Tuesday 12 April 2016

A book by its cover

Cover art for books is a subject that fascinates readers, reviewers and authors alike. Getting the cover right is crucial to a book's retail success - and keeping author and readers happy. I couldn't be more delighted with the cover for 300 Days of Sun designed by Jarrod Taylor. It offers an alluring first impression that is entirely relevant to the story and it's attractive in the full sense of the word: it draws you into the setting of the story, the dramatic rocky coast of the Algarve in Portugal. Brightness, beauty and danger are implicit in the image, as is the hint of a scratched old book.
But how did this cover evolve from an initial idea? To celebrate publication day in the USA and Canada, I've been given permission to show the process behind the scenes as discussion progressed between editor and author, design team and sales and marketing at HarperCollins.
I had just arrived in France last summer when the first images came through in an email from my editor, Jennifer Barth. Which did I prefer of these two?
I thought about it for a few hours, and wrote back to say I liked the red one best. It was the way the letters seemed to be sinking (or rising) behind the layers of the city that appealed. As it turned out, I was in a minority, and most votes went to the second design, by Gregg Kulick. I can understand why. The image is a strong one, with a great sense of light and dark. Perhaps it was the lettering that put me off. 
The next stage was another email containing another four images, all by Jarrod Taylor. Which did I like best? Which would you choose?
I liked them all except the third one, because the yellow rock seemed to hint strangely at an Egyptian pyramid. Our first guests of the summer had arrived, and we had a group reaction to report back. Most popular were the second and the fourth (though the lettering seemed wrong on that one).
The team in New York played around with the second for a while, using a deeper blue and capital letters (gorgeous, rather unusual, colours for cover art - and I preferred the original):
Then the fourth was re-worked and presented to a marketing and sales meeting. Everyone agreed, including me, over in France, that we had found our ideal cover:
So there we have it. Do you agree, or would you have made a different choice? As far as I'm concerned, as soon as I saw this last version, I felt it was right, almost like a sigh of relief.
As the book finally goes on sale, huge thanks to everyone at Harper, especially Jarrod Taylor and Gregg Kulick, Jennifer Barth, Amy Baker, Katherine Beitner, Jonathan Burnham, Cal Morgan, Kathryn Ratcliffe-Lee, Mary Sasso, Sherry Wasserman and Erin Wicks. Also to Stephanie Cabot, as ever. 
"a deeply satisfying novel, a rich story with a strong feeling for time and place and the expert pacing of the best thrillers. Readers will appreciate Lawrenson’s ability to combine stunning atmosphere with a fascinating historical backstory."
                                                     — starred Booklist review


Marcheline said...

Truly, they all look lovely - and really, it's the delicious stuff between the covers that makes the book. Can't wait!!

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

How fun to see the evolution of the cover. I ordered my copy yesterday. Very much looking forward to reading it and wish you the best of luck.

Deborah Lawrenson said...

Thanks, Marcheline and Karen, for all the encouragement and support. I really appreciate it.

Unknown said...

I thot you wrote '300 days of sin' and I was prepared to givest unto thou, my naughty-naughty liege, a reprimand: we only have a lil bitto time left on this earth... then, vestness of eternity. God bless you

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