Book covers are an important but often overlooked marketing aspect. Important because it’s the first thing a reader sees; pulling it from a library or bookstore shelf. Or seeing the cover on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
The cover and title must grab the reader’s attention and at the same time express to the reader, the very essence of the story.
I did not know the various ‘rules’ that went into a book cover creation. There are actual colours, designs, and fonts specific for each genre of a book. I had only a vague idea in my mind, so visited various bookstores to study other book covers. Although set in WWII, it is a multi-genre book and I felt free to experiment. The book has a rather long title so whatever I thought of, would have to work around that title.
I finally came up with the idea of a young woman in silhouette, facing the sea and a merchant ship in the distance (the ship Le Flâneur, is her home). I wanted her standing with a bicycle and a dog (Rolf).
I gave this idea to my production editor (see below). I’d given very specific instructions on her dress: a full skirt, just below the knees, a cardigan, and hair down past her shoulders. How they managed to do all of this was amazing.
I don’t use the term ‘magical’ frivolously in describing when an author sees their book cover for the first time. It is a mystical experience. Profound, emotional, and yes, magical. For years, an author toils over the blank page, spinning characters from thin air. And to see them in an illustration on the cover of a book—YOUR book, is something you never forget.
I had been working with my production editor on the final stages of the cover and happened to be sitting down for dinner at a small restaurant in the Frankfurt train terminal. Checking my emails before dinner arrived, I noticed one from my editor with a doc attached. I pulled it up and suddenly, there was the cover to my book.
I stared at it. There she was! Katrinka! Le Flâneur! On the cover of a book. MY book. I was ecstatic. I wanted to jump up and down and run to all the tables and show everyone. (I didn’t). 😄 Later I calmed down and studied it more thoroughly. They’d taken away Rolf and the bike, and the ship was a bit small.
I found a stock silhouette of a larger ship, and another of a small dog in an upward-looking pose. Perfect! Then I asked if they could enlarge the ship and add Rolf to the right of the woman, making him no taller than the hem of her skirt. They did. The graphic designer had created an incredible textured design using an ocean theme with pale blues. Amazingly, she’d also managed to get both the long title (the ship goes through one of the letters—VERY inventive!) and my name on the cover as well.
Judges have both disapproved of the cover (not suited to the perceived genre), and given me awards for it, so I guess it evens out. The main thing is, I love it.
Here are a few samples of the metamorphosis!
This is the original idea, poorly drawn in Word, that I sent to the production editor. You have to draw with your mouse! Moon, ship, dog, and girl with bicycle. The space above the moon (Yes. That is a moon) was where the title and my name would go, but that lengthy task was beyond my mouse Word-wobble abilities.
Below is the first draft they produced from my scrawl. The graphic designer worked miracles!! I liked the way the ship went through the lettering and approved of the bike’s removal. But I REALLY wanted Rolf in the picture, and I thought the ship a bit small. A friend said it looked like a snail without its shell! I also asked if the lettering at the top could be darker.
Here is the finished product! The physical cover has raised lettering on the title.
Larger ship, darker lettering, and dear little Rolf.
I still get a thrill looking at it. ❤