there are rules with book covers too. Those rules culminate to…target your audience!
Anyways. Back to my own process.
I didn’t know what to expect as I began my own cover creation, and it was hard to envision what a final product would look like. I knew I had to target my audience, but at the time I couldn't quite decide who my audience was. After a lot of searching, I got in touch with a designer who had done some covers I liked. I took the plunge and sent him a copy of the whole manuscript, a ten page synopsis, a three page synopsis, a pitch, and some notes. These were the first two drafts we created in succession. It was a starting point, but I ended up going in a completely different direction.