One thing a lot of people don’t realize about book covers is that the author is usually pretty far removed from the process of designing it. There are some exceptions, of course. I imagine that authors who have a background in design or whose books feature their own art or photography might have a heavier hand in creating their covers.
For most authors, though, the process of designing and choosing a cover lies in the hands of the publisher. If you’re guessing that this can sometimes lead to tension, you would be right. I know at least one author who cried when she saw her book cover, and not happy tears.
I’ve been lucky, though. By contract, I had “consultation” rights for my cover. This basically meant that my agent and I got to see multiple iterations of the cover and weigh in about what we liked and didn’t like. But even the first cover I saw for VINTAGE was pretty close in line with what I had imagined it would be. I had always pictured the novel with a shop window and dress mannequin on its cover. And, as a font nerd (most writers are), I swooned for the 1920’s feel of the lettering. The final cover for VINTAGE isn’t all that different from the first draft I saw. The colors are brighter, the photo is cleaner, and the type stands out more. But the general feel is the same, and it hints at the story inside. I hope that when readers see it, they’ll wonder about the vintage wedding dress in the shop window, and be moved to find out more about the women who wore it.
Another interesting thing about covers is that, when the translation rights for a book are sold to a foreign publisher, that publisher gets to design its own cover, based on what it thinks will appeal to that particular market. Last week, I saw the German cover for VINTAGE for the first time. The concept is along the same lines as the American cover, but a little less spare. Perhaps a little more realistic. I love both covers, but for different reasons.
What makes you remember a book cover long after you’ve finished the book?