Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cover Art

Of all the tasks related to producing a book, working on the book's cover is exhilarating, especially when the publisher desires input from the writer.  In recent months I've been involved in quite a number of these forays. 

And now, in this age of both print and digital, it is not uncommon for a publisher to produce several covers for the same book, the idea being that different colors, schemes and even type face can somehow appeal to various demographics of readers.

In addition, once a book moves into the cover stage, there is a growing sense of finality, as if the thing is actually going to be born.  The cover seems very much like the creation of Frankenstein's monster, and an author always wonders if people will be amazed by this new thing or frightened of it.  The cover always signals the end of the writing, too . . . and if a writer is still working on the book, the publisher is now standing on the top deck, waving the glow sticks, and the writer had best be landing.  If he's not completed the manuscript by now there is a good possibility that he is going to have to ditch in the ocean.

I have always been one of those who finish a manuscript much earlier than expected.  In fact, most publishers have to tell me to hold onto the manuscript for a few months, they just aren't ready to accommodate me.  And so, while I'm sitting on those manuscripts awaiting their adopted covers, I'm working on others, and the crude just keeps on flowing.  My biggest problem is having to go back and work on a manuscript I finished months before, reconnecting with my old friends while I'm making new ones, and trying to recall exactly why I placed a footnote on the bottom of page twenty-two, for example, or trying to answer a question like:  "Would you like to change the type face on page ninety-seven?"

Good Lord, I just don't remember . . . what's on page ninety-seven?

But book covers are different.  I rather enjoy discussions about photography, light saturation, type faces, and size (yes, size matters!).  I feel in these discussions the finality of the book, the sense of urgency required to finally "kill another one" so that I can begin creating the next.  Publishers, I'm sure, have this same elation, but from the marketing end of the stick.  They complete their lineup when a writer gives the final nod.

Then, we go to print (or to the net).  But that, my friends, is another story entirely.   

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