Thursday, April 26, 2007

The evolution of a book's cover...

The publication date for The Silver Compass has been set for April 2008, and already marketing and sales are talking 'cover art', which I love because it makes the book seem more... real.

When it came to The Tin Box and The Penny Tree, marketing, sales, myself, my editor, and my agent often had similar and hugely differing opinions when it came to covers. Everyone aspires for the 'perfect cover', with a tone and style that most accurately reflects the true nature of the story, and in the end, somehow, it all seems to works out.

Anyhow, I've decided to share the evolution of the cover for The Silver Compass with my blog readers from start to finish, a process I think you'll find interesting. Here's the first attempt, which I feel is a good starting point, other than that it's a bit too... white.

Mia and Trish, thanks for your comments, which reminded me that it might help if you have the flap copy to reference what the story is about. Here it is:

Ellis Williams was 17, pregnant, abandoned by her own father, and scared to death when she jumped off a bridge in Barrow, Montana, one rainy Sunday morning. Then along came Louie Johnson, who pulled her from the river and saved her from shame with a beautiful lie. His selfless act changed several lives that day…and led Ellis to rediscover her treasured silver compass that has been her touchstone and inspiration ever since.

That was fifteen years ago. And a lot has changed.

Recently widowed, with a troubled teenage daughter of her own, Ellis returns to Barrow where life still catches her by surprise. First, the town eccentric is none other than Louie Johnson, estranged from his own grown daughter and keeping things hopping down at the nursing home where Ellis gets a job. Then Ellis’s father suddenly reappears after almost two decades and Ellis is torn between bitter resentment and a profound yearning to reconnect with her past. Amidst the confusion of these tangled lives, Ellis begins to learn that forgiveness and second chances often go hand-in-hand, and that life’s most wonderful gifts can come in an instant, pointing us in bright new directions…

Comments anyone? (Lurkers, I'd love to hear from you, too :)


Mia King said...

Holly, I think this is a beautiful cover, and so well done. Without knowing what the story is about, I see tenderness, family, a challenge. Am I close?

Trish Ryan said...

I like the cover, although I agree with you about the white - it took my eye a minute to realize that there was a woman being hugged there - perhaps if they tinted her dress a bit darker?

Thanks for sharing your process - my book comes out in April 2008 too, and we're having the same conversations.

kyla-dale said...

I think it's evocative.
Truly lovely. I agree, though. It needs a splash of color added somehow. :)

Melissa Marsh said...

As a cover copywriter, I LOVE the flap copy for your book!

I agree about it being too white, too. Some more splashes of color would help.

But the story just sounds beautiful. Can't wait to read it!

Holly Kennedy said...

Thanks for the input Kyla-dale :)

And, Melissa, you're a sweetheart to say that. I agree, though.
I think my editor (who wrote the flapy copy) is brilliant. She has a real knack for giving away just enough info to interest the reader and make them want to buy the book.

Holly Kennedy said...

Can you BELIEVE I said "flapy copy" above??! Waaaay too much espresso this morning...

CORRECTION: flap copy

M. G. Tarquini said...

The cover is gorgeous. The story sounds like a good read on a rainy spring evening with a glass of wine at my elbow.

Lindsay Sasseville said...

Hi Holly, my Mom Laura told me to come and check out your site!! I think that the cover is great! you could try sepia tone. My Mom is also trying to write her own book and I think that you will inspire her to keep going with it! Great site, and i commend you for blogging, I find it hard to do, and I can't imagine after a day of writing how you can blog! I blog as well, but its mostly about making cards and scrapbooking.

wordman17 said...

Looks fine to me, but what does a guy from Texas know?

btw, my sister read TIN BOX and loved it. I told her not to buy PENNY TREE, that I'd probably be winning a copy soon. Right? I will, won't i?

ORION said...

I love the title. I love the silver engraving and the font.
(Above the title author!)

Now that people comment on the lightness of the cover I tend to agree.
My very very first impression of the cover is that I LOVED it and I would pick it up at a bookstore and read the back.
I always go with my first impressions.

Anonymous said...

Holly, I really like the cover, although I do agree it is a big too white, needs a little color.

Cindy W.

Wendy Roberts said...

I love the description of this book! The cover is a great start and I'm sure the end result will be spectacular.

Larramie said...

Holly, to be honest, the white caught my attention and drew me in to see those darling small hands. Please don't go too dark.

Robin L. said...

I 5hink it's gorgeous! I love the silver compass with the silver in the dress. :) And I am going to really love the evolution of the cover posts!


Lindsay Sasseville said...

Well i take back my previous comment about the sepia tone. I really do think with that image it needs to be as white as it is. hope that helps!

John Elder Robison said...

It's neat, these other authors visiting the blogs. . .

You know I'm sort of Aspergian, and presumably pretty logical. So I have to ask: As a writer of novels, where do these stories of yours come from?

When you write a novel, is it "what you want life to be?" Is it "what almost happened?" Or is it a world created within your mind?

Sometimes I feel I can only write factual stories. But I know that's not all true. For example, when my son was small, he used to want me to read to him. But I became bored with his books. Same stuff over and over every night. So I took to opening a book, and then just making up a story, on the fly. We had Gorko, the flying lizard, and all his friends.

And I wove his stories back into them. For example, Gorko captured the Berenstain Bears, and put them in the Lizard City zoo.

Was that the start of a novel, if I'd written it down? It's a curious thing . . .

