Friday, August 5, 2011

The Anatomy of a Book Cover

My third Mitch Malone Mystery called A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES is out but it could have been delayed a long time because of issues with the front cover. For some reason the cover was a real deal breaker. Let me know what you think of the process Oak Tree Books uses to create the final cover.

First, my publisher asks for a written idea from me of what I think the cover should look like. (Please realize that each publisher has their own way of creating covers and this might not be the same for others.) After that, I will get a website to look at. It will have anywhere from six to twenty photos using my words. For this cover, I wanted photos of a bluff and a river running below it. That is what I picked as the key issue in the book.

After looking at the photos, I sent her my two favorites with the reasons why I liked them. My books are set in Grand River, a fictional Grand Rapids and many of the rivers don’t look like Michigan. After that I was sent two covers and I comment on them. They have the photo I liked best but the designs are different. I again send my comments and wait.
Usually at this point the cover has some small tweaks and is done. For A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES, we weren’t done. I got another email from my publisher asking me to look at another cover. She didn’t like what was done and only realized that maybe the cover shouldn’t be of the bluff where the climax takes place but of the town which really works against my crime beat reporter Mitch Malone.
After a few minutes of surprise, I realized she was right and the book revolved around Mitch’s hometown and needed to be featured on the cover. With that agreed on, we were ready to go to print, only a week later than planned! What do you think of the covers? Which would you have chosen? Would you match up this synopsis with the cover?

When Pulitzer-nominated reporter Mitch Malone's editor presses him for a favor, Malone breaks his vow to never return to his hometown. It seemed simple enough--lead a seminar for Flatville, MI's newspaper, keep a low profile and get back to the city post haste. But memories of his parents' death swarm him, and, to avoid solitude, he stops for a beer. In the crowded bar, Mitch is dismayed to see many of his former classmates--including the still-lovely Homecoming Queen, Trudy. Once the object of his teenage crush, Trudy joins Mitch. He quickly realizes she is upset and inebriated. Always the gentleman, Mitch sees her safely home, and returns to his B&B, still trying to shake memories of his parents' sad demise. The next day, he is stunned to learn Trudy was murdered and he is the prime suspect. The locals treat the murder charge as a slam dunk, and Mitch realizes he must track down the real killer to keep his butt out of jail. As he investigates, facts he thought he knew about his family unravel, and danger ratchets up. Can Mitch discover the truth that will allow his parents to rest in peace, or will he be resting with them?


Christy said...

From a designer's standpoint, I'd go with the layout of the 2nd cover shown (with the deep red band spanning the top. It provides a fantastic contrast for the white & gold type. That being said, I'd like to see it with the background image ( of the town) from the 3rd cover shown.
That image seems to support the story summary well.

chocoaddict said...

I like the picture from the third one, but the title seems washed out where it's on the lightness of the sunset. The red does stand out, and the yellow title would be easier to see against it.

Patty K

WS Gager said...

I agree with both of you! I love the statement the yellow writing makes on the brown background. Problem was you couldn't see much of the town landscape with the brown band.

Tess Grant said...

Still have to go with #3--I like peeking over Mitch's shoulder!