Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Making of a Cover by Keren David

I often get asked about the covers of my books. Readers are amazed to hear that we authors have little or no input into the designs, only seeing the cover once it is nearly complete and with limited chance to make comments. 
It's a scary moment, opening the email attachment which contains a new cover. It's the time when you either feel excited that the publisher really gets your intentions, or disappointed and let down and somehow misunderstood and misrepresented. 
Luckily for me, I have been blessed with great covers. And I love my new one  so much, that I thought it'd be interesting to ask the designer, Jack Smyth about the process of creating it.
The book is about a young actor, Jake, who loses his role on a soap, falls out with his parents and starts sofa-surfing, semi-homeless, spending nights at friends' houses and anywhere he can find somewhere to sleep.  My editor, Sarah Castleton briefed the design department at Little,Brown Books, explaining the story and the character of Jake. She did this brilliantly, as the book wasn't even written yet. 
Then, as Jack explains below, he, photographer Rebecca Naen and Jack's flatmate James (who is actually 25!) created the striking cover. I think they did a fabulous job, and it's given me added energy as I tackle the final edits, to make a book that lives up to its cover. 

Over to Jack:

I’d love to tell you about the process, as I’ve never worked on a cover this way before:
Firstly, Sarah is the BEST at briefing books to the design dept. Thanks to her, I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to do for Cuckoo!
I got a really strong sense of Jake’s personality and felt that the time he spends couch surfing is really an interesting time of turmoil for him.
I quickly sketched out a rough little version of what I thought we should do -  a photographic bird’s eye view of Jake curled up, asleep on a floor, in the middle of his journey. 
After spending quite some time searching for an apt image, I realised such an image did not exist, so I called upon my good friend & photographer Rebecca Naen  for some help.
I know Becca from back home in Ireland and have been itching for the right project to work on with her. I then called my very youthful looking housemate James to play the part of Jake, and
then on one Sunday morning in January, we cleared the living room of our house of furniture, exposing the floorboards. We set up a ladder, which Becca championed, got James comfortable on the cold floor and started shooting.
After a few hours, too much coffee and lots of photos, we felt we had what we needed. We originally had a lot of props in the shot – an old camera, some clothes, books, a notebook, but in the end, 
it was the image of Jake on his own, upside down in that curled up position that was obviously the way to go.

The type came later when I was at my desk going through Becca’s wonderful shots.
I wanted the title to be colourful and strong, and wrote out the shout line  to give some personality.

It was the kind of image that is all about Jake, and with the type, I really tried to just let him be! 

 Cuckoo will be published by Atom Books in August. 


Mystica said...

I did not know that authors are not involved in the covers. Some of the covers especially recently have been so mundane and so bleh that its unbelievable!

Joan Lennon said...

Really interesting to hear from the designer like that - thanks for posting!

Anne Booth said...

This story sounds very good - and the cover is great.

Kathryn Evans said...

It's a stunning cover - and will sit beautifully next to your existing titles!

Sarah McIntyre said...

That's wonderful, Keren, thank you so much for asking questions and giving us insight into the creation of the book cover and a connection with the people who made it! Just the sort of thing we're very grateful for in the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign. Thanks again! :)