If so, I can understand how you'd (or I'd) do it. Could it be any time? Any place? Could I become , say, a girl, in Poland, in WWII? And then write a book about it? I guess so, if I were imaginative enough.

You have a nice story, and a nice cover. And it's fascinating, getting these insights into how other people think and act.

It's a whole new world for me. All my life, I have sort of stayed under my rock. I was pretty smart, and fairly creative, but out of sight. And now, I am out, blinking in the light.

How did you decide to become a writer? How did you know you should?

Pardon me if my curiousity seems rude, but it's a whole new world all of a sudden, and I want very much to figure things out.

best wishes

Therese said...

Holly, I love that you're going to share this cover-evolution process with everyone!

My two-cents' worth (or maybe one cent, I work cheap) is that the white attracts the eye; the child's hands are compelling; but the image below the title and compass image add too many new elements.

I LIKE all the elements but the sum is a little cluttered, imho.

Fascinating, though, and what a challenge, eh?

I'm told my own cover art is nearly ready for my first peek (!!).

Anyway, I love the story that goes inside that cover!

Anonymous said...

I love the cover. It's as elegant as your writing. True story...for about a year I only read books with white covers because I felt they where more intriguing. The dramatic white visual allows the reader to focus on the title and imagine the vast story possibilities. The painted bird, the white hotel, the white palace were some of them. And all very memorable. And it wasn't just because there was "white" in the title that the designer chose that drama. It's because white has a sense of memory and loss to it. A graphic designer's opinion.

what i also like about the cover IS that you don't immediately see the connection to the mother. And isn't that part of the story?

Very evocative. It will stand out on the shelf too!

spyscribbler said...

I think it's beautiful! But what is that hanky or curtain hanging down at the top, LOL? Covering her face? :-)

Btw, you've been tagged for Thinking Blogger Award!

Holly Kennedy said...

Spyscribbler -- who tagged me for thinking blogger? I'm brain dead tired these days from writing, so doing any extra thinking isn't gonna happen for a few months *lol*

Salart -- I love your insights, girl. So much so that I just sent your comments off to my editor and marketing. Miss yah! Can't believe I was in Chicago with yah last week!

Therese -- I'm with you (as is my agent) on the 'one too many elements' ... If you look at the bottom of the cover, there's a shadow picture of someone on a bridge, and, of course, my main character jumps off a bridge and tries to kill herself, so therefore the relevance, although I think they're trying to cram too much in there.

Holly Kennedy said...

Mindy - I'd be honored to have you read it when it's done, honest :)

Lindsay -- Tell your mom she's a sweetie for sending you my way. I hope my stories don't disappoint

Wordman17 -- Consider yourself cyber-hugged, but no, you didn't win the contest. I drew 3 names this morning and will post them Monday. Sorry, buddy...

ORION -- Who doesn't aspire to be an above the title author, huh? Of course, I aspire for MUCH more than that, but *sigh* I'll have to settle for leaping forward one book at a time :)

Holly Kennedy said...

Cindy W, Wendy -- thanks for your comments. It really does help.

Larramie -- check your blog post this morning. I left you a little surprise comment that will hopefully make yah smile!

Robin -- I hope you do pop by and watch the cover's evolution. I'd love to have you visit.

Holly Kennedy said...

John -- So nice to have you stop by. And, no, not rude at all to ask so many questions. Pat over at ORION (a dear friend) nudged me into blogging last December, so I feel I've come out from under a rock in many ways as well. (ie., I can be very outgoing, but also painfully shy at times, and almost hermit-like with my privacy). Blogging, however, with other authors is such a wonderful thing.

I'll try to answer your questions as best I can:

"As a writer of novels, where do these stories of yours come from?"

*blush* I have so many rolling around my head, and have for all my life, that I can't quite understand the WHERE part myself. They just... arrive, usually fully formed. Maybe part of our brains are reserved for creative 'play' and if so, mine's overloaded with story 'ideas' -- just not enough time to write them all.

"When you write a novel, is it "what you want life to be?" Is it "what almost happened?" Or is it a world created within your mind?"

A world created in my mind, usually influenced by what I'm going thru in my life @ the time or else what my heart would like to have happen if I could steer my own ship, so to speak...

Re: your son and making up stories, too funny! I almost never read to my sons anymore. They're 8 and 10 now but they still cuddle in with me and BEG to make a story up -- sometimes I tell a tear jerker, others I zone in on a topic like bullying at school (for example) if that happened to be something one of them has been struggling with (getting bullied, I mean).

"Could it be any time? Any place? Could I become , say, a girl, in Poland, in WWII? And then write a book about it?"

Re: above -- that what I LOVE about what I do for a living. I can be anyone I want to be, do anything I want to do. Push the envelope. Test the boundaries. Say what I'm afraid to in real life, etc. For example, my 4th novel is told in first person POV from a 28 yr old cognitively challenged man's POV. Now WHERE did that come from, huh? And yet... it is a story that must be told. I feel it in my bones, as Gram would say in Pat's debut novel, LOTTERY.

Have you read it yet, btw?!!!
Get an ARC from her if she has any left. It's stunning.

"How did you decide to become a writer? How did you know you should?"

I knew at 6, and 8 and 12 and ... well, I just KNEW, the way you do when you meet someone you instantly have a connection with; everything freezes for a split instant and then fully aligns, and there's not turning back. You are fast friends forever the way you know you must write stories for a living. :)

Anonymous said...

I quite like it as it is.

See you in a couple days!!