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?
7 Replies to “Behind the Cover for VINTAGE”
I LOVE seeing foreign covers, Susan! And both your covers are gorgeous. Do you know what the German title translates to? That’s another part of this process that fascinates me.
I think it translates to “Violet’s Wonderful Vintage Shop” but I’d need someone who speaks German to verify!
That’s great that you had consultation rights. I’ve never heard of that before reading your post. I love looking at foreign covers too — the cultural differences that would make “Violet’s Wonderful Vintage Shop” a better title for the German market than “Vintage” is interesting.
Let me be the first to say, as a vintage loving thrift store junkie retro lettering queen, your American cover is AWESOME. Clean and crisp – very inviting. I like the German one less only because it is busy. The first one is like a shot of a bride close up vs. the wedding party. Both have their appeal, but the first elicits a stronger sense of emotion.
My book – Happily Ticked Off – deals with my journey to accept my son’s Tourette Syndrome. It also deals with a rough time in my marriage. The theme is transformation – which takes time. I pepper in a LOT of humor which, right now, is on the table in the editing process as it’s important to take a serious subject seriously… but for Godsake, if we don’t laugh we’ll cry.
My hope is to have a book cover very similar to yours in its retro glory, but with a Tiffany aqua blue background and a tic tac (get it, tic) clock. The tail would be one direction and both eyes (similar to a tic) would go in the other direction. I can already picture the shiny black cat popping against the blue background.
Of course, I’m still agent shopping, but details, scmetails… I’m excited! (did I mention how nice these Deb Ball posts are? A lovely break from my day job! thanks!)
Andrea, I love the vision you have for your cover! I can picture it perfectly.
Susan, I love both colors, but especially the American cover and the use of the color red. Sometimes my mind works in colors. As a child, I’d think of a letter and imagine that the letter had an assigned color to go with it. When I’d imagine the letter or write it out, my mind’s eye would inevitably see the color I associated with the letter.
For me, the same is true for books. The cover and colors used are a hint of the personality of the book waiting to be read.
I love foreign covers, too – it’s so cool to see how the publishers translate the concepts for their audiences. Also, I love both of your covers – you did get great results!
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