I had a dream for KILMOON’s cover. I wanted it to look like a “big book.” By this I mean that I wanted my name to be as prominent as the title. In the realm of mystery/suspense/thriller, the bigger the name on the cover, the bigger the author. It’s a branding thing. If your name is above the title — whoa, definite big time!
I thought a lot about branding. I thought about what it means to have a series. I wanted my initial cover to include elements that could be used in future covers. I wanted to have a look that lent itself to variations on a theme.
I pictured moody. I pictured, of course, Ireland. I pictured a church. Kilmoon of the title is Kilmoon Church, a place where bad things have happened. She’s almost a character in herself. Setting as character, as we novelists say.
Many publishers, small and large, have art departments and many also hire independent artists such as Kimberly Glyder. She has produced covers for publishers such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Crown Publishers and many smaller presses. I’m blessed that she designed my cover!
Take a look at the first set of comps she created. Fascinating, right? I was lucky enough to see some notes she’d sent along with the comps.
Comp #1: The distressed band could be a key element that repeats on other series designs. It could change slightly and move around, but would always hold the title. The stark images create a bold contrast and set a darker tone.
My take: I loved the churchyard — so Kilmoon! But the girl looking off into the distance didn’t feel right for the book. She looked too young and summery. Love the Celtic medallion though.
Comp #2: No person on this, but I think the tone is set nicely here. The moon replaces the “o” in the title. The tag line is clearly set under the title, but could move around on other series designs. Author name is quite prominent. More white on here…I could open the white up more too if needed.
My take: OK, yeah. I’m liking this one a lot. No surprise, right? I loved the moon in the “o” as a design element. My name’s bigger! Woohoo! Wasn’t sure about the font for Kilmoon, but I liked the subtitle and especially the Celtic chevron thingies on either end of it.
My take: Like that my name was on top — branding! I also liked the stony-looking font for Kilmoon. It’s reminiscent of the limestone that makes up Kilmoon’s crumbling walls. The subtitle within a medallion is cool. However, this was my least favorite cover. Kimberly was right-on that black and white worked better.
My take: I’m looking at this one, and I’m looking at comp #2, and I’m torn. I love so many of the elements equally. This medallion with the subtitle is pretty cool too. What I loved? The BLOOD. Yeah, baby! Definitely lends to the mood. Plus the color red complements green — adds a little pizzazz. My name works better here because it stands out more.
My take: The red didn’t work for me.
So now, let’s take a look at my two favorites and the final version.
The green and white are brighter and the font for Kilmoon is bigger and more Celtic style. It’s still moody but I think the green and white “pop” more. This is especially important when looking at thumbnail sized covers like you see on Amazon.
It’s a shame to lose the moon because I thought that was brilliant, but I like the overall cleaner appearance. The blood’s there — yay!
What else? My name is more prominent! Woohoo! Plus, I love the medallions framing the bottom of the cover — the Irish detail is just perfect. Also, notice how the image is shifted left so you see more of the church’s wall. I didn’t notice this for the longest time. I love it that Kimberly thought of it, because Kilmoon Church’s walled façade is important to the story. Hehe, I can’t wait for you to read it to find out why!
<clapping hands> I love my cover! I’m already trying to picture the cover for the second novel in the series, tentatively called Grey Man. This cover so so so lends itself to a series look, don’t you think?
What pops out the most to you when you look at these covers? What feeling do you get about the type of mystery I’ve written when you look at the final cover?